Luke Frazier is playfully coy when asked about the upcoming concert “Broadway’s Brightest Lights.” “I don’t want to give it all away,” he says. “It’s like good burlesque. If Gypsy Rose Lee taught me anything: don’t give it all away.”
While the musical Gypsy won’t be represented at the two National Philharmonic concerts Frazier will lead as the organization’s principal pops conductor, Wicked will. That’s courtesy of lead guest vocalist Megan Hilty, who got her start on Broadway nearly two decades ago as Glinda in Stephen Schwartz’s blockbuster.
“She’s doing a new version of ‘Popular,'” Frazier says. “But she’s doing it in a way she’s never done it before, which will be, I think, surprising to everyone in the audience.
“Megan sings a lot of symphony shows,” he continues. “But what’s so fun about this is she’s doing all brand-new arrangements and orchestrations that she has never sung with an orchestra before. If you come out to Capital One [Hall] or Strathmore, you’re going to hear her sing things with an orchestra that she has never sung with an orchestra before.”
That uniqueness, in which every performer does something unexpected and every show is different, is the Maestro’s m.o., whether he’s leading the National Philharmonic or his own American Pops Orchestra. “I want to make sure that when people come to a concert, spend that hard-earned money, spend that valuable time, they’re going to see something they haven’t seen before.”
“Broadway’s Brightest” also features Michael Maliakel, a graduate of Baltimore’s Peabody Institute who’s currently playing the lead in Aladdin on Broadway, and Luke Hawkins, who will demonstrate his tap dancing skills.
When pressed, Frazier offers up a few more musical numbers that will be part of the concert: “Before The Parade Passes By” from Hello, Dolly!, “Being Alive” from Company, and “Send In The Clowns” from A Little Night Music.
“[The show] is leaning more classic Broadway,” says Frazier. “But the arrangements are brand new. So while it’s familiar and warm and lovely, and it will give people a lot of good feelings and memories, it’s going to keep them on their toes. It will be anything but predictable.”
“Broadway’s Brightest Lights” is Friday, Nov. 4, at 8 p.m. at the Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, Md.
Also Sunday, Nov. 6, at 7 p.m. at Capital One Hall, 7750 Capital One Tower Rd., Tysons, Va. Tickets are $19 to $102. Visit www.nationalphilharmonic.org.
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