by Chris Hale
April 26 2009

liza minnelli metroway

    On April 20th, 2009, the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Marvin Hamlisch lead the New York Philharmonic through a colorful burst of Broadway moments with the stars that made them famous. The Annual Spring Gala titled “New York Moments”, was held at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall. The gala fundraiser featured Liza Minnelli, Joel Grey, Jennifer Holliday, Kelli O’Hara, Paulo Szot, Ashley Brown, Maria Friedman and Nikki Yanofsky. The gala event showcased each Broadway performer in one of their trademark “New York Moments” performances.
    The gala concert opened with “Cabaret” star Joel Grey performing his trademark “Wilkommen” performance playfully warming the audience up to the evening’s Broadway atmosphere.  
    Next, we were treated to the two rising stars from “South Pacific” playing currently at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre. The 2008 Tony Award-winner Paulo Szot captured the audience with his powerful “This Nearly Was Mine”. His rich baritone voice mixed with the acclaimed New York Philharmonic Orchestra was one of the highlights of the evening. He joined his “South Pacific” co-star Kelli O’Hara for a pleasant “If I Loved You”. Kelli O’Hara later performed a cheerful “I Could Have Danced All Night” as well as “Show Me” from “My Fair Lady”.
    Jennifer Holliday, nearly three decades from her “Dreamgirls” Broadway debut, belted out her signature showstopper “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” interestingly followed by “They Didn’t Believe Me”. The Gospel diva was clearly an audience pleaser with her emotionally filled powerhouse performances.
    The New York Philharmonic followed with a warmly polished instrumental selection of several Jerome Kern tunes.   
Other notable performances were Ashley Brown (from “Mary Poppins”) singing Cole Porter’s “I Happen to Like New York”; as well as the 15-year-old Canadian up-and-coming singer Nikki Yanofsky who performed “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” and “Take the A Train” from her soon to be released album “Ella” after legend Ella Fitzgerald. 
    The last vocal performance of the evening belonged to the energetic Liza Minnelli performing her signature “New York, New York”, which brought most of the thrilled audience to their feet in a standing ovation. 
    Marvin Hamlisch concluded the evening with a moving performance of “The Way We Were” on piano. Early in the program Marvin Hamlisch enchanted the crowd with a beautiful piano version of “Manhattan” accompanied brilliantly with a violinist from the orchestra.     
    The sold-out concert was a pleasing collage of memorable New York moments that lingered with you long after the 90–minute program concluded. Visit the New York Philharmonic online for additional upcoming events.  

Photo: (c) Chris Lee 2009