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DVD Review: Hallelujah Broadway

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Think about inspirational, uplifting songs from Broadway musicals, and what comes to mind? Jesus Christ Superstar?  Godspell?  Yentl? Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat? Maybe Fiddler on the Roof or The Sound of Music?

Have you ever emerged from a Broadway theater feeling you had a religious experience, whether the play dealt with spiritual themes or not? The man who produced The Irish Tenors, Bill Hughes, has put together a spectacular show that includes numbers from Godspell, Oklahoma!, West Side Story, Sound of Music, Billy Elliot, Rent, and Wicked among others. EMI/Manhattan Records will release Hallelujah Broadway on CD and DVD September 14. It is an amazing production.

Filmed and recorded in Prague at the Church of St. Simon and St. Judah in February 2010, Hallelujah Broadway features three soloists: Rodrick Dixon (tenor),  Alfreda Burke (soprano, Chicago Symphony), and Anthony Kearns (Irish tenor). Also featured is Broadway veteran Linda Eder. They are accompanied by  the Prague Filmharmonic Orchestra and Choir.

Although Hallelujah Broadway begins with “Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord” from Godspell, the emphasis is not on religious songs, but on songs that are inspiring, rousing, and stirring. “I’ll Be Seeing You,” a song that has inspired lovers for oh-so-many years, is a good example of a secular song with strong emotional content; here it is beautifully, powerfully rendered by Anthony Kearns.

Dixon, Burke, Kearns, and Eder provide incredible vocals, elevating such well known songs as “Oh What a Beautiful Mornin’,” “What I Did for Love,”  “Climb Every Mountain,” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone” (Burke’s exceptional performance, backed by the Choir). Dixon’s interpretation of “Somewhere” imparts new importance to this West Side Story classic.

There are over 20 songs performed on the DVD, and the quality of the production is impressive. While many live performances lose something when recorded, Hallelujah Broadway is a gem. Seeing the show live must have, indeed, been an extraordinary experience. This is not just “show tunes,” Hallelujah Broadway is an experience to which fans of serious music, as well as Broadway classics, must treat themselves.

Hallelujah Broadway will be released in September, but both the CD and DVD can be pre-ordered from Amazon. It’s so special, it doesn’t need extra features.

Bottom Line: Would I buy/rent/stream Hallelujah Broadway? Buy, for sure. The real question is, “Am I willing to let it out of my sight?” Sorry, friends, no borrowing this one; buy your own.

About Miss Bob Etier