Dallas — Dallas Summer Musicals has its producing swagger back and it was well on display at their Nov. 3 gala billed as “An Evening with the Best of Broadway.” They certainly did bring some of the best of Broadway to the Music Hall at Fair Park. Leading the bill was Jane Lynch who, dressed as Hugh Jackman from The Greatest Showman, was the Emcee for the evening. She is a one-of-a-kind performer and she was at ease keeping the evening flowing while letting the performers shine.
Shoshana Bean was the first singer of the night. Backed up on keys by Alan Ferber, she kicked off the evening with grace and vocal power. Her rendition of “You Will Be Found” from Dear Evan Hansen (which will be on the DSM 2019-2020 season) was a highlight of her set. She has performed all over the world and she had a long run playing Elphaba in Wicked. You might also know her from YouTube performances with local favorite Todrick Hall and Postmodern Jukebox.
Jane Lynch introduced her “enemy” from their time on Glee, the captivating, versatile, and uniquely talented Matthew Morrison. Morrison was backed up by a band led by his castmate from Glee, Brad Ellis. You would recognize Ellis as the silent piano player from Glee. Morrison did medleys from two of his big Broadway hits, Hairspray and Finding Neverland. He also sang a lovely operatic number in Italian from The Light in the Piazza. Morrison displayed his skills as a true “song and dance” man with his “Singing in the Rain”—electrifying and frenetic, yet completely graceful and seemingly effortless.
Dallas Summer Musicals had announced that Jane Lynch would host and the evening would bring Matthew Morrison and Shoshana Bean to the Music Hall at Fair Park, yet it was obvious they had some surprises in store.
Perhaps the most successful surprise came from the performance of Joshua Henry, a Hamilton alum and Tony nominee for the recent revival of Carousel who wowed the crowd with two numbers from the show: “Wait for It” and the showstopper “The Room Where It Happens.” While his rendition of “Feeling Good” moved the crowd, I was especially taken by his performance of “Let it Sing” from Violet, the Jeanine Tesori musical that should be produced more often. Having Henry sing two numbers from Hamilton with the logo projected behind him was a reminder that the show is in this season at Dallas Summer Musicals.
Speaking of the season, it is well worth a subscription to experience Hamilton and Aladdin, yet you also get to see Fort Worth native and Tony winner Betty Buckley in Hello Dolly, as well as Anastasia and Miss Saigon. It promises to be a knockout of a season.
Another surprise performer was YouTube sensation Loren Allred who was featured in The Greatest Showman. Her “Never Enough” charmed the audience and seemed to really connect with the teenagers in the crowd.
The show incorporated students from the Dallas Independent School District who are enrolled in DSM Musical Theatre program. Host Lynch quipped about how precarious performing with local kids can be. She was surprised by the talent, enthusiasm and professionalism of the kids and so was the audience. The kids were the chorus for the finale of the night, “This is Me” from The Greatest Showman, a song that has become an anthem for outsiders and misfits. The headliners and kids brought the house down with this number which ended the night with a standing ovation.
This genuinely was an evening of the Best of Broadway. I was thrilled to learn later in the week that this gala event raised more than $500,000 for the Dallas Summer Musicals education and community outreach programs. Also, there was a heartfelt moment where DSM’s new “Angel Award” was presented to the Sharp Family. This was a reminder that bringing the Best of Broadway to North Texas audiences has been a focus of Dallas Summer Musicals for generations.