By Sandi Durell . . .
What a treat to spend my first evening June 19th at the newest and most unique site in Manhattan! Not only is it built out in the Hudson River (a remarkable thing to view and walk about on), but luckily the evening I attended was the very first concert on Little Island Broadway Our Way Live with the Broadway Inspirational Voices (BIV) with Michael McElroy (also Little Island Artist-in-Residence) and his amazing Broadway singers (awarded Tony Honors for Excellence in Theatre).
In the new Amp – the theater created for many concerts and events to come – the excellent production on Sat. June 19th included a band of top Broadway musicians, with many arrangements by Michael McElroy and orchestrations by some of the best including Joseph Joubert, Alex Lacamoire, Isaac Harlan to name a few.
Arrangements were fresh and newly imagined i.e. “A Whole New World”(Aladdin); “Play” (Finding Neverland); “Journey to the Past” (Anastasia); “America” (West Side Story) . . . Voices were stunning, harmonies divine, choreography (Dell Howlett) top of the line.
Guests included Jennifer Nettles (bare-footed) in sit up and take notice arrangements of “Oh What a Beautiful Mornin’ (Oklahoma!) and “Sit Down You’re Rockin’ the Boat” (Guys and Dolls) with full cast backups.
Phylicia Rashad and Daniel J. Watts individually sobered the audience reciting Spoken Word pieces, written by Daniel J. Watts, that reached deep inside the soul.
The audience was on their feet more than in their seats with appreciation and applause especially arousing when Ayodele Casel and Daniel J. Watts took the stage in a tap dance number (self choreographed) to “You Can’t Stop the Beat” (Hairspray). The undulating bodies of dancers Garen Scribner and Lloyd Boyd were thrilling to watch in “All I’ve Ever Known” (Hadestown), choreography by Mimi Scardulla.
Adding to the excitement of this first night was . . . a little rain! Ah, but no worries as the staff rapidly handed out rain ponchos to the audience. Although there were a couple of unscheduled intermissions, everyone stayed and cheered the staff as they moped the stage, covered and uncovered it, as we waited for the show to continue. And it certainly did – the enthusiastic audience unable to get enough.
Many of the seats were filled with some of Broadway’s best including Danny Burstein, Jenn Colella, Telly Leung and more.
Oh what a night! Be sure to check the Little Island website for all the information regarding access and a calendar of upcoming programs. www.LittleIsland.org
Photos: Sandi Durell and her handy IPhone