Highly Recommended ***** For most people, a visit to Ravinia is either the Pavilion seats or picnicking with friends and family on the vast lawn area in Highland Park. But, there is another part of this marvelous music park, the Bennett Gordon Hall, on the same property. This building, one of perfect acoustics and very comfortable seating has many one night only concerts. This is what makes my job difficult; telling you about a wonderful experience and knowing that it is only a one night show, which may never be duplicated again ( although, I think this one might see a return visit in the future, god-willing and the sun keeps shining on our star). The show is titled “From Broadway to Hollywood” and is told in words and piano by the amazing Richard Glazier, a Hoosier who knows the true history of musical theater, from the stage to the silver screen. 80 minutes of pure magic on this concert stage.
Glazier begins the evening with his true hero, George Gershwin. Many Chicagoans are very familiar with the sterling work done over the years with Hershey Felder taking on the role of Gershwin as he tells us the story through his music. Glazier uses video footage, including Gershwin’s home movies and the music of this brilliant composer to illustrate the power and magic of what was created back in those days. Glazier may be the highest of authorities when it comes to the Gershwin’s, yes Ira as well, who he spent time with and played for on his brother’s own Steinway.
During the concert, we also learn about other famous performers such as Oscar Levant ( I recall my own LP of Levant plays Gershwin, where I became in love with “American in Paris” and Concerto in F” as well as THE true memorial to our country in music- “Rhapsody in Blue”, the “voice of America”), Lerner and Lowe (“My Fair Lady” where he played and the audience joined in to sing their hearts out). While this is a show that was only here for one night, I feel the need to tell you about it so you will start to pay closer attention to the other shows that will take place in this venue, the Bennett Gordon Hall. Glazier has done several specials for PBS- “From Gershwin to Garland” (2010) and “From Ragtime to Reeltime” (2012), so it is fitting that this evening’s production will also appear. Now that we have something called “Viewer’s Choice”, maybe we can just ask for this on demand, and get it!.There were lots of stories, during the evening. Stories about Fred Astaire, Judy Garland, Oscar Levant, Gene Kelly and of course his own history and how he met with Ira Gershwin and became a part of the extended Gershwin family, even getting to do a concert with a nephew who owns the rights to all the works of this talented family. We heard about ” Swanee” and Al Jolson and how this song was created 8 years prior to Jolson’s “The Jazz Singer”. Glazier is a newcomer to the famous venue in Highland Park, but based on the response of the audience, I am sure he will be back, microphone in hand ( although they could have wired him so he wouldn’t have had to remember to pick it up each time) and maybe, just maybe, he will play the Pavilion, so larger audiences can get to hear his stories and his marvelous talent on the Steinway!
While I may have been among the youngest of audience members in this sold out house, everyone was into the concert from start to finish and as the final note of “Rhapsody in Blue” was played, each and every audience member was on their feet and bravo was heard throughout the hall. Glazier did an encore as a tribute to his father who has recently passed away, and once again, after the last note, these happy people were up again. To think- this show was a $10 tickets! There is not a better value anywhere! To find out more, visit the website and take a close look at the remainder of the 2015 schedule. I know, I am going to! www.ravinia.org call 847-266-5000