WESTFIELD, NJ — In his rendition of a tune from the musical “Bells are Ringing,” Broadway vocalist Cooper Grodin played the role of a con artist and gangster looking to win over a wealthy lady.
Before performing the song with vocalist Maria Failla at the New Jersey Festival Orchestra’s New Year’s Eve show Monday, Grodin told the full house that his character, a man embroiled in illegal horse-betting, attempts to appear more refined than his actual self.
“He has to pretend to be a German from Austria, but he actually knows nothing about any German culture so for the next 3 minutes you’re going to basically hear me make up lies, and that’s why its funny,” Grodin said.
The song, "Salzburg," had Grodin alternate between singing from a kneeling position at the feet of his lady to lounging beside her.
It was one tune in the performance of Broadway hits performed with the backing of the New Jersey Festival Orchestra.
Songs including "Frankie and Johnny" from the play “Meet Me in Las Vegas,” "I Could Have Danced All Night" from “My Fair Lady” and the Bart Howard interpretation of "Fly Me to the Moon" sounded through the auditorium at Westfield High School as the New Year neared.
Bringing a twist to the annual show, the orchestra teamed up with members of the Dance Theatre of Harlem, who offered dance interpretations.
Music Director David Wroe admitted to the audience that there was one small hitch: He forgot to have the crew shine the light on him so he the orchestra could see his direction during the opening number.
Nonetheless, the musicians did not appear to miss a beat, and the lighting situation was quickly remedied in an annual show, which Wroe said he was delighted to recalibrate by adding dance.
“We thought we would change it just a little to give it a slightly more visual element,” he said.
Email Staff Writer Matt Kadosh at email@example.com; Follow him on Twitter: @MattKadosh