There may have been more Richard Rodgers than Oscar Hammerstein II in “Rodgers & Hammerstein on Broadway,” the final PSO Pops! program of the season. But the concert, nonetheless, proved to be the best of the series.

Selections from four Rodgers & Hammerstein shows anchored the program, which also featured works that Rodgers composed with his previous lyricist, Lorenz Hart. Pieces by composers who influenced or were influenced by the headlining duo also figured prominently.

Daniel Meyer, a finalist to replace Robert Moody as the PSO’s music director, helmed the evening, which also featured a stellar performance by guest vocalist Lisa Vroman, a Broadway veteran who is gifted both artistically and as an entertainer.

Whether dancing playfully across the stage, telling funny backstage stories or engaging in friendly banter with conductor Meyer, the slender soprano was an enchanting presence throughout her extensive stage time. Before all that, though, she revealed a seasoned vocal style, exhibiting a remarkable feel for the dramatic essence of every piece she sang.

Quickly overcoming an early bit of a microphone rumble, she made “The Sound of Music” come truly alive and later added personalized verses apropos of the theme of “My Favorite Things.” She gave “Love Look Away” the right sort of emotional undercurrent and flashed some burlesque moves during the introduction to Stephen Sondheim’s innocent/knowing “Broadway Baby.”

A lighthearted take on Irving Berlin’s “I Love a Piano” competed with a deadly funny “To Keep My Love Alive,” a Rodgers & Hart tune, for audience laughs.


Vroman also briefly duetted with Meyer, who revealed a fine singing voice, on a piece from Vroman’s years starring in “The Phantom of the Opera.” The two have obviously worked together before and had a playful rapport.

Meyer ably led the orchestra in a few instrumental pieces. A spirited medley from “Oklahoma!” competed with a selection of tunes from “Flower Drum Song” for melodic richness. Music from Meredith Willson’s “The Music Man” highlighted – what else? – the trombones, while Sondheim’s “Send in the Clowns” hit all the melancholy marks.

Vroman’s take on Sondheim’s “Anyone Can Whistle,” accompanied by Janet Reeves on piano, had most listeners, including many orchestra members, visibly enthralled.

One could quibble about there being nothing in the program from “Carousel,” a Rodgers & Hammerstein musical set in Maine, nor from the mighty “South Pacific.” But that would be to wrongly suggest that this edition of PSO Pops! was something less than a delight.

Steve Feeney is a freelance writer who lives in Portland.

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