Concert Review: BROADWAY IN THE PARK (Signature Theatre and Wolf Trap in Virginia)

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by Lisa Troshinsky on June 19, 2023

in Concerts / Events,Theater-D.C.


The third annual Broadway in the Park, produced by Signature Theatre and Wolf Trap, showcased some of the best singing talent of the D.C. area and headlined two Broadway divas – Megan Hilty and Lea Solonga.

The ever-popular event was packed to the gills – both in-house seating and on the lawn.

The evening started off on a strong note (no pun intended) with Signature Theatre’s Resident Musical Director Jon Kalbfleisch conducting the substantial Wolf Trap orchestra in the overture to My Fair Lady, consisting of “On the Street Where You Live”(one of my favorites) and “I Could Have Danced All Night.”

Clearly Solonga was the evening’s highlight, as the audience cheered louder and stronger for her than for any other performer at the start of the show. She also sang last. As they say, they save the best for last.

Solonga is famous for originating the lead role of Kim in the musical Miss Saigon and for being the first Asian actress to play the roles of Eponine and Fantine in the musical Les Misérables on Broadway. She also is the singing voices of both Jasmine and Mulan for Disney. Here, she did not disappoint.

She gave us a taste of what has made her so famous with “I’d Give My Life to You” from Miss Saigon, and a sensitive and emotional “Send in the Clowns” from Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music – with clarinet solos by Lee Lachman and oboe solos by Ben Bokor.

She joked that her brother, Gerald Salonga, who did almost all of her arrangements and orchestrations, encouraged her to sing both her “dead girl” songs from Les Miz – “On My Own” and “I Dreamed a Dream.” Both performances raised goosebumps.

For those (including myself) who missed Smash, on TV, the 2012 Steven Spielberg-produced NBC musical drama that is headed to Broadway, Megan Hilty performed a selection from the hit about a seasoned triple-threat named Ivy Lynn, who struggles to be a headliner. The show chronicles the conception and creation of a new Marilyn Monroe Broadway musical called Bombshell.

Hilty, in a stunning full-length silvery dress, performed two songs by Marc Shaiman and Scott Whitman – “They Just Keep Moving the Line” (about how the main character struggled to move past chorus roles) and “Second Hand White Baby Grand,” which is based on a true story about Marilyn Monroe’s difficult relationship with her mother. Hilty explained that Monroe and her mother making music from that piano afforded them both a reprieve from their rocky rapport.

The metaphor for their relationship is gripping. The song says, “And with each note we both would smile / forgetting who we are / And all the pain would simply fly away / Something secondhand and broken still can make a pretty sound / Even if it doesn’t have a place to live.”

Of all the other talent that graced the stage, one definitely stood out, at least to this former hoofer. Phillip Attmore’s smooth, sultry-turned-jazzy rendition of Cole Porter’s “Too Darn Hot!” from Kiss Me, Kate was just that – mesmerizingly fiery, even from my box seat high above the orchestra. The horn solo, Attmore’s clear-as-a-bell a capella tap, and his finishing on-pointe turns wowed me.

I have a weakness for torch songs and applauded D.C. native soprano Nova Y. Payton’s “Music That Makes Me Dance” from Funny Girl, written by Jule Styne (music) and Bob Merrill (lyrics).

Other DMV musical greats Felicia Curry, Katie Mariko Murray, and Tracy Lynn Olivera belted out a rousing rendering of “On Broadway.”

And those are just some of the headliners of the evening. New York City, though close, is still four hours away. And that’s without traffic on 95 North. Having Broadway come to Virginia is the next best thing.

photos by Traci Medlock

Signature and Wolf Trap’s Broadway in the Park
Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts
1551 Trap Road in Vienna, Virginia
for more info, visit Signature Theatre
for future events, call 877.WOLFTRAP or visit Wolf Trap and Wolf Trap’s calendar

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