WELL TUNED: Strachan and Harris led a terrific ensemble at the concert.
IT’s always an enormous delight when Jamaicans give their regards to Broadway. The faculty of the School of Music (Edna Manley College) put on a splendid two-night concert, dubbed ‘Way Off Broadway,’ inside the college’s Vera Moody Hall on the weekend, offering interpretations of modern classics and the kind of showtunes that draw standing ovations.
Into the Woods started things off, with the ensemble (lecturers portraying the baker, his wife, Jack and Little Red), giving a spirited take on the blame-game number “Your Fault,” after which Ana Strachan (as the witch) belted out “Last Midnight,” displaying the kind of vocal prowess for which she’s become known.
Up next, the exuberant “One” from A Chorus Line, followed by June Lawson channelling immense feeling into her rendition of “What I Did for Love.” Trevelle Clarke-Whyne managed to further raise the bar with her powerhouse lead on the hyper-rhythmic “Mama Will Provide” from Once on This Island.
Stephen Sondheim’s beloved masterpiece Company was also in the mix, providing great material for tenor Andre Adman, who performed an almost pitch-perfect “Being Alive,” before Strachan (the officiating celebrant), Carl Lee Scharschmidt (playing the groom) and Ruth Browne (as the reluctant bride) gave a droll send-up of “Getting Married Today.”
Who knew Kiss of the Spider Woman had been turned into musical? “Dear One” (about confinement and the pain of separation) got a haunting interpretation from Lawson, with supporting vocals from Adman, Strachan and Michael Sean Harris.
Harris then put on his crown and dancing shoes for a rousing interpretation of “You’ll Be Back” from Hamilton, the acclaimed hip-hop-infused show about the American founding father, which also carries such high-voltage songs as “Wait for It,” a great showcase for Scharschmidt’s crisp, appealing vocals.
Of course, a selection from Wicked had to be included. Browne and Harris were in their element singing “For Good,” full of soaring vocals and palpable emotion, setting the stage for Browne’s bring-them-to-their-feet performance of “Never Enough” and Trevelle Clarke-Whyne’s solid lead on “This Is Me” – both from the Hugh Jackman flick The Greatest Showman. In short, Way off Broadway was more than an enormous delight. Concertgoers got a splendid feast of musical theatre.