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Theater Review (LA): Julie Andrews: The Gift Of Music with Julie Andrews at The Hollywood Bowl

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The lights dim, and on the screen at the Hollywood Bowl we see pictures of Julie Andrews at different stages of her life: at her childhood home in England, her first appearance in America at the ripe age of nineteen, her appearances in the stage versions of My Fair Lady and Camelot, and the finally her iconic performance in the movie of The Sound Of Music, ending with that incredible long shot on the mountain meadow and the close-up of her lovely face as she sings “The Hills Are Alive With The Sound Of Music.” The audience joins in singing.

So begins a memorable evening at the Bowl entitled Julie Andrews: The Gift Of Music, with Julie Andrews herself as our host. She has brought the conductor/composer Ian Fraser and friends from the Broadway stage: singers Stephen R. Buntrock (Martin Guerre and Phantom Of The Opera), Christine Noll (Jekyll and Hyde), Kevin Oderkirk (Les Miserables), and Jubilant Sykes (Metropolitan Opera).

The first half of the concert is dedicated to Rodgers and Hammerstein. The first number is “Getting to Know You” from The King And I, sung by the full company including Julie herself. Despite throat surgery twelve years ago, she can still sing, albeit at a lower pitch and with a narrower range. She later sang “My Funny Valentine” by Rodgers and Hart on her own, to the great pleasure of all. Other highlights were Jubilant Sykes singing “If I Loved You” from Carousel, Anne Runolfsson’s “Nobody Told Me” from No Strings, Christiane Noll singing “In My Own Little Corner” from Cinderella, and a gorgeous group rendition of “The Sweetest Sounds I‘ve Ever Heard” from No Strings.

The second half of the program was a musicalization of Simeon’s Gift, a popular children’s book written by Julie and her daughter Emma Walton Hamilton. The music was written by the conductor, Ian Fraser, performed by the guests, and narrated by Julie. It was hummable, and I really liked “Blue Blue Eyes” sung by Ms. Noll. My only criticism is that perhaps the Rodgers and Hammerstein should have come second, because it’s hard to compete with the memory of those songs.

We were also treated to projections of the book’s exquisite illustrations by Gennady Spirin. The story is about a minstrel who learns, through encounters with a bird, a faun, and a fish, that his “Gift” is just being himself and letting the music pour forth from his heart and soul. The piece combines Julie Andrews’ twin passions: music, and her advocacy for children’s literature. The concert was performed on July 18th and 19th at the Hollywood Bowl as part of the Bowl’s summer season.

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About Robert Machray

  • Ozzie

    Note that the talented young singer is named Jubilant Sykes; Jubilant Jones is a soccer player.

  • xena

    it was throat surgery not neck surgery.

  • Eliza55

    I was one of the furtunate ones that had the opportunity to watch this great concert. Ms. Andrews hasn’t lost her charisma and magnetic touch with the audience. It was indeed a night to remember.

  • Stephenson

    The show was terrible. Although it was wonderful to see Julie Andrews back on stage we payed to see Julie Andrews sing not present. We left 5 minutes into the second half as did many others.

  • Damian

    I assume that Stephenson’s comment is about Dame Julie’s concert on May 8th at the O2 arena in London. I suspect AEG’s marketing was not what it could have been as, I think many of the audience came with unrealistic expectations. There was no way that we were going to see the sort of performance she gave 45 years ago. At age 74, and after a disastrous throat operation, it was wonderful to hear her sing at all, and to present the evening with all her characteristic grace and charm. My partner and I really enjoyed the evening, and were thrilled to get this chance to see an absolutely legendary performance. There has been some criticism that the O2 arena was not a suitable venue for a performance of Simeon’s Gift, with the suggestion that it would be more suited to a more intimate venue. I’d be interested to hear how people think this compares with the Hollywood Bowl.

  • Hobert

    I don’t know what the press wrote in England newspapers that some people got the wrong impression. I knew Julie would not sing a lot. The press release of the Os was clear on that. Also on YouTube I saw interview where Julie Andrews empresses that she will not sing much.
    I loved the evening and I’m glad that Julie’s voice is so improved that she could sing.