Three Broadway Divas

Dates and Venue 30 & 31 January 2009 | Orpheum Theatre

Conductor Jeff Tyzik Featured performers Jan Horvath, Debbie Gravitte and Lisa Vroman

Reviewer Christian Steckler

It was a treat to spend an evening being thoroughly entertained by familiar Broadway tunes masterfully arranged by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra under the leadership of Maestro Jeff Tyzik and performed with three talented “divas”, Lisa Vroman, Debbie Gravitte and Jan Horvath. From the opening number by the orchestra, a sparkling, at times full and bold Gypsy Overture, the show carried us through a variety of moods and tones on a delightful emotional and sensory ride.

The ladies sang individually and together, convincing the audience that they were enjoying the experience at least as much as we were. Their humorous interchanges were well received, though the great efforts to flatter the “Canadian” in us early in the show could have been reduced a tad. Each projected a certain impression in her performances, and the blend added up to an evocative journey through a range of emotions.

Soprano Lisa Vroman’s operatic voice has brought her deserved fame in several roles and concert performances throughout her career. Her grace of movement and clarity of voice made her interpretation of “Then there was you” a dreamlike experience. Her range of voice and stage presence was delightfully exhibited in her fun with the audience as she sang “Glitter and be gay.”

Debbie Gravitte has a real show voice and appears to love entertaining. Her saucy performance of “Don’t rain on my parade” and touching version of “If he walked into my life” attested to her worthiness of the many awards and honours she has received. “Defying Gravity” showcased the singer's range of talents, capturing a vital part of her delightful personality.

Jan Horvath’s credits are as impressive as any could hope for, with leading roles and international performances that have brought her well-deserved recognition. Her dynamic style and versatile vocal abilities brought “Broadway Baby” to life. However, the audience was absolutely spellbound during her moving performance of “Don’t cry for me, Argentina.”

When the entertainers performed together, their personalities and voices blended beautifully. The arrangement of “At the Ballet” was touching, and that of “Big Spender” was just provocative enough. The audience shared their fun with “Mamma Mia” and their encore performance of “Ain’t no mountain high enough.”

The evening of song could not have been so polished had it not been for the fine and balanced performance of the VSO under the baton of Maestro Tyzik. The arrangements of the music, the balance of power between orchestra and singers were masterful. Special mention should be made of the “West Side Story Overture”, which carried the audience through rousing peaks and sublime moments of reflection.

The production qualities of the evening were very good. On a stage with no sets except the grandeur of the Orpheum, the lighting provided effective background reflections of mood and tone. The balance of sound was excellent, save for a few seconds of microphone malfunction.

Overall, this show was a wonderful evening of diversion and entertainment. The fact that most of the tunes are familiar to everyone made it attractive to even the most reticent of concert-goers.

© 2009 Christian Steckler