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February 6, 2001

"Broadway" brings Pizzazz to Saenger

A review by Pat Pinson

Broadway showstoppers with singers who stopped the show is a grand way to spend a cold evening. The audience gave a warm reception to "Bravo Broadway" on Feb. 1 and 3 hosted by the Mobile Opera for the third year in a row. Jan Horvath, Doug LaBrecque and Michael Maguire are names known across the country for premiering roles in "Les Miserables," "Phantom of the Opera" and "A Wonderful Life." They are seasoned actors as well as musicians (and dancers) who can keep an audience in the palm of their hands, amused or moved by their performance.

The voices of Maguire and LaBrecque are matched so well that they can pick up another's line almost without notice. Maguire has numerous awards to his credit as well as several films, but it was LaBrecque who was in best voice. He didn't miss a beat -- every high note was clear and clean, and his closing "Music of the Night" from "Phantom" was one of the most intense moments of the evening even after two hours of singing. Earlier, his "Over the Rainbow" brought many people to their feet in ovation, and "This is the Moment" was a tour-de-force for his voice showing its range and control.

Michael Maguire's lyrical "Bring Him Home" from "Les Miserables" was beautifully clean and his best moment of the evening. The sparkle came from Jan Horvath. She had several costume/dress changes and certainly won the award for most words per square note in Stephen Sondheim's "Company." She was the neurotic bride determined "not to get married today" while other words ran "Bless the Bride, totally insane, totally down the drain . . . As it starts to rain."

The superb voices and the great orchestral collaboration with the Mobile Opera Orchestra, the choreography to each of the songs (even to Jerome Shannon's own choreography as he conducted the catchy overture to West Side Story), the commentary and jokes made the show professional and entertaining from the word "go."

Not only is it good to remind ourselves of our distinct American contribution to the musical world -- the stage musical, but it is just plain gratifying to hear these old favorites and newer works performed by some of the people who premiered them. It is a fitting program for the Mobile Opera to host and we hope they do it again next year.


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