by Ryan Leeds
Tony nominated actress Montego Glover has gone from playing a promising starlet in Memphis to bringing down the house as a bridesmaid in It Shoulda Been You. Currently, she is “dreaming a dream” as Fantine in the Broadway revival of Les Misérables.
On Friday evening November 13, she’ll take a break from the slums of Paris and trade it for the coveted prestige of Carnegie Hall. She’ll be joined by Capathia Jenkins, Sy Smith, and the New York Pops for a concert titled “Sophisticated Ladies.” The night will feature songs of Sarah Vaughan, Dinah Washington, Billie Holiday, and Ella Fitzgerald. In a recent phone interview, Glover wouldn’t reveal the specific songs she’ll be performing, citing the broad range of choices, but she promises that the concert will be “spectacular.”
It won’t be the first time this Southern belle, who was born in Georgia and raised in Tennessee, will be working with Pops orchestra or playing Carnegie Hall. “I’ve been privileged to work with maestro Steven Reineke both at Carnegie and around the country,” she said. “Then, I got an invitation to stop by for ‘Sophisticated Ladies.’ I mean, who says no to that?!,” she joked.
Glover is performing a delicate balancing act, however. With the demands of an eight-show week at Les Misérables and rehearsing for the November 13 engagement, she’s keeping herself in top form with good vocal health and exercise, including kettle bell kickboxing and yoga. She doesn’t wish to dilute the meaning of the evening, though. “I really want to stay focused on the joy of it, “she said. “These ladies are icons in music and jazz and we’re all making sure that we create something that pays homage to them, fits our style, and celebrates everyone’s collective talent.”
With several Broadway credits to her name, Glover is by no means a newbie to singing and is inspired by a broad range of musical tastes and talents. “I’ve been singing as long as I can remember having breath, thought, and memory,” she said. Her iTunes collection bounces between Rascal Flatts, Nina Simone, Bob Dylan, Frank Ocean, Indie Arie, Bruce Springsteen, and others. “I’m very privileged that so many genres are part of my musical collective,” she noted. “I don’t find those forms foreign or unnerving or odd. They all feel like part of my home.”
The African-American powerhouse is proud to have found a frequent professional home on the Broadway stage and spoke about the current state of Broadway, with regards to casting and the recent influx of diverse productions like Fun Home, The Gin Game, Hamilton, Spring Awakening, and even the musical in which she currently stars.
“Audiences are interested in seeing their world reflected onstage,” she said. “In recent years we’ve gotten closer and closer to a clearer reflection of what our world really looks like. Nothing but positive feedback and energy can come from that. We’re in a marvelous ascension and taking off to a whole new level that is bright, shining, and truer with clearer storytelling. I think we’re all on the right track. By taking a risk and including people who are diverse, that is actually the thing that brings more people to the art. That is really what we want; to reflect the world around and make sure as many people as possible can participate in that reflection.”
The New York Pops at Carnegie Hall
881 7th Avenue, NYC
November 13, 2015
249 West 45th Street
Ryan Leeds is a freelance theater journalist who lives in Manhattan. He is the Chief Theater Critic for Manhattan Digest and a frequent contributor to Dramatics Magazine. Follow him on Twitter @Ry_Runner or on Facebook.