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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Philip Fortenberry

The McPherson Opera House
McPherson, KS
© Lydia Lowe  3/23/2012

Philip Fortenberry . . . If you go to Philip's current concert you will take a trip down the road of his life.  And what an interesting journey.  Philip grew up in a small town in the south, taking piano lessons from his aunt and playing for church services from the time he was seven years old.

His journey eventually took him to Broadway.  A small local theatre company decided to head to Broadway with a show they'd thought would be a hit.  "Clevage", a show which opened and closed on the same night.  As Philip put it, "the show was a bust".   He's played at the White House and all across the United States.  Philip now lives in Las Vegas.

Throughout the evening he kept us entertained with his piano and in between songs he talked about his work on Broadway, playing as a session musician, and playing as back up for voice lessons.  When Madonna was preparing for "Evita" she took voice lessons and Philip played back up for her.  He wasn't told ahead of time who he'd be playing for and he said it was disconcerting when he finally met her and knew who he'd be playing for.  But he got through it just fine.

We heard all manner of Broadway songs, classical songs, Floyd Cramer songs, and at the end of his set, Philip played a composition of his own creation which featured a wide variety of Rogers and Hammerstein music.  Philip has never gotten to play for any Rogers and Hammerstein Broadway musicals and has always wanted too. 

It was a delightful evening!  One of the most memorable points of the evening was when the audience exited the theatre, there was Philip to greet the audience as they were leaving.  It was a big surprise and everyone enjoyed it.  We all hope he'll return to play for us again, soon.

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