Review: DSM Gala: An Evening with the Best of Broadway | Dallas Summer Musicals | Music Hall at Fair Park

Starry Night

Dallas Summer Musicals' annual gala was a fantastic show, featuring Chita Rivera, Amber Riley, Kelli O'Hara, Caissie Levy, and Adam Pascal.

published Monday, November 11, 2019

Photo: Charlie Waits
Amber Riley performs at the DSM 2019 Gala


Dallas — Dallas Summer Musicals billed its Nov. 1 gala, a night devoted to showcasing DSM’s commitment to arts education and community outreach, as “An Evening with the Best of Broadway,”  and they weren’t kidding. The star-studded event was full to the brim with talent, from the previously announced performers to a few surprise additions to the lineup.

The emcee for the evening was Broadway legend Chita Rivera, 10-time Tony Award nominee and probably best known for originating the role of Anita in West Side Story in 1957. Rivera kept the evening moving smoothly, telling a few anecdotes about how she got into dance as a young girl, and ad libbing a few jokes that kept the audience in stitches.

The first performer of the evening was Amber Riley, probably best known for her role as the powerhouse singer Mercedes Jones on the Ryan Murphy show Glee, but who has since gone on to success on the West End in Dreamgirls. Riley, accompanied on piano by Dan Lipton, performed several numbers from Dreamgirls, but her rendition of “(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman,” written by Carole King and made famous by Aretha Franklin, was probably her strongest number of the night.


Photo: Charlie Waits
Chita Rivera at the DSM 2019 Gala


Next up was Kelli O’Hara, resplendent in a strapless red jumpsuit, who was absolutely the star of the evening. Nominated for seven Tony Awards, first for her performance in 2005’s The Light in the Piazza, then followed by a slew of nominations for redefining classic Broadway roles in productions like 2006’s The Pajama Game, 2008’s South Pacific, and 2015’s The King and I, O’Hara is also no stranger to the screen, having starred in several TV series and appeared in films as well. O’Hara opened with a number from Rodger’s and Hammerstein’s The King and I, “I Have Dreamed,” to which she and regular accompanist Dan Lipton gave a certain bossa nova-y flair — and followed it with a lovely rendition of South Pacific’s “I’m In Love With A Wonderful Guy.” But not confining herself to Broadway classics, O’Hara also performed a few more contemporary pieces, including a song written by her husband Greg Naughton (of the band The Sweet Remains) titled “The Sun Went Out,” as well as a beautiful mash-up of Charlie Chaplin’s “Smile” with The Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun,” which O’Hara dedicated to her son. And although it wasn’t her closer (that was the classic “Make Someone Happy”), O’Hara had the audience roaring with her original number, “We Can’t Let You In the Opera If You’re A Country Star,” hilariously bemoaning her ambitions to make it in country music and at the Met.


Photo: Charlie Waits
Kelli O'Hara performs at the DSM 2019 Gala


There was a pause in the proceedings for the presentation of the Charles S. Sharp and Ruth Collins Sharp Altshuler “Angel Award,” an award honoring the work of volunteers and philanthropists named for two of DSM’s former presidents, which was presented to Sally Hoglund, a longtime member of DSM’s advisory board.

Following O’Hara was an unannounced guest performer, Canadian actress and singer Caissie Levy, taking a night off from starring as Elsa in Broadway’s Frozen (a role she originated). She wisely opted to open with the signature number from that piece, “Let It Go”, which offered a sneak peak of the production value we can expect to see in DSM’s production of the musical in their upcoming season. Levy then performed a medley of songs from the classic Hair, having won acclaim for her role as Sheila in that show’s 2009-10 revival, and closed with Jesus Christ Superstar’s “I Don’t Know How to Love Him,” another musical to look forward to in DSM’s next season.


Photo: Charlie Waits
Caissie Levy performs at the DSM 2019 Gala


And finally, the last surprise guest of the evening was Adam Pascal, who originated the role of Roger in Jonathan Larson’s Rent in 1996 as well as the role of Radames in Elton John and Tim Rice’s Aida. Pascal wryly acknowledged that he’s best known for one song, Rent’s “One Song Glory,” and so sang it with gusto, his powerful tenor as strong as ever.

The evening concluded with several group performances incorporating students from the Dallas Independent School District, including some award winners from DSM’s 2019 High School Musical Theater Awards. All the previous performers took the stage and sang with the students, with Pascal performing Rent’s “Living In America” with the students, who then performed a mash-up of “You Will Be Found” from Dear Evan Hanson and Rent’s “Seasons of Love,” which ended the night with a standing ovation from the audience.


Photo: Charlie Waits
Adam Pascal at the DSM 2019 Gala


The evening was a thrilling mix of seasoned performers and new-and-upcoming talent, only emphasizing the importance of DSM’s education and outreach programs. Additionally, DSM should be applauded for their “Buy One, Give One” twist to ticketing for the gala, which provided one complimentary ticket to students and educators across North Texas for every ticket sold, yet another indication of the company’s dedication to making theater accessible to the community.

DSM has since reported that it raised over $500,000 at this gala. Bravo! Thanks For Reading

View the Article Slideshow
Click or Swipe to close
Starry Night
Dallas Summer Musicals' annual gala was a fantastic show, featuring Chita Rivera, Amber Riley, Kelli O'Hara, Caissie Levy, and Adam Pascal.
by Jill Sweeney

Share this article on Facebook
Tweet this article
Share this article on Google+
Share this article via email
Click or Swipe to close
views on theater, dance, classical music, opera and comedy performances
news & notes
reports from the local performing arts scene
features & interviews
who and what are moving and shaking in the performing arts scene
season announcements
keep up with the arts groups' upcoming seasons
listen to interviews with people in the local performing arts scene
media reviews
reviews and stories on performing arts-related film, TV, recordings and books
arts organizations
learn more about the local producing and presenting arts groups
performance venues
learn more about the theaters and spaces where the arts happen
keep up with fabulous ticket giveaways and other promotions
connect to local arts crowdfunding campaigns
post or view auditions and performing arts-related classes, services, jobs and more
about us
info on TheaterJones, our staff, what we do and how to contact us
Click or Swipe to close
First Name:
Last Name:
Date of Birth:
ZIP Code:
Your Email Address:
Click or Swipe to close
Join TheaterJones Around the Web

Follow Us on Twitter

Subscribe to our Youtube Channel

Click or Swipe to close
Search the TheaterJones Archives
Use any or all of the options below to search through all of reviews, interviews, features and special sections. If you are looking for a an event, use the calendar section of this website. This search will not search through the calendar.
Article Title Search:

Description Search:
TheaterJones Contributor:

TheaterJones Section:

Showing on or after:      Showing on or before:  
Click or Swipe to close
We welcome your comments

I am discussing:  

Your Name:
Your Email Adress:

please enter the text below and then click or tap SUBMIT :