… or, shall I call is a “show”?

Funny thing, that. Dan and I were talking about this a while back. I’d not call an opera performance a concert, but I’ll call it a performance or even, rarely, a show. I will call a symphony concert a concert or a performance, but not a show. I will call a musical theatre show a … get ready for it … show. Ballet? I call that a performance. If we are doing a concert version of an opera (not staged) it’s a concert performance of an opera. (I hope you’re taking notes; there will be a test later today.)

Anyway, the Merc has an article about this week’s concert, show. It includes this:

“This show,” Mok predicts, “is going to knock everyone’s socks off. We’re going to run it like a regular radio show, with real live actors. Very cute. Very glamorous.”

She has retooled the script, originally co-written with Gershwin biographer and BBC producer Rodney Greenberg, to emphasize the composer’s time in California. Putting his stamp on the updated script is Hoyt Smith, an announcer from classical music station KDFC (102.1 FM). He will appear onstage as the radio announcer, reading transcribed 1930s commercials for Feenamint laxative chewing gum, a ubiquitous sponsor of the era, and bantering with Joseph Frank, longtime professor of voice at San Jose State University and the other actor in the production.

And of course there will be plenty of music, not just from Mok and the orchestra, conducted by Paul Polivnick, but from singer Sarah Uriarte Berry, who has starred in Broadway productions of “The Light in the Piazza” and “Les Misérables.”

She will sing a Gershwin medley of “Nice Work if You Can Get It,” “Someone to Watch Over Me” and ‘S’Wonderful.” The arrangements are by Bill Holcombe, a saxophone-playing alumnus of Tommy Dorsey’s big band, and will hew closely to the originals by Paul Whiteman, whose name and orchestra were synonymous with Gershwin in the ’20s.


It’ll be interesting to see and hear how all of this falls together. (I do hope we on stage can hear … sometimes it’s impossible to hear what the miked speakers are saying for some reason.)

I used to put together Christmas programs with readings, a cappella singing, and poetry. I have long thought I’d love to do some recitals that included poetry, music and photography. (Having a husband who does fabulous photography helps me dream!) So I’m all for these kinds of things. Who says every single thing I do as an oboist has to include silent people applauding at exactly the right times, sitting very still in their seats? I dream of chamber music concerts where we chat with the audience. Or even say, “This next piece has this killer thing that scares me to death … let’s see if I can get it!” Heck, why not? Wouldn’t it be kind of fun to bring the listeners a little closer to what we do sometimes?

Or maybe I’m just crazy.

1 Comment

  1. Pingback: oboeinsight » Blog Archive » Well, There You Go!

  2. When I’ve done shows in Saratoga I have often been literally within touching distance of the front row (they don’t have a pit, or didn’t, anyhow). Often I would interact with them, and then there’s the time I was doing Guys and Dolls and during one of the prettier tunes I noticed (out of the corner of my eye) the older couple sitting next to me reach out and hold hands – I got all choked up and biffed the nice counter-melody I was playing…

    Anyhow, it is fun, at least, it was for me. Fortunately (as I was playing horn at the time) they were to my left…