FORT WORTH — Show tunes were the order of the evening in the Fort Worth Botanic Garden on Saturday night when the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra presented Broadway A to Z: Abba to Les Mis.
The performance, part of the orchestra’s Concerts in the Garden series, featured guest vocalists Teri Dale Hansen and Destan Owens in a wide range of Broadway hits, while the symphony, under the baton of guest conductor Rei Hotoda, provided an exceptionally rich and lush accompaniment.
The concert got off to a rough start. After an overly long overture by the orchestra, Hansen and Owens opened together on a medley of Abba chart toppers from the jukebox musical Mamma Mia! The veteran musical stage entertainers would prove themselves capable of selling any number of Broadway styles over the course of the night. But Scandinavian pop was far outside the comfort zone of both singers. And, worse still, they sounded awful when trying to harmonize.
But separately, they were a different story. Hansen (who proudly identified herself as a native Texan) was much more at home with tunes like “All that Jazz” from Chicago and “Popular” from Wicked. Owens was not as strong overall as Hansen, but he had some nice moments, particularly in “Bring Him Home” from Les Miserables (despite some trouble with wind noise in his mike).
The only other slight problems with the concert, which drew an impressively large crowd of 2,700, had to do with programming choices. The orchestra was in fine form under Hotoda’s guidance, but several vocal numbers were dropped from the printed program, while all the instrumental medleys remained. They were good but, given the evening’s theme, it seems it would have been more appropriate to have made better use of the singers.
The concert series continues tonight with a program of classical music, Moonlight and Mozart, then resumes Wednesday with the first of four performances which will close the annual summer music festival on Saturday.