Divas deliver wicked performance at Saroyan Theatre
Broadway legends present renditions of musical hits
Showcasing a wide array of vocal talent, the Wicked Divas, a duo composed of Broadway stars Emily Rozek and Nicole Parker, performed at the William Saroyan Theater with the Fresno Philharmonic, Feb. 11. Giving their renditions of popular musical numbers, the two staged a show comparable to one found in New York.
Saturday, Feb. 11 brought Broadway stars Emily Rozek and Nicole Parker to the William Saroyan Theatre to perform with the Fresno Philharmonic in Wicked Divas. This show is dedicated to the powerful female stars in the musical Wicked, as well as to other famous Broadway divas, such as Eliza Doolittle from My Fair Lady, Christine Daeé from Phantom of the Opera and Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz.
Since I am a huge fan of musical theater and am always willing to take the opportunity to listen to talented vocalists show off their abilities, I took my seat with high expectations for the performance.
The philharmonic opened with an instrumental piece from Gypsy and by the third number Rozek and Parker were introduced with the powerful duet of -All That Jazz-- from Chicago. With this promising beginning, I knew I was about to witness fantastic renditions of songs from some of my favorite musicals. After their initial performance together, the pair took turns soloing their way through eight more numbers. Coupled with the full sound the live orchestra provided, this musical experience was carried off with precision and talent.
Although both women had fantastic voices, their distinct sounds and personalities were evident based on the styles of songs they chose to perform. Rozek's beautiful, lilting soprano enabled her to hit impressively high notes while conveying the appropriate emotion, such as during the final strains of -Think of Me-- from Phantom of the Opera. Parker's lower register showcased her ability to belt out more comical, conversational pieces like -Diva's Lament-- from Spamalot.
After intermission, a selection of Diana Ross songs paid tribute to divas from the 1970s, such as Donna Summer and Barbra Streisand.
An instrumental version of "Over the Rainbow" signaled the transition into songs from Wicked. This was my favorite piece performed exclusively by the philharmonic, and it showcased the talent of its individual members by featuring a beautiful violin solo.
"I very much appreciated this production, as I love musical theater and, as such, I was familiar with many of the song selections. I sung along in my head and, as I vacated the Saroyan, I was humming along to my favorite songs from Wicked."--Austen Houts, '12
Throughout the show, Rozek and Parker underwent multiple costume changes -- this consisted of about half a dozen dresses varying in style, color and length for each singer.
The stage lights set the mood for each new song by changing color. During the pieces from Wicked, the stage took on a vibrant emerald green hue. Although there were no props or backgrounds to help convey the spirit of each song, Rozek and Parker's remarkable talent negated the need for such items to spruce up the stage.
Both women have performed in Wicked: Rozek as Glinda and Parker as Elphaba, although not in the same productions. As such, each delivered a song by their respective characters, ending the show with the pair joining forces to sing -For Good.-- These numbers were especially fun to witness, as I am a big fan of Wicked and knew the words to all the selections Rozek and Parker performed.
Rozek and Parker possess impressive repetoirs of acting and musical experience. Rozek has been a professional Broadway star for the past decade and while she is not participating in professional acting gigs, Rozek coaches and teaches in Beverly Hills, Hollywood and Pallos Verdes. Parker has starred in multiple Broadway shows, as well as employing her talents as an actor and co-writer on FOX's MADtv.
I very much appreciated this production, as I love musical theater and, as such, I was familiar with many of the song selections. I sung along in my head and, as I vacated the Saroyan, I was humming along to my favorite songs from Wicked.
This fabulous concert made me even more excited for our upcoming journalism trip to New York, NY, where I will have the privilege of experiencing Broadway shows for the first time. Though, after Wicked Divas' performance, maybe it will seem like the second time.
For more music reviews, read the Jan. 26 article, 'Give us Rest' preaches band's final message.