Hollywood Bowl Celebrates Henry Mancini with Cynthia Erivo, Michael Bublé, & More

Hollywood Bowl Celebrates Henry Mancini with Cynthia Erivo, Michael Bublé, & More

To launch the official opening night of its 2024 season, the world-famous Hollywood Bowl welcomed more than 12,000 guests—many clad in various hues of pink—on the evening of June 23, 2024 for a musical celebration of award-winning composer Henry Mancini, specifically to celebrate his 100th Birthday and his indelible musical legacy.

Alongside the lush, grandiose sounds of the Hollywood Bowl orchestra—under the direction of Principal Conductor Thomas Wilkins—the evening also featured incredible guest artists Michael Bublé, Dave Koz, Monica Mancini, YOLA (Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles), and Tony Award winner (and soon-to-be Elphaba in the much anticipated big-screen adaptation of WICKED) Cynthia Erivo.

The highly-entertaining one-night-only event—a concert that also raised more than $2.14 million to benefit the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association and its learning and community programs—was an enjoyable "greatest hits" run-down of Mancini's half-century-long career.

Mancini's remarkable body of work spans the worlds of film, TV, and the Broadway stage. His many familiar musical themes from iconic films such as Pink Panther, Victor/Victoria, and Breakfast at Tiffany's have certainly cemented his place in popular culture. Personally, I was surprised and delighted to rediscover just how many tunes that Mancini composed, which are now forever ensconced in both the Great American Songbook as well as amongst the most memorable instrumental scores of all time.

Much of those scores were gloriously brought to life during the concert, which included TV themes from The Thorn Birds mini-series, Hotel, Newhart and Remington Steele, as well as ear-worm movie themes from Hatari!, Life in A Looking Glass, 10, Charade, Darling Lili, and, of course, The Pink Panther (hence the Bowl's recurring color of choice for the evening). Grammy nominated musician Koz provided some fun solo sax-ing on many of these anthems, and even ending the show with the familiar theme from the show Peter Gunn.

It was especially lovely to hear the Hollywood Bowl orchestra play the score live alongside video clips from the films, particularly the funny scenes from The Pink Panther franchise and the lovely song "Whistling Away The Dark" from Darling Lili which featured beautifully haunting vocals from Julie Andrews (both films directed by Mancini's frequent collaborator director Blake Edwards).

But, of course, the live vocals from the concert's special guest singers were the true highlights of the show.

Henry's own daughter Monica—a renowned, Grammy-nominated recording artist herself—offered up a lovely rendition of "Meggie's Theme" from The Thorn Birds at the top of the show, then later sang "Two For The Road," the title song from the 1967 film that starred Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finney.

Multiplatinum Grammy winner Bublé closed out the show (well, at least the pre-fireworks concert portion) with a pair of wonderfully-performed familiar standards: the rousingly-cheeky, samba-flavored, "It Had Better Be Tonight" from 1963's The Pink Panther, followed by, arguably, Mancini's most famous composition "Moon River" from 1961's Breakfast at Tiffany's. A consummate performer with bundles of charm, Bublé was a perfect capper to a fun evening.

And, finally, for her all-too-brief, three-song set to close out the concert's first half, the exquisite Erivo provided both Broadway fans and newbies a live masterclass in how to give a spectacular vocal and emotionally-tinged performance, that had almost everyone in the audience either awed or teary-eyed (I was both, to be honest).

She began her set with a touching rendition of "Days of Wine and Roses," the title song from Edwards' 1962 film starring Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick. The Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles then joined her on her gorgeous, heart-tugging take on "Crazy World" from Edwards' 1982 movie musical Victor/Victoria that starred his wife Julie Andrews. Blessed with a powerful range and enviable vocal control, Erivo had me in tears with her powerful rendition of the song. It was just pure perfection.

She then concluded her set with the more upbeat "Le Jazz Hot!" (also from Victor/Victoria) that displayed a more playful, ribald side. It was simply amazing. As this is my first time ever seeing and hearing live in person (a mere feet in front of me), I have become an even bigger fan. And if this is but a small sampling of what we should expect to see (and hear) in cinemas later this year when the first part of Wicked finally arrives, we are in for a real treat.

As always, a Hollywood Bowl celebration concert wouldn't be complete without a fireworks finalé, and it was certainly a spectacular one, timed to the songs "The Great Waldo Pepper March" and "Hong Kong Fireworks."

Overall, the evening was an exciting opening night concert, filled with extraordinary performances and enjoyable moments (the audience even got an unexpected light show courtesy of a SpaceX launch high above the skies). It's concerts like this that remind Southern California residents how spoiled we are to have such a world class venue in our backyard for summer nights like these.

Article: BroadwayWorld.com 

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