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Rita Kohn
Music and Dance Reviews
Performance Programs
Performance Reviews
Hilbert Circle Theatre
United States
Indianapolis, IN

Movement and Music are in perfect Sync at Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra’s Opening Concert

by Rita Kohn
September 23, 2018
Hilbert Circle Theatre
45 Monument Circle
Indianapolis, IN 46204-2919
Rita Kohn, member: Dance Critics Association, Authors Guild, Dramatists Guild
Jack Everly shared something amazing at the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra 2018-19 season opening program on Sept. 21 and 22. Everly, who gains international stature as Music Director of the National Memorial Day Concert and A Capitol Fourth, both aired on PBS, comes home to Indiana as Principal Pops Conductor for the ISO. For almost two decades he’s been creating programs to showcase artists arising from within the State, along with headliners from elsewhere. Yet he moves beyond impresario status with this POPS program. In signifying the tenth anniversary of Printing Partners’ sponsorship of ISO’s POPS series, Everly designed a program that honors the core values of Printing Partners, whose reach of philanthropy extends beyond arts and culture to the underlying basics of the humanities.

“Cirque Goes to the Movies,” featuring L.A.-based Troupe Vertigo, shared the stage with Indiana-based talent, who got, and get, opportunities to gain what it takes to grow into headliner status right here. Supported by Printing Partners and other like-minded companies—small and large—Indiana is home to community-based as well as Equity performing organizations, with open auditions. If you can cut it, you’re in and on.

Jordan Donica took the weekend off from portraying Freddy Eynsford-Hill in the Broadway revival of "My Fair Lady" to return to Indianapolis as the lead vocalist in "Cirque Goes to the Movies."
Donica, a 2012 Roncalli High School [Indianapolis] graduate made his Broadway debut on June 13, 2016, as Raoul in The Phantom of the Opera , right after graduating from Otterbein University. In 2017, Donica took on dual roles as the Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson in the Los Angeles and San Francisco company of Hamilton. From that gig he returned to Broadway with My Fair Lady .

In 2012, Donica was with the young company productions at Footlite Musicals on Alabama Street in Indianapolis, portraying Tom Collins in "RENT" and Jim in "Big River." He impressed the audience with the immediacy of a real person, in real time dealing with real issues; he wasn’t acting, he was being. Donica’s sensitivity to stage portrayal was at the fore with each song at the ISO Pops on Sept. 21, when I was experiencing him as a rising star, a half dozen years forward from watching him as an aspiring teen. At the ISO I especially paid attention to “On the Street Where You Live,” his key number in "My Fair Lady." In the brevity of this song we experience the trajectory from a driftless playboy to a person recognizing his responsibility to Eliza, whose strengths uplift him. Donica’s phrasing and body language encapsulate what is wonderful about Eliza, and expresses his gratefulness to her for entering into his life. In this song he underscores Eliza’s wisdom—how she is treated, looked upon defines her by others. Higgins sees her as a guttersnipe; Freddy sees her as a lady, an equal partner. It’s Freddy’s life-changing moment, imparting to us why Eliza’s choice is the right one despite Higgins’ explosive ridicule of Freddy.

"Cirque Goes to the Movies" sparkles with Troupe Vertigo’s aerialists, contortionists, strong men and dancers visualizing the action of key songs from classic movies. Musicality of movement is at the center of everything Troupe Vertigo does, be it comedic or imbued with pathos. Even if you’ve never seen the film, the storyline takes shape with Troupe Vertigo movement in sync with music performed by the full Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.

Indiana University Jacobs School of Music graduate Christina Nicastro delivered a luscious “Over the Rainbow” as an aerialist, dressed as Dorothy-including red slippers- floated, twisted and turned through the lyrics and, at the precise moment, clicked her heels for the descent back to the stage-home.

Indianapolis native Tiffany Gilliam joined Donica for a sterling “Beauty and the Beast,” where she showed both vocal and portrayal skills to make us believe the transformative powers of a heart open to ’seeing’ beyond outward appearance.

The creme de la creme delight of the production was the appearance of the Center Grove Sound System and CG Singers, the two top vocal ensembles at Center Grove High School in Greenwood, Indiana. As nationally-award winning show choirs, they showed their chops, moving comfortably from filling the stage with the opening raucous number, “The Greatest Show,” to the closing meditative “A Million Dreams,” working seamlessly with Troupe Vertigo, the soloists and the ISO to encapsulate the feel of "The Greatest Showman," the 2017 film glyphing the life of P.T. Barnum.

The program introduced music from sixteen films, with a mix featuring the headliners and ISO players. The nod to Printing Partners sponsorship emphasized the essentiality of local support for access to the arts in all its forms and genres, and at all levels, particularly in schools-public and private.

Next up for ISO Pops is Sutton Foster with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Oct. 19-20, 2018.

Learn more at: iso@IndianapolisSymphony.org and at:

and at: https://www.facebook.com/jordandonicaofficial/
Troupe Vertigo

Troupe Vertigo

Photo © & courtesy of Photographer Unknown

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