By Jennifer Mustoe
I had my tickets for BYU Spectacular!’s matinee. After it was over, I bought seats for the evening show. The Spectacular’s hostess, the Tony and Emmy Award-winning Kristin Chenoweth was too good to not see twice. And the other acts in the show were so splendid–let’s just say my Fan Girl was on overdrive.
The show’s Broadway theme brought amazing performances from all the companies and bands. “Comedy Tonight” from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum started off the show. The performers in this number included: Gentri, BYU Spectacular! Cast, and BYU Spectacular! Orchestra, arranged by Melanie Shore and choreography by Nathan Balser. In both the matinee and evening performance, this number went off without a hitch and started us off with fun, movement, color, gorgeous vocals and orchestra–the crowd was quickly primed for an amazing show filled with talent.
Twice there were tributes to the late LaVell Edwards, football coach for many years. This meant something to me, as he was coach when I attended the university.
Gentri came later in the program with their own hit “One”, backed up by the BYU Young Ambassadors and the BYU Spectacular! Orchestra, and was part of one of the Edwards tributes. Again, lots of praise and my oh my–these three tenors (Brad Robins, Casey Elliott, and Bradley Quinn Lever), two of them BYU alumni, have beautiful voices.
BYU Vocal Point performed “You Will Be Found” from this year’s Emmy for Best Musical, Dear Evan Hanson, arranged by McKay Crockett. Later in the program, they sang a wonderful Wicked medley with Ms. Chenoweth, also arranged by Crockett. These were performed flawlessly (how do they make all those sounds and stay so on pitch?) and the crowd clapped and cheered. I was sorry that “Popular” was a little short, as it’s such a recognizable piece.
The Young Ambassadors, a singing and dancing troupe, along with the BYU Music Dance Theater Students, performed “Another Day of Sun” from the film La La Land, and “Can’t Stop the Feeling” from the film Trolls, arranged by David Allen and choreography by Jeff Whiting. This number was energetic and filled with movement and great sound. Later in the Spectacular, The Young Ambassadors performed “Yorktown” from Hamilton, and this got a huge cheer. I heard people singing/rapping along–super fun.
Preston Taylor and Benjamin Raymant from BYU Music Dance Theater Students, accompanied by the BYU Spectacular! Orchestra directed by Dallyn Vail Bayles performed “Agony” from Into the Woods, which will be opening November 18 at the Pardoe Theater. This. Number. Rocked. I hope many come to see this show. The costumes were fantastic and these two fine actors nailed it. Straight up.
The award-winning BYU Ballroom Dance Company performed their amazing Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”, choreography by Curt Holman, Marat Gimaev, and Alina Basyuk. The crowd went nuts after this amazing, perfect, beautiful, energetic and flawless performance. The BYU Ballroom Dance Company performs in April 2018, so we got to see them early and boy, am I glad.
Ms. Chenoweth performed several numbers as solos. “Bring Him Home” from Les Mis, arranged by Mary-Mitchell Campbell and accompanied by Mark Johnson. I cried both performances–matinee and evening. It was so beautiful. Her voice is so pure, clear, strong, and perfect. Her next number was “Maybe This Time”/”I Could Have Danced All Night” from Cabaret and My Fair Lady, arranged by Harold Wheeler and choreography by Nathan Balser. The BYU Contemporary Dance Theater and BYU Spectacular! Orchestra performed in this number. It was a fun piece, with lots of movement. Chenoweth is a giving actress and shares the stage willingly and givingly. Her final solo, accompanied by the BYU Spectacular! Orchestra was “Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again” from Phantom of the Opera. I have often thought Phantom songs far overdone, but I could listen to Ms. Chenoweth sing this every day of my life and never tire of it.
My favorite part of the Spectacular!, I say with no qualms at all, was the Music Man Medley, sung by BYU Men’s Chorus, arranged by Lyle Durland, Rosalind Hall (the chorus’ director), and Melanie Shore, choreography by Megan Sandborn Jones. My son Caden Mustoe is in this fine, award-winning, large (180 singers) choir and they rocked the house! I had seen this medley a few nights before at BYU Choral Showcase, but it’s a whole new ballgame when they sang with Ms. Chenoweth. Several numbers had dancers, and my son was in one of them–“Lida Rose.” My son couldn’t say enough about how gracious the Broadway star is, how fun and sweet and caring. After the closing song in the Medley, a rousing and energetic “76 Trombones” the crowd went bananas, clapping and hooting and shouting. My son told me that Ms. Chenoweth requested singing with this huge group of young men particularly, and it was awesome. Caden said that they were directed to simply act natural when she walked by or danced near them, and all the men were giddy, smiling, and fun.
A few more comments about Ms. Chenoweth. She had lots of fun banter, but several times she choked up and wiped away tears. She gave much praise to all who participated, and singled out Ms. Hall, the Men’s Chorus teacher, saying that Hall “inspired her and makes her want to do better and be better.” My heart melted. What a class act Kristin Chenoweth is!
The show ended with “You Can’t Stop the Beat” from Hairspray with everyone who’d participated in the show piling onto the stage and the floor around the stage and it was a fun, upbeat spectacle. Yes, it was spectacular. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity for me to see one of my favorite performers come and share her talent with us, and I’m very glad I got to experience it.
Brigham Young University presented BYU Spectacular!
Marriott Center, 701 E University Pkwy, Provo, UT 84604
October 7, 2:00 PM and 8:00 PM
Tickets: $11 and up