Jeanne Sager | Democrat
KEITH LOCKHART, CENTER, leads the Boston Pops at Bethel Woods on Sunday night.
Boston Pops Warm Up Bethel Woods
By Jeanne Sager
BETHEL August 21, 2007 The Boston Pops may bring the cold weather to Bethel, but their heartwarming performances more than make up for the climate change.
Led by energetic conductor Keith Lockhart, the Pops returned to Bethel Woods Sunday evening after closing out the performing arts center’s inaugural season one chilly and rainy night last August.
“Last time we were here, the lawn was a mudslide,” Lockhart quipped.
This year’s lawn loungers were spared the possible showers of meteorologists’ warnings, but even the packed pavilion couldn’t escape the fall-like nip in the air.
The Pops more than compensated with their Tribute to Oscar and Tony, offering up a taste of the songs from some of the world’s best loved films and plays.
At times the two crossed over, with songs from both “The Sound of Music” and “My Fair Lady,” the only two stories to win both a Best Picture Oscar and Best Musical Tony Award.
The Pops were joined onstage for selections from “Kiss Me, Kate,” “Les Miserables,” and some of the Great White Way’s other favorites by Broadway stars Jason Danieley and Marin Mazzie.
The real-life husband and wife team coupled their acting chops with their talented voices to recreate the balcony scene from “West Side Story,” down to Maria and Tony’s wistful kiss and eventual parting.
In the rare instance where the opening strains of the classics weren’t enough, the Pops provided pictures from the films and playbills on the giant screens in the pavilion.
A more sedate crowd than the Woodstock boomers at Friday night’s Richie Havens and Arlo Guthrie reunion, patrons were still sucked into the experience when the lyrics to eight of the best-known film classics scrolled across the screens for a cinematic sing-along.
“We’ve had some pretty good examples of vocalism these last few hours,” Lockhart said. “Now it’s your turn.
“There are these places where admit it you sing along with your DVD,” he said to embarrassed laughter. “Admit it!”
Bethel Woods took the place of private living rooms with Lockhart leading the way through “As Time Goes By” from “Casablanca,” “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’s” “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head,” Audrey Hepburn’s “Moon River” from “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” Barbra Streisand’s “The Way We Were,”and Doris Day’s “Que Sera, Sera” from “The Man Who Knew Too Much.”
By the time the opening instrumentals of “Song of the South’s” “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah” sounded, the swell of voices had risen and folks who remembered the movie’s release in 1946 were clapping along.
The sing-along came to a close with the hopeful “Over the Rainbow” from “The Wizard of Oz,” a movie and song that have managed to capture generations since the 1930s.
It did the same for the generations represented in the audience from youngsters in strollers to gray-haired folks in their 70s.
“We’re just glad it happened and it happened during our lifetime,” quipped Jack Yelle, a spry artist in his 70s from Roscoe, talking about Bethel Woods.
Active in Sullivan Renaissance from its early days, Yelle and wife Pat said they remember talking with one-time Gerry Foundation head Jonathan Drapkin and Program Officer Denise Frangipane about the progress on the organization’s other project the performing arts center.
“It was exciting then, and it’s still exciting,” Jack said.
The Yelles attended their fourth concert in Bethel Sunday night classical music buffs, they’ve been to both Pops shows and each performance by the New York Philharmonic in Bethel.
“It’s phenomenal,” Pat Yelle said. “And the best part is not having to go back to Manhattan to see it.”
Besides, she said, Bethel is the perfect place to hear the music.
“The setting is exquisite,” she noted.
Driving her point home later in the evening, Daniely sang the setting-appropriate title track to “The Sound of Music.”
In a unique turn for a man singing the song Julie Andrews made famous on the hills above Maria’s abbey, Danieley sang, “my heart wants to beat like the wings of the birds that rise from the lake to the trees.”
As if on cue, a bird fluttered into the pavilion toward the lights and then made its way back out into the night.
After an encore performance of “All that Jazz” from “Chicago,” the Pops closed out their night with their July Fourth classic “Stars and Stripes,” the flag unfurled on the stage behind them.
Classic pop left the stage to make way for all-American country up next with Thunder 102 Presents Trace Adkins and Gary Allan and special guest Terri Clark Friday night at 8 p.m.