Tucson Symphony Orchestra is going to the Great White Way this weekend, with a side trip to the Sunset Strip.
The orchestra opens its 2019-20 SuperPops series with “Broadway to the Sunset Strip,” a concert that surveys the biggest hits from Hollywood and Broadway, including “The Sound of Music,” “Lion King,” “Wicked,” “Phantom of the Opera,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “Jaws,” “Star Wars” and more.
The concert features a trio of Broadway stars, a guest conductor with a long list of Broadway and Hollywood credits and a program that revisits some of the biggest musicals and Hollywood films of the last 25 years sung by the performers who held several of the roles on Broadway.
“It’s just a super fun frolic celebration,” said one of those singers, Susan Egan, who originated the role of Belle in “Beauty and the Beast” on Broadway. “You have heard nothing until you hear these songs with 60 to 70 (musicians). Being on Broadway, we’re lucky if we have 15. Here, the lush orchestrations of this award-winning music, you can’t beat that.”
We caught up last week with Egan, who also earned critical acclaim for her role as Sally Bowles in “Cabaret,” and in a phone interview, she talked about the cast of this weekend’s TSO concert, the enduring music and her Tucson encore in December as part of UA Presents’ “Broadway Princess Party” featuring a trio of Disney princesses.
About the cast: “We go way back, although we are much too young to go way, way back. I’ve been singing with Lisa (Vroman) and Doug (Labrecque) for about 15 years. They are two of my favorite people. They are immensely talented, totally hilarious and just absolutely beautiful souls. They just make me laugh. We always close with ‘Phantom of the Opera’ “ — both Labrecque and Vroman are veterans of that show — “and to hear them sing it, it is one of my favorite moments.”
Reunited with guest Conductor Christopher Confessore: ”This doesn’t always happen because people’s schedules are crazy and you never really know until things get finalized. But this is an amazing combination. We have all worked with Chris quite a bit. He is one of the best conductors of Broadway music. Not to throw anybody else under the bus, but often when you work with a symphony, you work with a classical conductor who is amazing but might not understand the style of Broadway in the same way that a Broadway conductor can. He just has a Broadway heart and understands. Singing with him, he just breathes with us. … It’s always just a lot of fun.”
In the beginning: “We put together this program that we thought would be a lot of fun called ‘The Envelope Please.’ It’s all award-winning music. Because the genres have really blended into each other. Broadway is not its own thing and film is not its own thing. Now we’ve got basically a musical with Lady Gaga in ‘A Star is Born.’ It’s so Broadway, but it’s film but it’s also pop. What we wanted to do was find some sort of framework to enjoy all of this music and highlight the music that’s been so celebrated. So this is Grammy, Tony, Academy award-winning music.”
The program: Among the most interesting moments of the concert will be when the trio sings a medley of songs that includes “Evergreen” from the Barbra Streisand version of “A Star is Born” and “Shallow” from last year’s remake with Lady Gaga. Lots of Disney music including songs from “The Lion King,” “Aladdin” and “Pocahontas.” Songs from Broadway musicals including “Thoroughly Modern Millie” and “Cabaret,” and a tribute to composing great Marvin Hamlisch, who wrote music for Broadway and Hollywood and was one of only 15 people in history to win an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony.
“It’s the kind of show where anybody who has a music education is going to appreciate the greatness of this music,” Egan said. “But anyone who maybe has not even been to a symphony concert before, it’s the perfect entrance because it’s familiar, it’s feel-good music. I just think it’s a celebration of a very American art form of Hollywood and Broadway music.”