The Toronto Symphony Orchestra Dazzles with 'Modern Broadway
Updated: Sep 18, 2019
Early last week, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra was joined by some very special guests! From June 10th - 12th, Roy Thomson Hall was “razzle dazzle”d to perfection as Broadway stars Jeremy Jordan and Betsy Wolfe returned to Toronto for Modern Broadway, part of the TSO’s summer concert series. The Toronto Symphony Orchestra, lead by Steven Reineke and accompanied by Jordan and Wolfe, performed a selection of Broadway’s greatest hits from the last thirty years.
A seasoned showman himself, Mr. Reineke took the audience on a journey through the setlist containing some of Broadway’s best. While Mr. Jordan and Ms. Wolfe were showcased as vocalists, conductor Steven Reineke was sure to show off the glorious Toronto Symphony Orchestra with arrangements of selections from the five longest-running musicals of all time; inserting a little theatre history lesson into the concert setting. During the concert, Wolfe remarked that some of the more modern pieces weren’t originally arranged for a full orchestra. However, an audience member present at this concert would never notice, as the musicians of the TSO soar through the scores of multiple Broadway shows with ease, adding a full orchestral sound that cannot be forgotten.
Broadway favourites Jeremy Jordan and Betsy Wolfe sparkled alongside the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and received a very warm welcome. Well-versed in the art of storytelling through song, Jordan and Wolfe masterfully bring beloved songs and characters to life, handling various vocal styles with ease. Jordan’s clear tenor soars, a highlight of the afternoon being a moving rendition of Why God Why? from Miss Saigon. Wolfe adds her personal sparkle to every note, touching each audience member with her performance of She Used to Be Mine from Waitress. While the pair easily moved audiences to tears, their witty banter and joyful performances of A Summer in Ohio from The Last Five Years(Wolfe) and You and Me (But Mostly Me) from The Book of Mormon(Jordan, joined by Reineke) were infectious.
The talent and enthusiasm of all involved brought the audience to their feet at the end of Wednesday’s matinee, resulting in an encore of Take Me or Leave Me from RENT. Experiencing a song written for a rock opera performed by a full orchestra was mind-blowing, and truly demonstrated the genius of Modern Broadway. The encore encompassed the idea of combining modern show tunes with a classical orchestra and the result was brilliant.
For someone like me, this concert was an absolute dream. It was a perfect way to spend a summer afternoon; sitting in a beautiful space and witnessing gorgeous renditions of some of the best songs ever written for the Broadway stage. Roy Thomson Hall is an intimate space, but the warmth of the performers, moving performances, and surprise tribute to the Toronto Raptors (now the NBA Champions!) made the symphony feel like home.
Modern Broadway was my first time attending a symphony concert, and after this wonderful experience, it will not be my last!