Review by Danny Gaisin
Hamilton lost a major supporter of everything artistic with the passing of Pauline Zamprogna. It was only fitting that the Brott Festival presented a tribute concert dedicated to her memory and to the music that she so enjoyed. Her son, acting as an M.C. recalled the shows in which she either performed or relished. In other words those she really liked. This writer also happens to be a fan of the Broadway genre.
Growing up in Montreal, my B.F.F.’s family owned His (Her) Majesty’s Theatre and at that time the city was a major ‘try-out’ spot for the shows heading for the 42nd street venues. We & our dates saw just about every major hit from the late forties until my emigration to T.O.
Alas, Pauline’s taste & mine differed. Nevertheless, the evening was an entertaining treat … except for the raucous screaming, shrieking and finger-whistles after every offering. There was also a most annoying thrump of bass tones that evoked distant thunder, and some microphone volume problems.
Enough of the kvetching: -now for the good (read ‘great’) stuff. From the opening ‘vilkommen’ from Cabaret, followed by selections from ‘La Mancha’ *, the audience was entertained by mostly familiar works superbly performed. In addition to the skilled musicians of the N.A.O., twenty-eight vocalists presented arias from ‘Les Miz’; Sondheim’s ‘Into the Woods’, and Bernstein’s ‘West Side Story’. The choices seemed based on the love idiom rather than the more challenging lyric selections, thus making the staging more facile. No tongue-twisting ‘Nothing like a Like a Dame’; no ‘The Girl I’m near’ or other “Finian’s Rainbow” pieces. The program contained zilch from Brigadoon; Flower Drum Song; Oklahoma; or even ‘Sweet Charity’. But we did hear Webber’s repetitious ‘Evita’ and selections from Hamlisch’s ‘A Chorus Line’.
The N.A.O. conceptually is a major asset of the Canadian musical-culture world. Abetting the next generation of practitioners was something dear to Pauline’s psyche and a mainstay of her family. To Boris and his family; it is intrinsic. For this scribe & my muse, it is deep-seated and fundamental. Alas, we’re financially unable to make the contributions we’d love to provide; hence, this blog-ish website, whose only raison d’etre is to professionally promote, publicize and constructively critique the cultural aspects of our own & neighboring communities. From the responses, readership, and requests for coverage we receive not only across Ontario, but the Provinces and States on our borders…we are filling a need. BUT it’s the $$$$ that ultimately mean the difference between treble and bass clefs. If you’re fiscally able to write a cheque to help support the NAO (or comparable); for your own and your children’s sake; please DO!
p.s. * The Wasserman/Leigh/Darion musical is a feature of this year’s STRATFORD lineup!