It was a grand night for singing – a triple celebration on Monday evening May 2, 2011 at Carnegie Hall. The New York Pops, under the leadership of the talented and charming Steve Reineke, was commemorating its 28th year with an all star salute to the British import Bob Hope – Mr. Entertainment – star of vaudeville, stage, film, television and USO tours where he brought his special brand of humor and glamorous gals to support our troops worldwide over the years and honoring Interpublic Group and its Chairman and CEO Michael Roth – for its decades of support for The New York Pops and their many educational programs.
The Pops is all about kids. Bringing music to those who normally would not be able to attend a concert or share the stage with professional musicians or be able to perform in front of a black tie audience.
Especially noteworthy – the Ronald McDonald House Chorus – comprised of pediatric cancer patients who did a mean “Ballin’ the Jack” with Bad Habit and Maurice Hines. Also The Camp Broadway Kids that opened the concert with a rousing “When Hope Was There” adorned with golf clubs and doing some nice precision choreography. Not to mention the 837 Kids in the Balcony being introduced to the American Songbook and giving them a dose of Hope – Bob and the inspirational kind.
With Al Hirschfeld’s caricature overseeing all we were treated to some of the songs that Mr. Hope introduced over his long career. “Two Sleepy People” sung by two wonderful Broadway stars – Kelli O’ Hara and Aaron Lazar – a dream couple, Cole Porter’s “You Do Something To Me” by Christine Ebersole who had that effect on the entire audience, Michelle Lee’s rendition of “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” (and in her case it seemed to be glitter) and two crooners in the Frank Sinatra vein. I am so pleased that there are some young men who can really sing “in the old style” and can do a great job with songs like “I Can’t Get Started” (Tony Desare) and “Moonlight Becomes You” (Ryan Silverman).
Adding some comic relief were Gregg Edelman and Tom Wopat arriving through the house attached to a bedraggled looking camel. Their rendition of (We’re off on the) Road to Morocco was anything but.
Two Ex-Mama Roses were in attendance. Two great ladies of the theatre. Tyne Daly singing “The Lady’s in Love With You” meaning each and every member of the audience and the ever elegant and charming Angela Lansbury who entertained via an old video clip of a TV special when Hope was a mere 88.
Another clip from “The Seven Little Foys” segued into an entertaining and lively tap sequence by Cartier Williams.
Two guest conductors – Eight year old Kathryn Hall who won the privilege with a winning bid led them with her Toscanini sized baton in “Strike Up the Band” and the CEO from Brooklyn who made good and shares his success with The Pops – Mr. Michael Roth – leading the orchestra in a great arrangement of “On Broadway” featuring bongos, guitar riffs, trumpets and percussion by Mr. Reineke. You too can conduct The Pops. Just go to www.charitybuzz.com/newyorkpops
Michael Feinstein, always a welcomed surprise, sang Hope’s signature song “Thanks for The Memory” and we all thank Bob Hope for the many wonderful memories he has afforded us.
In an emotional turn, the West Point Glee Club sang a salute to the Armed Forces and Jamie Barton sang a stirring, glorious and inspirational “God Bless America” that was all too appropriate considering the recent news out of Pakistan.
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