Weâ€™re big fans of
David Hyde Pierce (Emmy and Tony award-winner of
Frazier, Spamalot and Curtains). Maybe even bigger fans of
Cole Porter. What could go wrong? The afternoon of our long anticipated soirĂ©e, the heavens opened up with a biblical downpour that threatened to wash us all away. But, thankfully it stopped and we set out with hope in our hearts and umbrellas in our hands.
If you havenâ€™t tried it, have I got news for you! Take the Metra and youâ€™ll feel like youâ€™ve arrived the minute you step on the train. Our car was filled with other Ravinia revelers and the atmosphere was electric. We got there in no time and were dropped at the historic Tyler Gate in the park. Ten minutes after the performance, our train whisked us away. How convenient!
We took an early train in order to have dinner at the park so we arrived while it was still light. The weather had turned from ugly to beautiful so we decided to have a light dinner on the patio of the Dining Pavilion. There are several restaurants both in the pavilion and some on the grounds. Next time weâ€™ll go even earlier and explore all our options and the lush surroundings.
In the over 100 years since its founding, Ravinia Festival reigns as the oldest outdoor music festival in North America and is lauded for presenting world-class music. The festival attracts about 600,000 listeners to some 120 to 150 events that span all genres from classical music to jazz to music theater over each three-month summer season. And Ravinia knows how to anticipate their guests needs. If youâ€™re coming straight from work, you can rent a small table and two chairs for the evening and even order a picnic to enjoy on the lawn.
The most recent addition, huge, video screens both on the lawn and in the pavilion, make it possible to feel up close and personal even when you're a lawn way away.
Our evening with David Hyde Pierce, Cole Porter andâ€¦
The concert was full of musical surprises. Internationally distinguished artistic director, conductor and pianist, Rob Fisher and his talented combo provided flashes of humor and brilliance courtesy of Steve Kenyon on winds and flute. Tony award-winning actress, director and singer Victoria Clark provided just the right partner for the witty, wily duets with David Hyde Pierce.
We were treated to about twenty songs â€”and one risquĂ© Irving Berlin parodyâ€”of which about ten were somewhat obscure. This is a difficult creative decision. If the entire program have been only golden oldies, it could be boring. Yet, when you come to a concert to hear cherished nostalgic melodies, you don't expect half the music to be new to you. The result was a less-than-magical but certainly de-lovely concert experience.
But the creative staging and interplay of all the on-stage artists kept us intrigued.
The drummer even â€śbleepedâ€ť a bad word. Victoria "stood in" for the trumpet and did a very credible job using her mouth and voice only. David played a tune or two on the piano, poured martinis and gazed whistfully from the table as Victoria sang.
And the encyclopedic version of â€śLetâ€™s Do It,â€ť left uncut "for the sake of time," was a romp.
All things considered, the concert certainly was not â€śJust one of Those Things.â€ť It was well done and very enjoyable. The combo was outstanding and David and Victoria both have gorgeous voices and stage presence. When my husband suggests we go to Ravinia again, Iâ€™ll say, â€śLetâ€™s Do It!â€ť
Ravinia Festival, 418 Sheridan Road, Highland Park, IL 60035, 847.266.5100, www.ravinia.org
Photos: Ravinia Festival and Herb Simms