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Review: Wayne Brady with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra

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4 stars

Hilbert Circle Theatre, Printing Partners Pops Series, Oct 15-17. Wayne Brady joined the ISO players at Hilbert Circle Theatre on the opening night of his run and owned the stage. Audience reaction to his endearing presence reminded this reviewer of a few seasons ago when Harry Belafonte gifted Indianapolis with his "Evening of Diversity" at Clowes Memorial Hall. Both are inspiring vocalists and generous spirited in sharing their personal lives through music. And both "use" their persona for the greater benefit—Belafonte on a global scale, Brady closer to home—take heed when he quips, "I learned to read, that got me on television." For a child who was not "endeared" by the neighbor kids, pushing past the barriers makes him the messenger and the medium for today's youth--Don't expect someone else to do it for you; find your inner glow and light the way for others. Brady's tribute to Sammy Davis Jr. and Sam Cooke brought added sensitivity to the nuances of the songs these two showcased to make a point at a time when our fracturing social structure was in need of balance. It's a daring journey between "Stop the World" and "What a Wonderful World," and "Chain Gang" to "A Change is Gonna Come;" from jazz ballads to soul, romantic longing to "Shake." Conductor Jack Everly and ISO players worked well with Brady's multi-layered program that included improvisation and comedy, and delivered a first act with outstanding instrumental solos including an ear-splitting "Begin the Beguine" originally arranged for trumpeter Doc Severinsen; horn, trombone, trumpet and violin for "I've Got You Under My Skin;" piano for "It Had Better Be Tonight;" drums and clarinet for [the stereotypical] "Indian Love Call."

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