Concert Review: BROADWAY IN THE PARK [2024] (Signature Theatre & Wolf Trap with Laura Benanti & Jordan Fisher)

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by Barbara Papendorp on June 30, 2024

in Concerts / Events,Theater-D.C. / Maryland / Virginia


Last night, Signature Theatre and the Wolf Trap Center for the Arts (the only national park dedicated to presenting the performing arts) collaborated again to present the fourth annual Broadway in the Park, which showcased some of the best singing talent of the DC area and two Broadway headliners, Jordan Fisher and Laura Benanti.

Jon Kalbfleisch and Rayanne Gonzales (Kaiden Yu)

Both the amphitheater and the lawn were packed, Setting the tone of cheerful anticipation, Music Director/Conductor Jon Kalbfleisch and his orchestra offered a delightfully joyous medley from Mame.

Kevin McAllister, Katie Mariko Murray, Tobias A. Young, Felicia Curry,
Rayanne Gonzales, Tracy Lynn Olivera, and Matthew Scott (Kaiden Yu)

Felicia Curry, familiar to both the DC and Broadway audiences, served as MC for the evening — with a different outfit for each introduction. She opened in a silver sequin jumpsuit with “Magic To Do” (Pippin), joined by the Signature Cast, all stalwarts who had their own moment in the spotlight. Director Matthew Gardiner chose a diverse array of Broadway songs in style, era and sentiment, and each powerful singer knocked them out of the, well, park: “Life of the Party” (Andrew Lippa’s Wild Party) with Katie Mariko Murray; “There’s A Boat That’s Leaving Soon” (Porgy and Bess) with Tobias A. Young; “Cabaret”/“I Miss The Music” (Cabaret/First You Dream) with Matthew Scott; “The Winner Takes It All” (Mamma Mia!) Tracy Lynn Olivera; and “Stars” (Les Misérables) with Kevin McAllister.

Jordan Fisher in Broadway in the Park 2024 (Traci Medlock)

A particular stand out was Rayanne Gonzales who tore at the heartstrings with her emotive storytelling in “Paciencia y Fe” from In the Heights. Ms. Gonzales, who played Abuela at our own Olney Theatre Center, offered a grandmother’s reminiscence of her childhood in New York’s Washington Heights with love, strength and warmth. “Calor, Calor, Calor” indeed.

Matthew Scott (Kaiden Yu)

After an instrumental from First You Dream: The Music of Kander and Ebb (“New York, New York”/”Wilkommen”/”Cabaret”), Broadway’s Jordan Fisher (Hamilton/Sweeney Todd) took to the stage with “I’m Not Afraid of Anything” (Songs for A New World) a number typically sung by a woman in love with a man — great for PRIDE month. He shared that he met his wife one summer at drama camp. Now married and with a growing family, he expounded that having a child has changed him and mused if he could return to Hamilton in the role of Burr “Wait for It” (Hamilton). He was joined by students from Signature’s Overtures program dressed in Saturday night finery. These teens were beaming with pride and excitement to share the stage with their idol for “Waving Through a Window” (Dear Evan Hansen).

Laura Benanti in Broadway in the Park 2024 (Traci Medlock)

Tony Award winner and TV star Laura Benanti performed an entertaining 15-minute version of My Fair Lady and her comic timing and asides were priceless. The audience was regaled by her banter. She also shared her first memory of Wolf Trap when visiting her Virginian cousins (her parents are from McLean and Falls Church). The 10 year old was enraptured by A Chorus Line while watching on the lawn with her family; returning to the same stage she exclaimed that she has ARRIVED, followed by big hoots of acknowledgement from the audience. Ms. Benanti performed from her new original work “Recovering Ingenue” (from her cabaret Nobody Cares) dedicating it to all her fellow ingénues. And for “recovering ingénues” an actor spoofed Phantom of the Opera with “SING for me, SING FOR ME!” She retorted after swirling, high scales, “Sing it yourself!” The audience roared.

Laura Benanti with Rayanne Gonzales, Kevin McAllister, Katie Mariko Murray, Matthew Scott,
Tracy Lynn Olivera, Tobias A. Young and Signature’s Overtures students

To close the evening, Artistic Director Matthew Gardiner chose “Our Time” from Merrily We Roll Along by Signature’s favorite composer Stephen Sondheim. As with any incredible concert, this one left us wanting for more. Ah, well, we’ll have to wait for next year.

Signature and Wolf Trap’s Broadway in the Park (2024)
Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts
1551 Trap Road in Vienna, Virginia
reviewed June 29, 2024
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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