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Lisa Vroman – Live at The Orinda

Lisa Vroman- Live at the Orinda

Orinda Theatre, Orinda, California, September 22, 2019

 

Opening night of the third season for Live at the Orinda series meant a lot to Producer Michael Williams who had spotlighted this special talent when the series originated but had to wait for just the right moment for the stars to align.  And it was well worth the wait to see and hear the exquisite talents of Lisa Vroman, a soprano of unequaled quality and possessing both the style and wit of a seasoned stage performer.

Well known to Bay Area fans from her record-breaking run as Christine Daaé in Phantom of the Opera, Vroman has a long stage career including her debut in Aspects of Love, Les Miserables, Hey Mr. Producer, Sweeney Todd, Oklahoma, Three Penny Opera and the soprano classics The Sound of Music, West Side Story, My Fair Lady, Carousel and Camelot. Quite the pedigree, which has kept Vroman before the public eye for decades.

Backed by musical director Joan Cifarelli, Vroman performed her characteristic mashups, blending two tunes not normally associated; “The Trolley Song” with “I Could’ve Danced All Night” and “Zing! Went The Strings of My Heart” with The Surrey With The Fringe On Top”. A crowd favorite is her combination of West Side Story’s cheery “I Feel Pretty” with Charles-Francis Gounod’s famous aria “The Jewel Song” from Faust, where both women revel in the beauty. Vroman floated through a sublime version of “Take of My Solitude”, a William Butler Yeats poem set to music by composer Tom Megan for his musical A Vision- Yeats in the Afterlife.

Vroman’s voice has grown more solid, more burnished with age and still holds it impeccable control and phrasing. She makes it all seem effortless which belies the skill and talent required to support that voice. Case in point is her lovely rendition of Marvin Hamlisch and Craig Carnelia’s “That’s How I Say Goodbye”, a song cut from the musical Sweet Smell of Success or the touching “I Won’t Mind” (music by  Jeff Blumenkrantz, lyrics by Annie Kessler and Libby Saines) written for an unfinished musical The Other Franklin. The song speaks to the desperation of wanting a child but ultimately being unable to bear children.

Vroman has great stage presence, a reflex from the many years trotting the boards. Her banter is both informative and funny at times. She brought tenor Martin Rojas-Dietrich onstage to recreate a famous blooper scene from her long run in Phantom where her sick co-star walked down a trap door leaving her to sign a duet herself. By her encore of David Friedman’s quiet lullaby “I’ll Be Here With You”, Vroman had the audience eating out of her hands. Her style is uncomplicated, clear and emotional and works its way into the very fiber of your soul.