Perfection and fun.
These are the two words that immediately came to my mind after last night’s Our First Five Years concert by London’s Voices of Broadway Show Choir at a packed Wolf Performing Arts Centre.
Narrated by Jim Swan, the concert took the audience on a guided tour of the 35 member choir’s first years of life. And, oh, what a five years it has been.
Under the leadership of its animated Artistic/Musical Director, Julie Pietrangelo, VOB concerts have become must-see events on people’s Calendars.
Five years ago, I wrote the following in a Review of VOB’s very first show, Broadway Blitz in January 2014:
“Indeed, if its inaugural concert is any indication, Londoners will be hearing and seeing a lot more of The Voices of Broadway Show Choir and its Artistic Director in the months to come.”
Well, Londoners have indeed heard a lot more of VOB and its Artistic Director. According to the program for Our First 5 Years, the choir has logged 2,628,000 minutes of music over the past five years. That’s a lot of music!
Our First 5 Years began with a most fitting number — A Musical, a number which literally outlined why musicals are so popular with audiences.
This was followed by Broadway Blockbusters, a medley of tunes like One, and Do You Hear The People Sing. Next came Newsies, featuring the founding members of VOB who are still with the group.
A flag bearer accompanied the choir on Anthem from the musical Chess. Tansy Dinn was the soloist.
Two whimsical tunes from Mary Poppins followed. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious gave audience members a chance to join in as the lyrics were projected on a back-screen.
The choir absolutely killed Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody from the musical We Will Rock You. Samantha Brocksom was a fantastic soloist and choir member Mel Atkins presented a most ambitious dance solo during the number.
Act 1 closed out with numbers from the musicals American Idiot, The Book of Mormon and Grease. Hello from The Book of Mormon included an in joke which re-appeared throughout the rest of the night.
Act 2 opened with a medley of tunes from crowd favourite Hair, complete with period props and wigs. Songwriter/songstress Carole King got the spotlight with a medley of hits from Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.
The Men of the Voices of Broadway were featured in the always popular Always Look On The Bright Side from Spamalot.
Soloist Janice Oldham elicited ample audience participation for You Can’t Stop The Beat from Hairspray. A medley of Motown hits followed in Motown: The Musical.
A number of VOB soloists were featured in a stirring medley of tunes from the Broadway smash hit, Hamilton.
Welcome to The Rock from Come From Away did Canada proud.
Coffee (In a Cardboard Cup) from 70, Girls, 70 closed out the program.
In keeping with VOB’s devotion to audience participation, choir members walked off the Wolf Performance Hall stage and thanked audience members for coming and engaging them in conversation.
In short, it was a great evening of Broadway choral music — exactly what people have come to expect of VOB.
Here’s to the next 5 years.
Reviewed by Rick Young, June 9, 2018