by David DeMullé
Michael Feinstein never ceases to impress me when it comes to finding incredible talent, and he’s friends with all of them. The Pasadena Pops opened the 2017 summer season at the Los Angeles County Arboretum June 17 with guest stars Liza Minnelli, Joel Gray and Storm Large.
Over the years, I’ve been getting used to ordering season tickets early because this opening concert like others, was almost totally sold out. With peacocks chiming in the background, Feinstein jumped in with both feet to perform as a conductor, pianist and duet singer to the joy of the crowd. It was a wonderful circus of performances and performers bringing the crowd to their feet in admiration, over and over.
The concert was named “Broadway: The Golden Age,” even though that was really up to the members of the audience and their age. Even I was impressed about the range of music played even to a Herbert Spencer arrangement of The Sound of Music, a work that had never been played in public.
And then came this woman named Storm Large who swept me off my feet with her rendition of “As Long as He Needs Me” and a duet with Feinstein doing “Come Rain or Come Shine.” The only way I can describe her performance is sultry. And the crowd went wild.
After the intermission, Joel Grey was introduced and he sang a medley of songs from the musical Cabaret. And at 85, he’s older than me and doing great. Liza Minnelli was introduced by showing a video montage of some of her greatest hits. And the new video projectors were outstanding. I didn’t expect her to actually perform, and when she did a duet with Feinstein, I couldn’t sit still. All and all, for a first performance of the season, I can’t believe that it can get any better – but I know it will.
The Pops is cosponsoring a performance by country-music star LeAnn Rimes on July 8 at The Arboretum. Tickets start at $10 and can be purchased through the Pops’ Web site PasadenaSymphonyPops.org.