A Celebration of Classic MGM Film Musicals – review

Many readers have been asking if I reviewed the MGM movie musicals concert I previewed here. Yes, I did – for The Herald – and this is what I wrote:

A Celebration of Classic MGM Film Musicals, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall (November 28, 2010)

It’s impossible to think about Sunday’s concert by the John Wilson Orchestra without paraphrasing some classic MGM songs. After all, for two-and-a-half hours a packed Concert Hall revelled in the glorious feeling of hearing such iconic numbers as Singin’ in the Rain and The Trolley Song being performed live.

Hearing the songs was treat enough; hearing them being played with the panache and enthusiasm that Wilson and his crew bring to proceedings left me – to quote Brigadoon – with a smile on my face for the whole human race. And I wasn’t alone. The mood throughout was euphoric. The musicians were beaming, and the singers were having a ball with songs which are clearly a joy to sing. And as for conductor John Wilson, it was his energy and delight that you could see bouncing off what was the most animated orchestra I’ve ever seen.

Every number was unforgettable, from the opening Jubilee Overture medley, which established the lush MGM house style and the way in which every section of the orchestra gets a work-out in every arrangement, through to the absolutely sensational Broadway Melody, which brought the audience to its feet.

Kim Criswell (the department of Judy Garland), Sarah Fox (Jane Powell, Kathryn Grayson etc) and Seth MacFarlane (Sinatra, Louis Jourdan, etc) didn’t mimic the original singers but each evoked some aspect of them. Curtis Stigers’s contributions – notably on Steppin’ Out With My Baby, The Heather on the Hill and the terrific duet with Seth MacFarlane on Well, Did You Evah? – were stand-outs; Stigers having a Gene Kelly-style swagger about him. In all, the most swellegant party of the year.


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