Sitting in Avery Fisher Hall, with the N.Y. Philharmonic upon the stage, celebrating Anywhere I Wander: The Frank Loesser Songbook, I felt like a ringing bell, popping spring and swinging gate all at once. From the very first note of the “Frank Overture” the packed house knew they were in for an amazing night. The evening’s program was introduced by Robert Morse, his ovation demonstrating how much audiences believe in him.
The first number; Bushel and a Peck was performed by a male trio (John Bolton, Bernard Dotson, Michael Seelbach) in three part harmony. I was left wondering why it is not always performed in that manner! The trio were choreographed (Andrew Palermo) down to the half-note, their standing microphones used as dance partners. The numbers following were predominately from the stage (The Most Happy Fella, Where’s Charley, etc.) but there were film and pop songs performed as well. Marc Kudisch’s rendition of Hans Christian Anderson was moving and amusing.
Of particular personal joy was the performing of several numbers from Guys & Dolls. I had never previously had the privilege of seeing a perfect professional rendition of these songs. Victoria Clark was positively luminescent in her rendition of If I Were A Bell. It was somewhat poetic to have Mary Testa performing Adelaide’s Lament, as she and I had both endured the (2009) Guys & Dolls revival. Ms. Testa, with all her sneezing and wheezing and her sinus that’s really a pip, made the song all her own and it was fabulous! If there was any disappointment to the evening it was the quality of Robert Morse’s microphone. What felt like a once in a lifetime experience; seeing Mr. Morse perform I Believe In You, was marred by static and feedback. I was left wondering how the N.Y. Philharmonic does not have a stage manager adept at killing the body mic and running on stage with a hand-held.
Fortunately that is not what lingers. What I will always recall is the incredible orchestra, joyfully conducted by Ted Sperling and over 2,700 people singing along to Once In Love With Amy.