November 18, 2009

Together They Were Kristin Chenoweth

The Playbill signed by Megan Hilty, Julia Murney and conductor Steven Reineke

Sunday afternoon I got to see Wicked Divas with the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra. It starred Megan Hilty and Julia Murney. They were a last minute replacement for Kristin Chenoweth who was ill and couldn't perform the concert. With me was my friend Jon, Liza and Liza's daughter, Sophia who's 7 years old and a budding theatre geek. At that young age, she's seen Cats (local production), The Lion King, Mamma Mia and Wicked. It was amazing to see how she was so behaved and drawn-in to the performance that afternoon. Jon and I drove down from Chicago and stayed with Liza and her family in Indianapolis.

First of all, the Music Hall where the concert was housed is an elegant and beautiful building built in 1877. Very historic! I felt like I was pulled back in time at the turn of the century and any minute now someone in a "Somewhere In Time" attire would just come out from one of the doors.

It was nice to get to hear the Overture of Gypsy again with a full Orchestra which sounded great! Other highlights from the Orchestra was O Mio Babbino Caro which always remind me of the movie A Room With The View with Helena Bonham Carter. I also enjoyed Over The Rainbow. It was beautifully played with a solo violin playing the melody. However, it was the vocalist that made we want to see the concert.

It must have been daunting for Megan and Julia to perform this concert and replace Kristin Chenoweth at the last minute. But I thought they had immediate grasp of the audience when they sang their first song, All That Jazz (Chicago). It was fun and vivacious. The four older ladies seating behind us who had bought tickets for Kristin Chenoweth had forgotten all about her. I guess I could tell with the enthusiasm with which they were clapping after that number.

I haven't seen Megan Hilty in a show before. Not in Wicked nor in 9 To 5 so I was really interested in this concert. I don't usually relish sopranos (except maybe for Christine Ebersole) but I did think Megan is a strong singer with a beautiful voice. My favorites in terms of her solos were Part of Your World (Little Mermaid) and I Could Have Danced All Night (My Fair Lady). She did seem a little nervous when she had to talk between songs.

Julia was in great voice that afternoon. I've always loved her version of Back To Before (Ragtime) and enjoyed it even more this time because it was live! Her voice is so rich it fits this song perfectly. Ring Them Bells was a delight. It's amazing to me how she can change and use different voices/accents all in one song.....and not get tongue tied or confused. She even had a different physicality and mannerism every time she changed persona during the song. It's amazing to see. I must admit that initially I wasn't thrilled to hear her sing songs from Wicked again but I confess that she REALLY sounded great singing them. Julia and Megan ended the concert with the duet I Will Never Leave You (Sideshow)which was a perfectly matched belting face off. So thrilling!

On a side note, Julia is so at ease on stage, she's a natural. She's very funny and playful onstage plus her stage presence is so magnetic that you as an audience member will be drawn to her. I guess it was really evident at this concert specially during the banter between songs because she's there side by side with Megan.

After the show one of the ushers I had asked led us to the "green room". To my surprise there was a long line of people waiting to meet Megan and Julia. It was amusing because it felt like a reception greeting line at a wedding. My friends and little Sophia got to meet Julia and Megan who were both so nice and gracious. I think Sophia (who's usually a chatterbox) got star struck upon meeting them. She wasn't saying much. It was really cute.

Last night I spoke with Liza and she said that Sophia has been surfing with her Dad looking at the pictures on the site. She came upon a video of Julia singing I Will Never Leave You at the Kennedy Center. After watching, she said "Oh Daddy, they sound even better when you see them live". That statement alone was worth the trip!

Here are the photos I took that afternoon at the green room and outside the theatre:

Julia Murney

Megan Hilty

The marquee of the Cincinnati Music Hall

Interior lobby

The casting board in the lobby announcing the performer change


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