Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast

My Favorite Things
Artist Series Concerts of Sarasota
Review by William S. Oser | Season Schedule

Also see Bill's recent review of Mr. Burns, a post electric play

(clockwise from top left) Mara Bonde,
Katherine Pracht, Marcu DeLoach, and
Aaron Blake

Photo Courtesy of Artist Series Concerts
Artist Series Concerts of Sarasota has a mother's day tradition of presenting a pops concert drawn from the world of musical theater. In the past they have presented Kurt Weill, The Merry Widow, and Gilbert and Sullivan. This year Dr. Joseph Hold turned his attention to a program called My Favorite Things: The Music of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein. I liked Dr. Holt's layout of the program, with selections from each musical grouped together which allowed the audience to hear how Rodgers varied his unique voice for each different show.

It was lovely to hear this music sung by well schooled voices who didn't need microphones to be heard, and in fact these musicals came from an era when mics were not to be found in Broadway theaters. The stars that first sung these songs such as Alfred Drake, John Raitt, Mary Martin, Ezio Pinza, and Patricia Neway had big voices and several of them sang in opera houses as well. So it was with our cast, all had voices trained for opera. Mara Bonde, soprano, offered "Hello Young Lovers" and "The Sound of Music" in the first half and "A Wonderful Guy" in the second. Katherine Pracht, mezzo soprano, soloed with "My Favorite Things" and "You'll Never Walk Alone."

Aaron Blake, tenor, was at his best in two songs from South Pacific, "Younger Than Springtime" and "You've Got to Be Carefully Taught" because they are sung in the show by the juvenile who is cast as a tenor or very high baritone. Two of his other solos, "Something Wonderful" and "Climb Every Mountain," were not ideal choices for him because neither allowed him to open up at the top of his range where he is most effective. Blake will make his Metropolitan Opera debut next season as Alfredo in La Traviata, a true tenor role. Marcus DeLoach employed his very plush baritone in "It's a Grand Night for Singing," "Some Enchanted Evening," and "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'." He paired with Katherine Pracht for "I Have Dreamed," which was a strange assignment, the two lower voices singing a duet written for high voices. This song might have been better assigned to Ms. Bonde and Mr. Blake. A contingent from The Gloria Musicae Singers assisted during many numbers and offered "I Whistle a Happy Tune" and "There Is Nothing Like a Dame" for the audience's enjoyment.

Its was a joy to spend mother's day with this fine cast and wonderful selections from the musicals of Rodgers and Hammerstein.

Artist Series Concerts announced next season's line up the day before these concerts. At this time next season they will present Hot n' Cole staring Marie Wirries with singers and pianists. Other pops series events will include Piano Grand with five pianists including Dr. Joseph Holt in October, Todd Murray in a program called Croon in November, and a Christmas event called A Christmas Carole and New Year's Yves with Carole J. Bufford and Eric Yves. In March there will be a reprise of Sibling Revelry with the Callaway sisters, Ann Hampton and Liz. Because of the unavailability of The Historic Asolo Theater for a big chunk of 2017, Artist's Series will be presenting its events in multiple venues around the Sarasota area.

My Favorite things was presented May 7 and 8, 2016, by Artists Series Concerts of Sarasota at The Historic Asolo Theater, John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, Florida. Box Office 941 306-1201. For more information, please visit

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