NSO Pops Electrifies with An Evening With Sutton Foster at The Kennedy Center
When two-time Tony Award winner Sutton Foster takes the stage, anything goes, and she served up a delightful mix of charm, power, and style in her debut with the NSO Pops at The Kennedy Center’s Concert Hall last night, November 28, 2014. Sutton Foster delivered an evening of pure musical theatre nirvana.
The NSO Pops. under the baton of conductor Steven Reineke, performed with energy and emotion. Seldom has a conductor entered into the rhythm and musicality of a piece with the entertaining groove Reineke brings to his work. From the toe-tapping “Overture to Anything Goes” to the sultry “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” to the incredibly light-hearted and cheeky “The History of the TV Overture” – the NSO delivered a musical program guaranteed to delight and intrigue. Jay Ungar’s “Ashokan Farewell” – featuring haunting, wistful solos by NSO violinists Alexandra Osborne and Glenn Donnellan – was lush and moving. A particular favorite was Reineke’s arrangement of “The Lady Is a Tramp” – a fun reworking of a classic that shone the spotlight on every section of this talented orchestra.
Sutton Foster, who will be starring in TVLand’s new series Younger this January, proves that she is a true triple threat who simply gets better and better with time. Her debut with the NSO is the perfect marriage of a playful, versatile, and powerful vocalist with an equally versatile, dynamic, and lively orchestra. Two of my favorite pairings were “Anything Goes” and “Down with Love” – both showcase pieces for Foster’s powerful belt with some wonderfully playful arrangements for the NSO.
The purity of Foster’s tone is evident in the moving simplicity of Michael Rafter’s arrangement of John Denver’s “Sunshine On My Shoulder.” Foster’s voice warms and soars in the gorgeous layered harmonies in the beautiful “Flight” – sung with the lyrically beautiful Megan McGinnis. McGinnis, who co-starred with Foster in Little Women – also delivered a poignant “Neverland.”
It is difficult for anyone to steal a scene – let alone the stage – from the multi-talented Sutton Foster. However, two-time Tony Award nominee and recent Violet co-star Joshua Henry does exactly that in his all-too-brief appearances on the program. His rendition of Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” is full of smoldering conviction. Henry’s star turn “Let It Sing” sounds even better than it did on Broadway – it was one of the night’s most electrifying moments.
Foster and Henry unite for an infectious “Fit as Fiddle (and Ready for Love)” that demonstrates their great chemistry, comic flair, and formidable tap skills. Foster’s banter throughout the program was as personable and engaging as the star herself.
At the end of the concert, Foster truly let herself go with an electrifying and emotional rendition of Stephen Sondehim’s “Anyone Can Whistle”/“Being Alive.” In her encore with the NSO – a reprise of her star turn “Gimme Gimme” from Thoroughly Modern Millie – Sutton Foster delivered a blockbuster performance sure to linger with her audience.
If anyone can match Sutton Foster for the purity and clarity of her gorgeous voice, the power of her Broadway belt, or her warm and engaging personality, it is Steven Reineke and the National Symphony Orchestra. This is a match made in musical heaven.
Running Time: Two hours, including a 15-minute intermission.
NSO Pops: An Evening with Sutton Foster has one more performance -tomorrow, November 30, 2014 at 8 PM at The Kennedy Center’s Concert Hall – 2700 F Street, NW, in Washington, DC. For tickets, call (202) 467-4600, or purchase them online.
A Chat With Sutton Foster on Her George Mason University Concert on September 29th by Joel Markowitz.
Broadway Veteran Sutton Foster Helps Educate Aspiring Young Artists by Lauren Selman.