Star power was the name of the game Friday night at the Festival of Orchestras' final concert of its 27th season.
In the touring-orchestra world, the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra — known colloquially as "America's Orchestra" — is a top draw.
Its conductor, charismatic
The program featured a tribute to
All these elements gelled into a fast-paced evening of fun for the upwards of 2,500 patrons at the Northland Church in Longwood. In fact, turnout was so high there was a shortage of programs.
But no matter; nearly all of the melodies were instantly recognizable.
Things got off to a bright and brassy start with the overture to "Babes in Arms," and Lockhart led the musicians on a tour of American music of the early 20th century — An
The percussionists might have pulled back just a hair on the march version of W.C. Handy's "St. Louis Blues" to let the melody shine through, but the crowd was distracted, watching the bass players spinning their instruments.
There was pizazz in the brass section, too, with a showy trumpet solo on "Someone to Watch Over Me," part of a Gershwin medley.
But the showmanship kicked into high gear in the second half of the program, the Porter tribute. After a clever arrangement of "Another Opening, Another Show" in which the melody would playfully hide behind a flurry of strings, O'Hara and Danieley took the stage. And they know a thing or two about commanding a stage.
O'Hara is a three-time Tony nominee, who most recently starred as Nellie in the
Both are blessed with voices that have a clear purity in the upper register and an inviting warmth in the lower — not to mention the charisma that comes with talent and good looks.
The two bantered through "Friendship" and "It's De-lovely," two of several songs on the program featured in the Broadway musical "Anything Goes." O'Hara flirted with Lockhart in the coquettish "Always True to You in My Fashion." Danieley sputtered in frustration on the comic "Where Is the Life That Late I Led."
And if there was a slight stumble on a word or a bobble in the phrases of "Anything Goes," it wasn't enough to detract from the sparkle of their singing.
O'Hara gave a particularly sultry reading of "Let's Do It" and a gloriously operatic-sounding "So In Love."
Danieley soared seemingly effortlessly to the climactic high notes in songs such as "Easy to Love" and "In the Still of the Night."
The two devilishly tweaked Porter's lyrics in a nod to current politics, changing "the G.O.P. or 'gop'" to "the Tea Party — oh, stop!" in one couplet from "You're the Top."
Knowing Porter's wit, he surely would have approved.