Leonard Bernstein’s works for the theatre were the focus of this energetic “Bernstein on Broadway” concert.
The exception was the love theme from his score for the movie On the Waterfront.
It was exceptional too in being one of the few pieces not belted out fortissimo. Perhaps the combination of a large orchestra and a battery of microphones was responsible rather than Carl Davis’s conducting but, whatever the cause, a great deal of the music was like his Liberace-style coat – too loud.
Of course some of the music demands Davis’s in-your-face approach. The (intentionally) irritatingly catchy One Note Rag from Wonderful Town and West Side Story’s America were the perfect upbeat items to close both halves of the concert. The overture to Candide was rushed and relentless rather than sparkling and witty and a little easing back on the tempo in New York New York would have allowed the singers to articulate Comden and Green’s smart lyrics more clearly.
The three vocalists tackled a range of material and only Candide, an opera not a musical, troubled them. Graham Bickley crooned rather than sang It Must Be So. I’m So Lucky to Be Me from On the Town suited him better, while Sarah Eyden’s light soprano sketched the coloratura outline, without giving the substance, of Glitter and Be Gay. But her ingénue delivery was ideal for A Little Bit in Love.
Mary Carewe’s performance of What a Movie, from Trouble in Tahiti was a highlight, acting with the voice and revealing the character’s romantic imaginings.