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"We couldn't end without two songs from Phantom of the Opera," explained singer/actress Debbie Gravitte as the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra's "Giants of Broadway" pops concert drew toward a close Saturday night at Little Rock's Robinson Center Performance Hall.

Of course they couldn't. Especially since the second half of the program was totally Andrew Lloyd Webber. And since concert "co-star" Hugh Panaro has played the Phantom, like, a gazillion times on Broadway and on tour.

Luckily, for those weary of hearing the title tune and its companion showpiece, "Music of the Night," at ASO pops concerts, Panaro has a fantastic voice. So does Scarlett Strallen, who made a more-than-admirable Christine.

The powerhouse trio of Broadway performers joined a slightly over-amplified orchestra and conductor Geoffrey Robson for a monster concert of last-century Broadway hit songs.

Strallen, on Broadway currently in Travesties and previously in the title role of Mary Poppins, channeled Julie Andrews in "I Could Have Danced All Night" from Lerner & Loewe's My Fair Lady. Her renditions of "Send in the Clowns" from Stephen Sondheim's A Little Night Music and "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" from Evita brought down the house.

Panaro hit high spots, as well as high notes, in "Luck Be a Lady" from Frank Loesser's Guys and Dolls and "Any Dream Will Do" from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. ("Eat your heart out, Donny Osmond," Gravitte crowed.)

Gravitte, currently off-Broadway in the title role of Sweeney Todd, who won a Tony Award for Jerome Robbins' Broadway, brought a new pathos to "Memory" from Cats and a comic patter as the trio sang in "Not Getting Married Today" from Sondheim's Company.

The ovation earned an encore, a mash-up of three Lloyd Webber love songs.

Singers, players and conductor reprise the concert at 3 p.m. today at Robinson, West Markham Street and Broadway, Little Rock. Ticket information is available by calling (501) 666-1761, Extension 1, or online at ArkansasSymphony.org.

Metro on 02/09/2020

Print Headline: Three triple threats bring down house at LR's Robinson Center

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