Renée Elise Goldsberry and Phillipa Soo

June 14, 2018

in Concerts


Keith Lockhart, conductor

Boston Pops Orchestra
Symphony Hall, Boston
June 14, 2018 8pm

Renée Elise Goldsberry and Phillipa Soo

Renée Elise Goldsberry and Phillipa Soo
Photo: Annie Tritt

Two captivating popular vocalists who, among other things, were the Schuyler sisters in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s celebrated Hamilton on Broadway.

Renée Elise Goldsberry, who won the Tony for her role as Angelica Schuyler in Hamilton on Broadway, led the roster in the second half of the program for this delightful hybrid concert which featured, in its first half, a series of orchestral tributes to Leonard Bernstein. Phillipa Soo, who was also celebrated for her role as Elizabeth Schuyler and ultimately Alexander Hamilton’s wife in the Broadway production of Hamilton, joined Goldsberry for a series of numbers.

Unless they are very good actresses – even better than they seem – both Goldsberry and Soo really appear to have a wonderful and warm relationship. Not only do they sing delightfully together but they avow not only a sisterhood in the Hamilton roles but in their general sense of artistic collaboration. This was supremely evident in their demeanor onstage.

Their voices are interestingly different. Goldsberry has a bigger, brassier voice, and Soo’s is clearer, purer, more distilled. Both are indeed lovely but one sees, from this pairing outside of the Hamilton context, how ingenious the casting of these opposite vocal types was.

Goldsberry opened with On a Clear Day (You Can See Forever) from the show (1965) of the same name, with music by Burton Lane and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner. Goldsberry’s voice, which one associates immediately with the rapid patter she executes flawlessly in Hamilton, all of a sudden sounded more diva-esque, with Barbra Streisand-like breadth but with a few more funkily appealing twists and bends. She sang a number from The Lion King (1997), which was her first Broadway musical, and eventually got around to the show-stopper, the heartbreaking toast number Satisfied from Hamilton. The verbal specificity of her delivery in this signature work, along with her charmingly slight modifications for the concert stage, drew a wildly enthusiastic response from the audience.

Soo also sang the pained and painful Burn, her hit solo from Hamilton, but included as well from that show the song sung by Aaron Burr to his daughter, Dear Theodosia. Since Goldsberry and Soo were somewhat last-minute replacements at this concert for Leslie Odom, who played Burr in Hamilton on Broadway, this inclusion was apt, and also beautifully rendered in Soo’s limpid soprano. Soo also delivered a wonderfully reverberant rendition of Children Will Listen from Sondheim’s Into The Woods (1987).

Deftly articulate and capable, Steven Walker joined the Pops to accompany Goldsberry and Soo on both electric and acoustic guitars and appeared to have a great time doing so.

Leonard Bernstein

Leonard Bernstein

The concert opened with the lovely tribute To Lenny! To Lenny! by John Williams, replete with a sequential montage of stills of Bernstein projected above the orchestra. The charged and articulate overture to Candide by Bernstein followed, led briskly and efficiently by Keith Lockhart and executed with striking precision by the orchestra.

Calling forth Love Theme and Finale from Bernstein’s only film score, to On The Waterfront (1954), Lockhart extracted exquisite solos from horn and flute while enabling the rambling piano to reverberate against the hauntingly searching strings. The final section was embellished by the vibes and followed by muted brass evoking the elongated sense of tragedy implicit in the piece, ending with a poignant dissonance.

A very fun and excellently complied video montage by Susan Dangel and Dick Bartlett of an array of celebrated film dance numbers accompanied Mambo from West Side Story, followed by an instrumental adaptation of Simple Song from Bernstein’s Mass and a compilation of numbers from On The Town and West Side Story. Lockhart and the Pops are well known for their capacity to play in perfect synchrony with fireworks displays on July 4th, but the accuracy of their coordination with the video compilations, particularly the Mambo one, along with their pointedly crisp delivery, was striking.

– BADMan

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