By Jeanne Sager
BETHEL August 29, 2006 The season that came in with the bang of cannonball fire and Tchaikovskys 1812 Overture went out with a pop Saturday evening in Bethel.
The curtain closed on the inaugural season of Bethel Woods on an unseasonably chilly and rainy night that prompted Boston Pops Conductor Keith Lockhart to quip Im losing feeling in my left hand.
Fortunately, the Poughkeepsie native uses his right to control his famous baton the thin white wand danced through the air as the Pops gave their regards to old Broadway.
The Pops played the eighth show at Bethel Woods since the curtains rose on the New York Philharmonic in July.
Since then the amphitheater has hosted Ashlee Simpson and her tween following; brought the Deadheads to town for Phil Lesh and the baby boomers trying to get back to the garden with Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young; rocked out with the Goo Goo Dolls and gone country with Brad Paisley.
The Pops attracted a sedate bunch who packed the pavilion and saved their applause for the end of each song as Lockhart hopped from his podium and gave a sweeping bow.
Despite the constant mist, the lawn had a contingent of diehard fans.
Youre crazed, and youre wet, Lockhart told them.
Tony Award winning songstress Faith Prince accompanied the Pops on classics from Sondheim and Irving Berlin.
Dressed at first in a floor-length gown and later in a spaghetti strapped top and pants set, Prince belted them out and kept her humor despite the cold.
When Lockhart said hed like a word with her, Prince said now was a good time.
Were among friends, she said with a grin at the crowd, Were at Bethel Woods!
Lockhart leaned in.
This is something that hasnt happened on summer tour . . . I can see your breath! he quipped.
Welcome to the Catskills! a man from the crowd yelled.
Prince provided the comic relief for the evening, guzzling from a glass and stumbling about the stage for Sondheims Ladies Who Lunch, and pondering why her crushs trousers were vermilion and his friends call him Lillian in The Boy From. . ., a parody of The Girl From Ipanema.
The Pops closed Bethel Woods with their encore, their famous rendition of John Phillip Sousas Stars and Stripes Forever.
As an American flag unfurled from the ceiling and the song the Pops have played for more than a century of independence day celebrations boomed out, a tired but happy crowd made their way out of the pavilion and back up the hill to the gates at Bethel Woods.
Clutched in their hands was a program with an insert welcoming them back to the garden for summer 2007.
The Museum for the Interpretation of the 1969 Woodstock Music and Arts Fair, a 40,000-square foot facility with a 130-seat projection theater, retail store, walking tour, events gallery and exhibits, is promised for the second season of Bethel Woods.
The fall, winter and spring will be spent in a flurry of projects including paving the parking lot before the curtain rises next summer.