Montclair State University, NJ

1600 PENNSYLVANIA AVENUE Lives! (Well, in a way …)

"Earlier this month, Gary John La Rosa, an adjunct professor at Montclair State University in New Jersey, gave us a much better solution to A WHITE HOUSE CANTATA’s CD woes. Although he was directing students from the school of music and not the theater department, La Rosa is first and foremost a musical theater man. His directing resume includes AIDA – but the musical, not the opera. It also mentions dozens of other Broadway musicals — and nary an opera."

"So while La Rosa had Rarified Voices at his disposal, he wouldn’t just settle for Glorious Tones. His cast had to find their characters in the lyrics, which they admirably did."

"What Perry and Mott did while jumping the broom had the audience jumping for joy. But because Perry seemed to be substantially older than Mott, La Rosa didn’t have them kiss any more than director Jack Sydow had 30-year-old Bruce Yarnell buss 58-year-old Ethel Merman in the ’66 revival of ANNIE GET YOUR GUN."

"But by the time we got to our third chief executive, we realized that musical theater would win over opera in “The President Jefferson Sunday Luncheon March.” This melody gets better and better as A-section gives way to B-section and then to C-section and others, too. On the CD, the high-falutin’ approach totally ruined this most felicitous of songs. La Rosa knew how to handle it, though, and made certain that his students learned to convey the fun of it."

"Yes, the road La Rosa traveled was more of an Avenue – 1600 PENNSYLVANIA, in fact."

Peter Filichia – BroadwaySELECT.com

© 2024 Gary John La Rosa