Gershwin’s Greatest Hits

Conceived by Light Opera Workslight opera works

Music by George Gershwin

Directed by George Andrew Wolff

Music Director & Conductor: Valerie Maze

Produced by Light Opera Works

At Nichols Concert Hall, Evanston

Tuneful tribute to the genius of George Gershwin is a winner

Mounting a revue of George Gershwin’s music needs terrific singers and a game rhythm section. Director George Andrew Wolff and music director Valerie Maze have successfully created a thrilling, toe-tapping rendition of the Gershwin songbook.  Featuring Sophie Grimm, Sarah Lynn Kelly, David Schlumpf, Colette Todd, and Martin L. Woods, this is a two hour songfest featuring many of the most recognized songs from Broadway, opera and  film.

Light Opera Works

Here is the song list:

FROM TIN PAN ALLEY TO THE HIT PARADE
“Rialto Ripples”………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….1914
“Nice Work If You Can Get It”…………………………………………………from A DAMSEL IN DISTRESS, 1937
“My Cousin in Milwaukee”……………………………………………………….from PARDON MY ENGLISH, 1932
“I’ve Got a Crush on You”……………………………………………………………………. from TREASURE GIRL, 1928
“For You, For Me, For Evermore”……………………………………………………………………………….1936
“Little Jazz Bird”…………………………………………………………………………………… from LADY BE GOOD, 1924
“Boy Wanted”…………………………………………………………………………….. from A DANGEROUS MAID, 1921
“Soon”……………………………………………………………………………….from STRIKE UP THE BAND, 1927
“Maybe”…………………………………………………………………………………………from OH, KAY!, 1926
“They Can’t Take That Away From Me”………………………………………….from SHALL WE DANCE, 1937
“S’Wonderful”………………………………………………………………………………. from FUNNY FACE, 1927
CURTAIN UP!
“Promenade (Walking the Dog)”……………………………………………………from SHALL WE DANCE, 1937
“Love is Sweeping the Country”………………………………………………………… from OF THEE I SING, 1931
“Bidin’ My Time”……………………………………………………………………………from GIRL CRAZY, 1930
“Someone to Watch Over Me”……………………………………………………………………… from OH, KAY!, 1926
“The Man I Love”…………………………………………………………………………from STRIKE UP THE BAND, 1927
“But Not For Me”……………………………………………………………………………..from GIRL CRAZY, 1930
“Blah, Blah, Blah”………………………………………………………………………………………….from DELICIOUS, 1931
“Shall We Dance”………………………………………………………………………………from SHALL WE DANCE, 1937
“Strike Up the Band”…………………………………………………………from STRIKE UP THE BAND, 1927

15-minute intermission

CONCERT HALLS AND OPERA HOUSES
“An American in Paris” / “Rhapsody in Blue”………………………………………………1928 / 1924
“(I’ll Build a) Stairway to Paradise” (lyrics by B.G. DeSylva and Ira Gershwin) ….. from GEORGE WHITE’S SCANDALS OF 1922
“Embraceable You” ……………………………………………………………………………… from GIRL CRAZY, 1930
“He Loves and She Loves”………………………………………………………………………. from FUNNY FACE, 1927
“Love Walked In”…………………………………………………………………….from THE GOLDWYN FOLLIES, 1938
“Bess, You Is My Woman Now” (lyrics by DuBose Heyward and Ira Gershwin)
“I Got Plenty o’ Nuttin’” (lyrics by DuBose Heyward and Ira Gershwin)
“There’s a Boat Dat’s Leavin’ Soon for New York”
“Summertime”(lyrics by DuBose Heyward)……………………. from PORGY AND BESS, 1935
“By Strauss”……………………………………………………………………………………….. from THE SHOW IS ON, 1936
“Preludes for Piano: 1. Allegro ben ritmato e deciso”………………………………………………………….1937
FOREVER GERSHWIN
“They All Laughed”………………………………………………………………………….from SHALL WE DANCE, 1937
“Fascinating Rhythm”…………………………………………………………………………. from LADY BE GOOD, 1924
“Sweet and Low-Down”………………………………………………………………………………….from TIP-TOES, 1925
“A Foggy Day (In London Town)”………………………………………….from A DAMSEL IN DISTRESS, 1937
“Love is Here to Stay”……………………………………………………………from THE GOLDWYN FOLLIES, 1938
“Embraceable You” / “I Got Rhythm”………………………………………………………..from GIRL CRAZY, 1930

Light Opera Works

From the above list, you can imagine the variety of Styles that Gershwin produced in his short life. Toe-tapping dance numbers to haunting ballads to jazz-infused show tunes to Broadway anthems, this revue demonstrates the genius of the Gershwin song book.

Valerie Maze on piano with Bill Harrison on bass and Phil Martin on drums smoothly delivered Gershwin’s varied music while the five singers produced nice solos and rich harmonies. Each “sold” their tunes  effectively as they engaged the audience with the essence of a given song. The joyous Gershwin song book is in goods hands here. I was especially impressed with the bass baritone from Martin L. Woods who nailed the Porgy & Bess arias with his thundering vocal chops.

In summary, Gershwin’s Greatest Hits is a slick well-sung two hour tribute to the genius of  Gershwin. This revue is a fine introduction  Gershwin to all who are interested in modern music. Light Opera Works has established a fine niche here and using Nichols Concert Hall is a plus. This revue is a “must see.”

Highly Recommended

Tom Williams

At Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue, Evanston, IL, call 847-920-5360, www.musictheaterworks.com, tickets $30-$60, Wednesday, Oct.9 at 2 pm, Friday, Oct. 11 at 8 pm, Saturday, Oct. 12 at 2 & 8 pm, Sunday, Oct. 13 at 2 pm, running time is 2 hours with intermission.

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