Vocalist Sal Viviano says nothing beats singing some of Broadways finest work with a full orchestra behind you.
A theater veteran, Viviano has spent the last 15 years performing in an array of Broadway Pops concerts for 150 orchestras nationwide and abroad. As he joins the Fort Wayne Philharmonic on Saturday for the Behind the Mask Pops concert, theres only word he uses to describe the live music experience: Its just thrilling.
As a Broadway actor, youre used to doing what you prepared in a live setting with a small orchestra, which is now probably 20 pieces, Viviano says by phone from New York City, where he currently resides. To be with a 60-piece orchestra, you have this great round sound. Its really the last handmade artform.
The Philharmonics Behind the Mask will bring Broadways greatest hits from Les Miserables, Chicago, A Chorus Line and Wicked to the Embassy Theatre stage. Viviano will perform with vocalist Elizabeth Stanley, an Indiana University graduate who has performed in Broadways Million Dollar Quartet, Cry-Baby and the Tony Award-winning revival of Company.
Im a big fan of hers, he says. She is so talented. Fort Wayne will be very happy.
The program will also be dedicated to the works of composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, the creative mind behind Broadways Phantom of the Opera and Cats.
Viviano says he actually met Webber preparing for his lead role as Joseph in the 1989 production of Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia.
To know this songwriter as a working colleague is a privilege. I love to sing his things, and his music leaves great room for interpretation, he says. A guy with that much success, doesnt really have to work, but he continues to work on his craft. Hes a very bright guy who loves the theater and loves to write for the theater. That kind of longevity has only happened for a handful of songwriters.
Viviano says the evening will be filled with songs that take on an entirely new life on stage than what is heard through recordings.
(Live music) is an endangered species. Nowadays, when we go to concerts, so much of what we hear is recorded. There are a few live musicians onstage, but a good deal of the backup tracks are recorded, and now even some of the lead tracks are recorded, he says. We have the opportunity to sing a load of great songs from Broadway and remind them why these songs are so great. Show them why they are in fact some the modern standards of the Broadway repertoire.
For Viviano, it was the live aspect of performing that first drew him into the theater. A Detroit native, Viviano began his career opening for comedy acts and working as an actor in Chicago while completing his education at Eastern Illinois University. Moving east, Viviano made his Broadway debut in the 1984 production of The Three Musketeers.
He has had roles in Broadway shows like Romance/Romance, City of Angels and The Full Monty; he has also performed in Off-Broadway shows, The Big Time, Golf the Musical and Hamlet.
Viviano says its always important to treat every performance like it is opening night.
When you perform, you dont want the audience to feel like youve done it seven times already this week. If it begins to feel like that, its time to leave the job, he says. As a generation of theater performers and musicians, were here to remind every generation of our heritage. It requires them to see it live because there is a whole other side to it. Theres drama, theres an opinion, theres a story that has to be told.