The New York Pops under the direction of Maestro Steven Reineke recreated a famous night in musical theater history with One Night Only: An Evening with Sutton Foster and Kelli O’Hara. Inspired by the now legendary Emmy Award-winning television variety show, Julie and Carol at Carnegie Hall which united singer Julie Andrews and comedian Carol Burnett on June 11, 1962, the new live show brought together soprano Kelli O’Hara and mezzo Sutton Foster best known for her comic chops, two of Broadway’s leading ladies both with seven Tony nominations each and three Tony Awards between them of as now.
The appreciative audience greeted every number with an ovation and was most pleased when the ladies announced, like Andrews and Burnett, that they would like to reunite sometime in the future. Among their musical numbers were two songs associated with Carol Burnett, “Meantime” (which she had sung on the 1962 television show) and “I’m So Glad We Had This Time Together” with which she famously ended all of her television shows. In addition, the ladies did a duet to Frank Loesser’s “Big D” (from The Most Happy Fella) dressed in cowboy costumes, which was also performed by Julie and Carol in their Carnegie Hall show.
While the ladies sang few songs associated with their own careers, the evening began with a rousing and jaunty “Foster-O’Hara O’verture” (arranged by Don Lipton with orchestration by Sam Shoup) which was a tribute to songs presented by both singers in their Broadway outings. This was followed by a reprise of the “Julie and Carol 1962 Fanfare” in a new orchestration by Sam Shoup. They opened the show with a medley duet of songs associated with them as well as Andrews and Burnett (“I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair” from O’Hara’s outing in South Pacific and “Forget About the Boy” from Foster’s Thoroughly Modern Millie as well as “You and Me” from Andrews’ Victor/Victoria and “Close Harmony” from Burnett’s Fade Out/Fade In.
Foster then sang “Great Adventure” from the current Kimberly Akimbo while O’Hara followed this up with Sondheim’s “What More Do I Need?” from the rarely seen Saturday Night. This led to O’Hara’s lush rendition of “So in Love” from Kiss, Me Kate in which she appeared on Broadway in 2019. Foster immediately sang “Answer Me” from the 2018 Tony Award-winning The Band’s Visit. Dressed in ball gowns, the singers performed a melody of songs about dancing in which they waltzed around the stage together to audience delight, to choreography by Eric Sciotto, one of the supporting vocalists. The first half of the show ended with the duets “How Do You Get to Carnegie Hall?” (Dan Lipton and David Rossmer) and Adam Guettel’s “Fable” from the 2005 The Light in the Piazza, originally sung by Victoria Clark as the mother, and not O’Hara in her Tony-nominated performance as the daughter.
The second half of the evening began with the ladies in cowboy costumes and backed by four singers cavorting their way through Loesser’s “Big D,” to choreography by Sciotto. O’Hara followed this with the more romantic and quieter Jason Robert Brown song “To Build a Home” from her 2014 Tony-nominated performance in The Bridges of Madison County. While they debated singing songs neither of them had presented before, the voices of Julie Andrews and Carol Burnett were heard telling them to not be afraid and take a chance. As a result, both ladies came back together to sing a medley of 90’s Mega hits that they confessed had been associated with them in the past, a selection which brought down the house.
Foster followed up with two quieter songs, Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You” and “Meantime,” sung by Carol Burnett at Carnegie Hall in 1962. The supporting vocalists (Erica Mansfield, Sciotto, Sherisse Springer and Anthony Wayne) returned with a reprise of Kimberly Akimbo’s “Great Adventure” without the soloists. Winding down the evening, Foster and O’Hara first sang “Here’s To Life” and then a medley of goodbye songs, the Billy Goldenberg. Alan and Marilyn Bergman’s “Goodnight Is Not Goodbye” (from the cult musical Ballroom),“I’m So Glad We Had this Time Together,” made famous by The Carol Burnett Show, and So Long Farewell from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music. As the audience would not let the singers off the stage, they gave two encores one of which was from Foster’s most recent Broadway show, The Music Man.
The pairing of Broadway legends Sutton Foster and Kelli O’Hara proved felicitous just like the previous pairing of Julie Andrews and Carol Burnett, with each lady using her special gifts: Foster was best in the comic moments and O’Hara was ravishing in the semi-operatic musical numbers, just as had been Burnett and Andrews in their three concerts. Backed by the glorious New York Pops orchestra led by Maestro Steven Reineke, Foster and O’Hara made the most of this unique concert staging directed by Dick Scanlan. The many uncredited costume changes put the singers in either stunning red, black or white outfits. Throughout the evening the singers were supported by their own music directors at the piano, Dan Lipton for Kelli O’Hara and Michael Rafter for Sutton Foster. One Night Only: An Evening with Sutton Foster & Kelli O’Hara proved to be a memorable evening and one that is hoped to be the first of many.
One Night Only: An Evening with Sutton Foster & Kelli O’Hara (November 17, 2023)
The New York Pops
Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage, 881 Seventh Avenue at 57th Street, in Manhattan
For tickets, visit Carnegie Charge at 212-247-7800 or visit http://www.CarnegieHall.org
Running time: two hours and 15 minutes including one intermission