Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra POPS, Oct. 20.
Jule Styne and George Gershwin are the two best composers of overtures. Each had an uncanny knack for getting the audience immediately excited about and involved in what was to come. Styne, who followed Gershwin on Broadway, also wrote his own overtures, beginning in 1949 with Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, which followed his 1947 Broadway premiere, High Button Shoes, with its marvelous soft shoe spot, “I Get Jealous.” Styne’s easy flow of melody and sense of theatre combined throughout his star-studded 20-some years on Broadway and in Hollywood. Pops conductor Jack Everly, who has had a long connection with Styne’s Broadway revivals, opened and closed the first half of this program with probably the best of Styne’s overtures. Funny Girl and Gypsy both open with trumpets soaring above the orchestra, filling the audience with tension that is magically followed by cascades of rhythm from the orchestra as a whole. Saturday’s program pleased an overflow audience, yet this reviewer was hearing a less than crisp attack; rather, it felt as though notes were rear-ending each other. A change of seating for the second half, however, proved it could have been the location that caused the feeling of players not quite listening to each other. Backed by the ISO and her own 3-man combo, guest song stylist Linda Eder won the crowd over with her engaging personality and vocal qualities reminiscent of Garland and Streisand. Yet she’s her own star, as she proved with a dynamic rendition from Mitch Leigh’s Man of La Mancha.