Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Hilbert Circle Theatre, Feb. 11-13.
Ashley Brown’s impressive
dramatic vocal range lit up the ISO stage just as she’s been
illuminating roles on Broadway and in regional theatres from the
dazzling Cunegonde in Candide to Charley Chaplin’s
fragile mother in Limelight, with sensible Mary and winsome
Belle in between.
The ISO, with Jack Everly conducting,
opened with an appropriately upbeat Broadway Diva’s Overture
that segued into Brown’s expressive admission of why she’s
here “with a song in my heart.” That established her
theme for the fast-paced 2-hour program of brief patter between vocal
sets. Costume changes into glittering gowns extended characterization
and the inner core of lyrics.
James Lane, James Lee Glatz and Ben
Crawford joined Brown for a sizzling interpretation of “Le
Jazz Hot,” a sweet nod to Dame Julie Andrews in
Victor/Victoria, followed by Brown’s favorite song from
Mary Poppins, a role she originated on Broadway in 2006. With
“Feed the Birds,” Brown showed her visceral connections
with Andrews and Walt Disney (remember the 1964 film), who also named
this their favorite.
The first act closed with a stunning
hold on the closing word of “When You Wish Upon a Star,”
with a similar effect for the final “I” of “So In
Love” as Brown’s bow to Cole Porter’s Kiss Me
Kate. The program closed with the richness of Brown’s
interpretative skills making Wicked’s “Defying
Gravity” another standout. Brown shared the spotlight with Ben
Crawford whose full-out “This is the Moment” garnered an