We all know the way to Carnegie Hall. Practice, practice, practice. But how do you get from Carnegie Hall to Paradise? Through the Sanders County Arts Council.
Saturday night, April 13, the musical magic of the big stage unfolded at the Paradise Center and practically blew the roof off that old school. O Sole Trio gave a joyful, virtuoso gift to Sanders County with their “Bravissimo Broadway” revue. Several in the audience lip-synched the familiar strains of favorites from decades of musicals. From Sound of Music’s “Edelweiss” (“Oh, you’ve heard of it? It’s so obscure!” said the group’s jaunty tenor, Michael Kelly) and Fiddler on the Roof’s poignant “Sunrise, Sunset” to Phantom of the Opera and a five-song trip through Les Misérables, there were tears on more than one audience member’s cheeks.
The ringing soprano of Broadway leading lady Erin Shields is a sound as close to perfection as exists on earth — exquisite, yet unpretentious, full of humanity and humor and joy and sorrow.
Shields told of growing up in a small town in Illinois and travelling to Chicago to see all the Broadway shows that visited. At age six, she said, “I just knew. THAT is what I want to do! I have to sing in those shows.” Her prolific biography includes playing Eliza Doolittle in “My Fair Lady,” and her own jazz show, “The Great American Songbook Retold.”
MICHAEL KELLY recently joined the trio after the retirement of baritone Giuseppe Spoletini. Kelly exudes energy and talent, and his rich tenor is swoon-inducing, whether as Freddy (“On the Street Where You Live”) or Tony (“Maria”), or any other heartthrob.
Sometimes the “accompanist” in a group can take back stage, but world class pianist/violinist David Shenton, married to Shields for twelve years, was no wallflower. Shenton brought down the house with his outrageous take on the classic tune, “All of Me,” playing versions of the song in the style of any composer named by the audience (from Bach to Beyonce), and many more, sometimes playing the violin and the piano at the same time. “Sorcery,” and “Staggering,” were some of the comments from the audience.
Shenton, a British native, shared how much he and the others enjoy traveling through small towns and sharing their music. Their Montana tour began in Libby and has traversed the state for the past two weeks.
The uproarious standing ovation of Saturday’s show led Kelly and Shields to coyly quip, “All right, we just happen to know one more song.” They proceeded to break everyone’s hearts, closing with the Breakfast at Tiffany’s classic, “Moon River.”
One lady leaving the show said, “It opened up a treasure trove of memories.”
O Sole Trio sells CDs and other merchandise that helps fund their rural outreach at osoletrio.com.