Last night of the Snape Proms

Snape Proms 2007, John Wilson Orchestra and Big Band with Kim Criswell, Friday 31 August

Snape Proms 2007, John Wilson Orchestra and Big Band with Kim Criswell, Friday 31 August

THE last night at this year's Snape Proms will be long remembered by the sell out audience.

It was popular music at its best with conductor and film buff John Wilson, presenting a programme that re-created the glamourous ladies of the silver screen and the golden years of the big MGM musicals.

It called for an extra special voice and that materialised in the shape of Kim Criswell from Tennessee, already well known on the world's best stages but a new name to this particular reviewer…in the words of one of Judy Garland's best remembered films, a star is born.

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Fittingly she opened with a series of Judy Garland songs that included the Trolley Song and Over The Rainbow, but Ms Criswell went on to include the pure voice of Jane Powell in the wistful Too Late Now that featured in the film Royal Wedding. She also featured a couple of actresses who were not truly singers and so Audrey Hepburn's How Long Has This Been Going On from Funny Face and the evergreen Diamonds Are a Girls Best Friend that Marilyn Monroe made her own in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

Conductor John Wilson had assembled a superb orchestra along with a big band and he told the audience how they were the pick of the musicians he had worked with over the past 15 years. Mr Wilson has worked in such illustrious company as The Halle, the City of Birmingham Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic and the BBC Concert Orchestra, to name but a few. He's also a great advocate of other genres of music and he's world renowned for his arrangements of light music, jazz and music from the theatre and screen.

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And so Ms Criswell had the wonderful backing of some superb arrangements that included sweeping strings, soaring trumpets and a cracking rhythm section that included three double bass, two for the orchestra and another for the big band.

They were all heard to extremely good effect when they played an overture that was a medley of many popular show tunes and later an exquisite arrangement of Dancing In the Dark that featured in the film Bandwagon.

Meanwhile, Ms Criswell took the opportunity to change outfits - there were at least six including one bright green number and with her auburn hair let loose, she might also have been imitating another lady of the screen who did not, I believe, sing in any of her films. . .the lady in question, Maureen O'Hara!

Naturally, there had to be space for three ladies who did sing, Doris Day, Julie Andrew and Barbra Streisand.

And so we had an evocative version of Secret Love and Ten Cents a Dance, followed by the unforgettable, I Have Confidence from The Sound of Music and the wistful Feed the Birds, from Mary Poppins.

Then came cracking version of Streisand's Don't Rain on My Parade and a couple of numbers from Yentl.

Kim Criswell would have little trouble in getting a job as a musical impressionist, and she has the art of impressionism down to a fine art - those nasal tones of Streisand could not have been bettered, but, at the same time, there's little doubt that she is Kim Criswell as herself.

A wonderful performance and she just had time to introduce her version of Judy Garland's daughter, Liza Minelli, and the show-stopper Maybe This Time.

A wonderful end to another season at Snape Proms that left many in the audience wondering there's the possibility of Maybe Next Time for another evening in the company of Kim Criswell, John Wilson and illustrious company.

Alan Crumpton

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