WESTFIELD, NJ – The New Jersey Festival Orchestra helped concertgoers kick off their New Year’s Eve celebrations Wednesday night with their performance of “The Guys and Dolls of Broadway,” a revue of American musical theater favorites, held at Westfield High School.
In its 11th year, the New Year’s Eve concert has become a tradition for many local music enthusiasts who are treated to top-notch shows that typically feature guest vocalists from Broadway.
“We’re very fortunate to be able to leverage our proximity to New York to get good, really good guests,” said Elizabeth Ryan, director of marketing for the NJFO.
Entertaining the nearly sold-out crowd Wednesday night along with the musicians were soprano Analisa Leaming, mezzo soprano Beth Kirkpatrick, tenor Jason Forbach and baritone Greggory Brandt.
Forbach and Fitzpatrick are currently performing with the national tour of Les Miserables, while Leaming is about to appear in the new production of On the Twentieth Century on Broadway with Kristin Chenoweth. Brandt has also performed in the Broadway and national touring productions of Les Miserables.
Ryan noted that Music Director and Conductor David Wroe’s energy and ability to connect to the audience also make the concert special.
“He’s a fun personality and always sends everyone off in a good mood,” Ryan said.
The concert was made possible, in part, by generous support by PSE&G.
In the audience were Anne Mendez of New Providence and David Bernot of Union, who came to the concert before heading to a New Year’s Eve party. The couple had discussed going out to dinner instead, but Mendez preferred attending the show.
“Oh, I think it’s a wonderful show. I’m enjoying it,” she said at intermission.
Between selections, Maestro Wroe turned to introduce the upcoming pieces, providing a bit of background on the music for attendees.
“What would be a retrospective of the American songbook without something from South Pacific?” he said before Leaming took the stage to sing “A wonderful Guy” from the well-loved musical.
Wroe noted that songs from South Pacific include universal themes that make the music timeless, such as love and loss in “A Wonderful Guy.”
“It’s love that triumphs in the end,” Wroe said.