Kinky Boots’ uplifting finale “Raise You Up/Just Be” was a euphoric highlight of The New York Pops’ marvelous tribute concert Hat Full Of Stars: The Songs Of Cyndi Lauper. The 2013 Tony Award winner for Best Score and Best Musical’s original cast member Stark Sands was joined by Lena Hall, Alex Newell, the Camp Broadway Kids ensemble and the renowned 78-piece orchestra. Earlier, that long-running Broadway show was represented by the limber and magnetic Mr. Sands’ dazzling “The Soul of a Man” and the Glee star Mr. Newell’s soulful “Hold Me in Your Heart.”
Besides celebrating The New York Pops’ 36th year, this fast paced 90-minute concert paid tribute to its Music Honoree Cyndi Lauper and its Corporate Honoree, former Scripps Networks CEO Ken Lowe. The program consisted of songs either written by or associated with Ms. Lauper.
Vigorously dancing and sashaying around in a flapper dress, Bridget Everett offered a dynamically soaring “All Through the Night.” Ms. Everett even ambled up to the podium to boogie with the New York Pops’ music director and conductor Steven Reineke. The virtuoso Mr. Reineke also acted as the evening’s genial master of ceremonies.
Director and choreographer Cindy Thole’s staging and dance sequences contributed visual flair and momentum to the presentation. Sound designer Dan Gerhard and lighting designer Grant W.S. Yeager’s expert efforts gave further scope to the production.
Wearing an orange fedora and a flowing black outfit that recalled his 1980’s heyday, Boy George with his enduringly ravishing pipes gave a stirring rendition of “Who Let in the Rain.” “Money Changes Everything” was thrillingly rendered by Nona Hendryx. “Call Me Maybe’s” Carly Rae Jepsen did great justice to the anthemic “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” with her slowed down treatment. Ingrid Michaelson’s “Time After Time” was quite haunting. “True Colors” as performed by Estelle was wistfully commanding. Substituting for the previously announced but unavailable Annaleigh Ashford on “Sally’s Pigeons” was long-time Lauper supporting vocalist Elaine Caswell who magnificently channeled Lotte Lenya with her distinctive phrasing and grand presence. Neil Coomer, another stalwart Lauper vocalist also contributed his talents to the show.
In a slinky, glittering, puce slit skirt dress, the charismatic Ms. Hall was accompanied by several lively children who were beneficiaries of the cancer-based charitable organization Ronald McDonald House for a rousing “The Goonies ‘R’ Good Enough” from the classic film.
“Hat Full of Stars” was the lovely symphonic opening number. The New York Pops cited the “Kids on Stage” participants who are middle school students in their musical performance educational program for the orchestral “Shine.”
For the finale, Lauper appeared onstage to thunderous applause and a standing ovation to perform the sober “A Part Hate” with the New York Pops. Due to music industry pressure this song was cut from the 1986 album True Colors because it was deemed too political. It was later included on the album Hat Full Of Stars (1993). “They didn’t realize “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” was political” exclaimed Lauper. Soon after, the entire cast reunited for a joyous communal farewell.
The New York Pops 36th Birthday Gala: Hat Full Of Stars: The Songs Of Cyndi Lauper (April 29, 2019)
Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall, 881 7th Avenue, in Manhattan
For tickets, call 212-247-7800 or visit http://www.carnegiehall.org
For information on The New York Pops, visit http://www.newyorkpops.org
Running time: 90 minutes with no intermission