A Grand Night for Singing ensemble, in evening dress. Photo Nanc Price Photography.
Continuing my festive week of attending performances, tonight I went to opening night of Foote in the Door’s production of the Rogers and Hammerstein musical celebration A Grand Night For Singing. Ten familiar musical-theatre performers, along with an orchestra of seven, presented about 35 songs from the mid-20th-century writing/composing team. The simple staging and costumes allowed the focus to remain on the singing, and the singing was great. From solos like “Love, Look Away”, sung by Brendan Smith, or “It’s Me” sung by Christina O’Dell, to playful group numbers like “Honey Bun” and beautiful group harmonies in “Some Enchanted Evening” and “Everything’s Up to Date in Kansas City”, all the singers used the music to tell stories and evoke emotions.
The songs in Grand Night For Singing, which was first performed on Broadway in 1993, come from about eleven different stage or screen musicals. Oddly, the only one I’ve seen live is Carousel – in the Foote in the Door production and as done by Opera Nuova. There is one song from The Sound of Music (as well as a few familiar riffs in the overture), which I’ve seen on television. Despite this, I recognized a lot of the songs! And even the ones I didn’t recognize were fun to listen to and watch.
The performance felt shorter than the 2-hour estimate in the program, with very smooth shifts between songs and performers (director/choreographer Katie Hayes). The Foote in the Door ensemble is made up of Jason Duiker, Kathryn Kroeker, Melanie Lafleur, Christina O’Dell, Aaron Schaan, Brendan Smith, David Son, and Kelsey Volker, along with company principals Russ Farmer and Ruth Wong-Miller.
A Grand Night for Singing has a short run, May 11-14 with 7:30 evening shows and Saturday/Sunday matinees at 2 pm, at La Cité Francophone.