The Jersey Shore, with the smell of caramel corn and pizza, might not be the first place you think of as a concert venue. On July 14h, 2019, Caissie Levy, currently seen reigning over Arendelle as Elsa in Frozen on Broadway, came to the Ocean City Music Pier for a concert. The concert also included the Ocean City Pops, backing up Caissie Levy and performing orchestral selections from various plays and musicals. As a fan of Caissie Levy for years, I knew I wanted to go to this concert the moment I saw she was coming to the Ocean City Music Pier. Caissie Levy is currently in her sixth Broadway production, her previous credits include, Fantine in the 2014 revival of Les Miserables, Molly in Ghost performing in both Broadway and London, Shelia Franklin in the Broadway revival of Hair, Elphaba in Wicked both in Los Angeles and Broadway, Penny in Hairspray on Broadway, National Tour, and the Toronto production of the musical. Caissie Levy was also seen as Maureen in the National Tour of Rent. Her Off-Broadway credits include Patti Davis and Julie Nixon in the world premiere of The First Daughter Suite, and Sara in Murder Ballad. Caissie has performed in concerts in New York City and across the country, and London. The Ocean City Pops is currently in its 91st season. The Ocean City Pops has a Sunday Night concert with Broadway performers in the summer. The performances include a full piece orchestra.
The concert opened with musical selections from Frozen performed by the Ocean City Pops. This was a perfect way to open the show as the songs drew the audience in and previewed the concert to come. The medley of songs was fantastic because it offered an overall view of songs from the movie and from the Broadway production. The talented musicians of the Ocean City Pops, conducted by its animated Conductor Adam Boyles, performed this arrangement with ease.
Welcomed to the stage and Ocean City by Boyles she opened with “Gimmie Gimmie” from Thoroughly Modern Millie. From her first notes of the tune, the audience can see the versatility of Caissie Levy as a performer. The number was also an introduction to Caissie Levy’s versatile voice and what a fantastic performer she was.
The next two selections were from Les Miserables. As an introduction, she mentioned growing up in Canada, Les Miserables was the show that made her want to be an actress for her career. Her version of “I Dreamed a Dream” was filled with emotion and passion making the audience feel the words she was singing; if this was any indication, Caissie Levy was a fantastic Fantine. Introducing “Bring Him Home,” she talked about her pregnancy and how this song resonated with her. A humorous note, she waved her flip-flop wearing foot in the air and described how her now three-year-old son dropped a truck on her right before the concert. Wearing Anna and Elsa band-aids and unable to wear her heels, the audience approved of her footwear selection on the OC Boardwalk. Needless to say, she delivered the traditionally male sung song wonderfully.
The Ocean City pops next performed Abendlied (Schumannn), a piece that I had never heard before. I enjoyed the work, as it was delivered with a full orchestral richness.
Returning to the stage after Abendlied, Caissie Levy called an audible and replaced “Maybe This Time” from the musical Cabaret with “Dangerous to Dream” from Frozen. This is Adult Elsa’s first number in the musical and offered a look into her. I have not seen the Broadway Frozen yet, but as she related “… in the movies you get a close-up, in a musical you get a song …”. Another highlight of the evening was the addition of Annbritt deChateau, Associate Conductor from Frozen on Broadway, on piano for the evening. This number was another one of my favorites of the night.
The last number before intermission was “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” from The Wizard of Oz. Before the number started, Caissie Levy dedicated this song to a family friend and anyone else in the audience who was struggling or going through a tough time right now.
A song from The King and I opened Act 2 of the concert with the orchestra performing “The March of the Siamese Children.” As a fan of Rodgers and Hammerstein, I was very excited to hear something from one of their musicals in the program. This was my favorite number performed by the Ocean City Pops alone, not because I am an R&H fan but it was a lovely orchestral arrangement.
Caissie Levy came back with a song she had always wanted to sing before an audience but had not gotten the chance yet. She and the Pops then performed “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” from Jesus Christ Superstar. As a fan of the musical, I was happy to see this on the setlist. Both she and the orchestra effortlessly did the number.
Next up was the Norah Jones version of the pop standard “The Nearness of You.” I did not know this song before I heard it performed, but I enjoyed the performance with just Caissie Levy and the piano.
Now channeling Carole King, and backed by a great big band arrangement by the OC Pops arranger. “Natural Woman,” demonstrated the versatility of Caissie Levy as an artist. Caissie Levy is a performer who has the range to cover anything from Broadway to Pop. While most performers might stick to one genre for a concert like this, she sang from a wide catalog which was better for the audience because we got songs we know, and were introduced to new songs and new genres.
The Ocean City Pops performed a song from a play called “Farandole” from L’arlesiene Suite No. 2, performed well behind the conducting of Adam Boyles.
Gershwin is always a classic for any performer, and Caissie Levy performed “Someone to Watch Over Me”. This arrangement was fantastic, and I loved how Caissie Levy performed this tune again her connecting with the audience and showing her range. Caissie Levy is a performer who put emotions and passion into every performance. This is fantastic for the audience because she develops an emotional connection with the audience over the course of the piece.
Every concert needs a fantastic final number, and this concert was no exception. Closing the show was Elsa’s signature song from Frozen “Let It Go.” For me this song was the exclamation point on a fine performance.
I hope you enjoyed this concert review. If you do not already know Caissie Levy, I hope this piece inspired you to look up videos of her, or even go see her live in Frozen.
Photo by Deen van Meer.