Performance » Music

Passport To Broadway

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Confession: I’ve never been to New York City. This admission is usually met with disbelief tinged with pity. I can’t really fault anyone for their stunned reaction. Visiting NYC is an American rite of passage. And having never been there, I’ve never visited Times Square, fed ducks in Central Park, traveled via crowded subway car, and I’ve never seen a show on Broadway.

Unfortunately, I won’t make it within 500 miles of Times Square this month, and I’ll be safe from the perils of the subway for the time being. However, perhaps I can get a small taste of that Broadway show.

Jack Everly directs the ISO pops.  - COURTESY OF THE ISO
  • Courtesy of the ISO
  • Jack Everly directs the ISO pops.

This week The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, led by pops conductor Jack Everly, is performing Leading Men of Broadway, accompanied by several vocal performers from NYC. There are performances scheduled for Nov. 7 and 8.

The music on the docket for this show includes selections from West Side Story, The Phantom of the Opera, Guys and Dolls, The Music Man and Les Misérables. Music that has been beloved by generations, that people often travel hundreds of miles –- or more –- to listen to is now coming here to Indianapolis.

ISO Director of Development Tanya Sovinski promises, “Our performance is as close to seeing a Broadway show as you can get without actually seeing a Broadway show.” The ISO is bringing in actual Broadway performers, including Ben Crawford (Shrek the Musical, Les Misérables), Ted Keegan (The Phantom of the Opera), Ron Remke (The Producers), and Kathy Voytko (Oklahoma!, Evita), along with the Indianapolis Men’s Chorus.

The show features a wonderfully broad variety of music. Despite (oddly) sharing similarly sketchy criminal backgrounds, the male leads of the featured musicals –- Tony, the Phantom, Nicely-Nicely Johnson, Harold Hill and Jean Valjean –- don’t have much in common, and yet they’ve all given to the public enduring, memorable music. No one can mistake the opening chords of “The Phantom of the Opera,” anymore than they can resist tapping their toe to “Seventy-Six Trombones.” These songs all evoke different moods and all stem from drastically different historical and social contexts, and yet every single one of them has been inspiring theatergoers for generations.

The ISO has the honor of being the first performance on the schedule for IndyHub’s Passport to the Arts program, and for the first time, they’ve opted out of the classical route.

“We went with a pops show this year, as opposed a classical show because we wanted to give our pops team, which is just as amazing as our classical team, a little love,” Sovinski says. She credits much of the success of the pops programming to conductor Jack Everly, who has been with the ISO for 16 years and whose contract was just extended through the next five seasons.

The Passport to the Arts gets you a seat for this Pops performance.  - COURTESY OF THE ISO
  • Courtesy of the ISO
  • The Passport to the Arts gets you a seat for this Pops performance.

“It’s a testament to Jack Everly and what he does,” she adds.

Everly has an impressive resume, including being conductor of the America Ballet for 14 years and working on productions as wide-ranging as Broadway shows and Disney films. He is able to provide the ISO with opportunities, such as bringing in prominent guest vocalists and composers.

Even non-theater buffs should be able to appreciate the perennially popular music in Leading Men of Broadway. The broad appeal and accessibility of these songs makes this a great choice for a first-time symphony attendee. And if you’ve never been to NYC, perhaps you can fudge it at parties when you offhandedly mention seeing Ted Keegan perform “Phantom” live.

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