CCOHK: NIGHT AT THE MUSICALS | Hong Kong, City Hall Concert Hall

Although the City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong is primarily a classical ensemble, they joined with a cast of three singers for a sold-out, one-night-only celebration of Broadway’s greatest hits. Despite this being a CCOHK event, including many instrumental overtures, all the publicity for this event exclusively around just one of the three singers, the award-winning soprano Crisel Consunji. Could she possibly live up to expectations? Yes.

With the diction, technique, and upper register of Julie Andrews, Consunji is all class. Consunji excels in classic legit repertoire, like “I Could Have Danced All Night” from My Fair Lady (1956), but also delivers the pop riffs we crave in “Defying Gravity” from Wicked (2003).

As for the orchestra, CCOHK chief conductor Vahan Mardirossian led absolutely every tune inexplicably under tempo, and with a rigidity to the beat that fans of the repertoire would find odd, leading to some awkward moments of push-and-pull between the ensemble and the singers. On the other hand, it was wonderful hearing new symphonic flourishes to a pop score like Wicked, thanks to a team of talented arrangers. Though why they took out the famous “TOUCH ME!” money-note in “Memory” from Cats (1981), it is hard to understand.

In fact, one of the most exciting moments of the evening was not for a reinterpretation of a classic, but for the premiere of the overture and a song from a new, Hong-Kong-original musical called Wild, which was a clear hit with the audience. Let’s hope they take it up-tempo when it premieres next year.

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