Hollywood Bowl Opening Night with Harry Connick, Jr., and Gloria Estefan
June 17, 2011
The Hollywood Bowl opened its 90th season Friday night with its Hall of Fame concert featuring the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, Youth Orchestra LA, Cirque du Soilel performers and sets by HOF inductees Harry Connick, Jr., and Gloria Estefan. That might sound like a lot of entertainment for one night, but the Bowl operates in such a smooth manner that the evening moved quickly without feeling rushed.
Led by Hollywood Bowl Orchestra Principal Guest Conductor Thomas Wilkins, the HBO kicked off the event with the national anthem before Dame Helen Mirren welcomed the audience to the new season.
Next was the first public preview of Cirque du Soleil's "IRIS: A Journey Through the World of Cinema," which begins full-length previews at the Kodak Theatre in July. It's hard to say that any one act can steal the show when said show includes Estefan and Connick, but this preview almost did. I don't know how they stack six people atop one another, but I do know this: When that final person climbed the human mountain and balanced himself so he could stand straight into the air, I gasped like a worried mom watching her son play Little League. Seriously folks, don't you know you could get hurt doing that? I mean, don't stop doing it, but you're taking my blood pressure on this wild ride where I can't stop watching while wishing the entire thing was over. And I mean that in the most positive way possible. Neither the Kodak nor the Cirque de Soleil people pay my bills, so you can rest assured that I am being 100 percent unbiased when I say "IRIS" is definitely worth checking out.
A lot happened, so I'll streamline some of this: The HBO played an Overture that proved why the Bowl has the best sound system of any outdoor venue on the planet.
Hilary Swank gave a speak about Connick before welcoming the singer/pianist on stage. A short video was shown on Connick before his performance that included footage of him as a young child kicking mucho ass. I didn't know this, but apparently the dude was born a big deal.
Connick then performed for about 40 minutes. His set was pretty much the hits and no one seemed to mind. His voice cracked a few times, but instead of acting like it didn't happen, he acknowledged his errors during a very funny improvised speech. By doing so, Connick seemed like a real dude, not some musician who's too good to talk to on a flight. If anything, the admission of his (very tiny) mistakes made his show that much better.
Intermission was next, which made me wonder why all shows don't have intermissions. I mean, who wouldn't want a half-hour break at Detroit? It would be a perfect time to go to the restroom, make a call, order a drink or talk to that guy/girl who you've been eyeing all night.
YOLA performed after the intermission and had I closed my eyes, I never would have guessed the musicians on stage were young enough to be my children. The group received a massive roar from the crowd and rightfully so.
Andy Garcia presented Estefan with her HOF award and even joined the Miami Sound Machine on percussion. Backed by the HBO, the singer and her group sounded like a party, and if ya ask me, that's always the best way to describe music. I knew Estefan's hits but not much else; luckily for me, the singer stuck to her well-known tunes for her 40-minute set.
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Estefan and Connick dueted on "Come Rain or Come Shine" before the MSM performed while the fireworks took over. And who doesn't love fireworks?
Personal Bias: There is no better venue for a great Southern California evening than the Hollywood Bowl.
Crowd: Ethnically mixed, mostly 40s through 60s, dressed semi-casually, friendly, picnic goers.
Random Notebook Dump: I polished off almost an entire bottle of chianti by myself.
"The Way You Look Tonight"
"It Had to Be You"
"Go to New Orleans"
"Bourbon Street Parade"
"Come By Me"
"And I Love Her"
"You Don't Know Me"
"Get On Your Feet"