Bill Doherty is not only a musical maestro, he’s a magician.
Doherty amassed a bevy of talented performers – including Broadway headliner Grant Norman – who on Tuesday nearly turned Savannah Center into 42nd Street. It was called “The Great American Broadway Review.”
Norman played the Phantom on the Great White Way and he showed why with a heart-wrenching rendition of “Music of the Night” that earned a loud and long standing ovation.
Norman not only hit all the right notes, but his arm movements and facial expressions unmasked the Phantom’s deep emotional scars.
“I was lucky enough to play the Phantom (“Phantom of the Opera”) on Broadway and in London,” Norman said before singing the song. “Now, I’m going to put on my Phantom shoes here in The Villages.”
Norman was equally powerful on another show-stopping standard, “Bring Him Home,” from “Les Miserables.”
After the show, Norman paid tribute to the talent in The Villages and Maestro Doherty, who played piano and put the show together.
“You saw today the level of talent here and it is amazing,” Norman said. “Bill Doherty has a lot to do with it. He’s like a springboard that makes things happen and gives people the opportunity to learn and perform.
“Bill puts shows together. Then he gets the performers and musicians to make it work. More than that, it’s Bill’s spirit that is so special. He’s the kind of guy who makes a difference.”
An example is Ashley Thunder Lowe, who works with Doherty. She is part of the Central Florida Lyric Opera company, headed by Doherty.
Lowe is a budding star and gave another example of her remarkable soprano voice.
She displayed a kind of serene intensity on George Gershwin’s “Summertime.” The song started at a languid pace but Lowe slowly kept building to a powerful climax.
She was in dynamic and soulful form on “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man,” from “Showboat. Lowe teamed with Jerod Eggleston for another “Phantom” number “All I Ask Of You.” Eggleston showed his versatility and leading man style on “If Ever I Would Leave You,” from “Camelot.”
Kathleen Kane, wearing a snow-white full length gown, sounded defiantly strong “Maybe This Time,” from “Cabaret. Kane brought more emotion to “Memory” from “Cats.”
Victoria Sexton has a charming, perky stage presence and engaging smile. Sexton was ideal for giving social advice on “Popular” from “Wicked.” She also had some bouncy fun with “Momma Mia.”
Villager Mark Steven Schmidt always impresses and the tenor brought a powerful longing to “Maria,” from “West Side Story.”
Heather Ard is a versatile singer and had some fun, teaming with the rest of the cast on “Lonely Goatherd” from “Sound of Music.” Ard turned sassy on “All That Jazz” and really soared on “Defying Gravity” from “Wicked.”
Scotty Tomas fit the Broadway groove on “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” from “The Lion King.” He also shined while teaming with Sexton on a rousing “Suddenly Seymour” from “Little Shop of Horrors.”
Angie Rose nailed “I Dreamed A Dream” from “Les Miserables” and Tony Brown brought a warm, romantic feeling to “On The Street Where You Live” from “My Fair Lady.”
Doherty played piano and was joined on stage with John Gaffney on bass and Marty Morell on drums.
The entire cast combined for a rousing closing on “The Impossible Dream” from “Man of La Mancha.” After a standing ovation, they came back for an encore with “Seasons of Love” from “Rent.”