Review: ‘Some Enchanted Evening: The Songs of Rodgers and Hammerstein’ at Riverside Center for the Performing Arts

by Julia L. Exline on June 13, 2017

Riverside Center for the Performing Arts presents Some Enchanted Evening: The Songs of Rodgers and Hammerstein, a gorgeous, glamorous revue that celebrates the works of two greats from the Golden Age of musical theatre. Conceived by Jeffrey B. Moss, Patrick A’Hearn directs a troupe of talented vocalists, with musical direction by Garrett Jones.

Scenic Designer Jennifer Taglieri uses a lovely moonlit backdrop to illuminate the live band that sits onstage. Conductor and pianist Garrett Jones is accompanied by Jennifer Curtis on reeds, Luke Gray on violin, Kristina Dowler on violoncello, and Dave Long and Tim Wilson on percussion. The instrumentalists do a spectacular job and their clarity, as well as that of the vocalists, are safe in the hands of sound designer and engineer Bethany Galyen. Lighting Designer Michael Jarett uses numerous effects, from Riverside’s specialty spotlighting to gentle hues and a revolving disco ball. The technical elements of this production come together beautifully and with a seamless ease, giving the performers a strong, solid foundation to work with.

An intimate team of featured vocalists work together with a youth ensemble to sing numbers from ten of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s beloved musicals, including South PacificThe King and I, and The Sound of Music. The show begins with Oklahoma’s peppy “Surrey with the Fringe on Top,” and transitions into “Why Would a Fella Want a Girl like Her?” a catty, bratty favorite from Cinderella. Each singer has a personality as distinct as their vocal ranges, which shine in their stage presences. I especially enjoyed the clever quickness of the transitions, which were thoughtfully executed. One of my favorites involves male vocalists Wyn Delano (whose rich bass won’t be forgotten easily), Russell Rinker, and Chris Rudy singing South Pacific’s “There Is Nothing Like A Dame,” only for Kathy Halenda, Sheri Hayden, and Abby Middleton, and Cathy Motley-Fitch to chase them offstage with their rendering of Allegro’s “The Gentleman is a Dope.”

The musical numbers range from profoundly emotional to downright silly; Kathy Halenda sends the audience into a stoic silence with her rendition of “Climb Every Mountain,” only to have them in stitches minutes later with “A Lovely Night,” complete with silly choreography by Stephanie Wood. Sheri Hayden gives an especially lively performance with Oklahoma!’s “I’m Just a Girl Who Can’t Say No,” and Russell Rinker’s “Honeybun” takes a surprising and funny turn.

The youth ensemble includes Mitchell Austin, Madison Brooke, Marcus Dowd, Erin Haugen, Alexander Kent, and Sydney Wynn. They display a lot of potential and talent, and I especially enjoyed their number “Getting to Know You,” alongside Cathy Motley-Fitch.

Listed above are only a sampling of over 50 classic musical numbers sampled by the vocalists. While this production will most strongly serve fans of Rodgers and Hammerstein, anyone who enjoys top-quality live music and vocals would have a great time at Riverside Center for the Performing Arts’ Some Enchanted Evening: The Songs of Rodgers and Hammerstein. 

Running Time: Approximately two hours and 30-minutes, including one intermission.