Soprano Vroman shows theatrical flair in Miami Shores

By Dave Rosenbaum

Soprano Lisa Vroman performed Saturday night for the St. Martha Concert Series in MIami Shores.

Soprano Lisa Vroman performed Friday night for the St. Martha Concert Series in Miami Shores.

There was a moment during Lisa Vroman’s concert Friday night at Barry University’s Broad Performing Arts Center when the singer seemingly transformed herself before the audience’s eyes. The lithe soprano accomplished this without a wardrobe change or wigs. Nor was there any sleight of hand, although the result was magical nonetheless.

Vroman has had a substantial career, performing the role of Christine in Phantom Of The Opera more than 2,700 times in New York and San Francisco. But hers is not a name easily recognized by most casual theatergoers, and, after experiencing the dramatic and interpretive powers and the quality of her voice Friday, one has to wonder why.

Vroman’s two-hour program, presented by the St. Martha-Yamaha Concert Series, consisted mostly of 20th century Broadway show tunesYet Vroman performed with such nuance and affection for the material that it was easy to forget she has probably sung most of these songs hundreds of times (and, in the case of “All I Ask Of You” from Phantom, thousands). Her performance was well-crafted without ever coming across as forced or manipulative.

Whether working with a microphone—as in the opening pairing of the “Jewel Song” from Gounod’s Faust and “I Feel Pretty” from Bernstein’s West Side Story—or without, Vroman showed off a smoky soprano voice with seamless legato and just enough vibrato to make her voice interesting.

Vroman’s dramatic, vocal and interpretive powers were most impressive in two songs by Stephen Sondheim at the end of the first half of the program. The songs, “Broadway Baby,” from Follies, and “Send In the Clowns,” from A Little Night Music, couldn’t be more different, and yet, she was utterly believable when she sang that she was “looking for that one big chance to be in a show” and moments later lamenting, “I thought that you’d want what I want, sorry, my dear.” Her facial expressions and body movements were never overwrought, just simple and appropriate. Playful, brassy and toying with the music in “Broadway Baby,” she seemed to age before our eyes for “Send In The Clowns,” emphasizing, with her voice and suddenly worn presence, the regret of lost years.

The amplified sound in the spacious hall was pleasant and undistorted. Vroman was backed by the capable, unobtrusive piano playing of Paul Posnak from the Frost School of Music and Anita Castiglione from Palm Beach Atlantic University.

She could delicately lay down a pianissimo in the closing bars of Gershwin’s “Isn’t It a Pity” and float the high notes in “I Feel Pretty.” She even risked verging into camp by strolling through the auditorium and leading the audience in a singalong of Charles K. Harris’ 1892 pop hit “After The Ball Is Over” (revived in Show Boat). By that time, she had the audience in her hands. Vroman proved such good company, weaving in stories about her career between songs, that whenever she wasn’t on stage, you wished she were.

The supporting cast consisted of eight Florida Grand Opera young artists. Most notable were Betsy Diaz, a Miami native with a dusky soprano that sounds more mezzo, and Will Hughes, with his clear, weighty baritone, in Siempre en mi Corazon. Mezzo Carla Jablonski showed a flair for singing in the Broadway style in Gershwin’s “Embraceable You.” The ensemble sounded rather disorganized in Rodgers’ “It’s a Grand Night for Singing” early in the program but more cohesive later in Sondheim’s “A Weekend In The Country.”

St. Martha’s Concert Series presents the Amernet String Quartet with pianist Paul Posnak 7:30 p.m. May 30 at the Broad Center.

Dave Rosenbaum is a writer and editor based in South Florida.

Posted in Performances

2 Responses to “Soprano Vroman shows theatrical flair in Miami Shores”

  1. Posted Apr 20, 2015 at 1:02 pm by olga melin

    Great audience wonderful concert

  2. Posted Apr 20, 2015 at 5:48 pm by Mollie Prager

    Your “one has to wonder why!” is very appropo; Lisa Vroman is by far the most wonderful singer I know of and her voice is very distinctive. Lisa ranks up there with the best. Besides all the kudos for her singing, she is the most wonderful down to earth loving person always very interested in the students.

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