The Waltham-based company, Riverview Chamber Players, performed for the Wang Theatre’s 90th Anniversary Gala Saturday, December 12, 2015. Riverview Chamber Players serenaded almost four hundred guests and staff —including Mrs. An Wang, now 93 years old—throughout the five-hour event, playing from a custom-designed stage perched at the front of the theatre’s mezzanine. The unusual aerial setting was arranged by Citi Performing Arts Center CEO, Josiah Spaulding, who wanted to switch the perspective of performer and audience for this very special gala.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Wang Theatre, originally known as the Metropolitan, has housed the performing arts since first opening in 1925. Over the decades, the theatre developed from a movie “cathedral” and home to vaudeville musicals and big bands to today’s role as an impressive venue for world-class theatre, music, Broadway, and dance. Through the generosity of Dr. An and Lorraine Wang, the aging theatre was restored to its former glory in 1983. Today the Wang Theatre holds 3,500 audience members and boasts one of the five largest stages in the country.
For the Gala Riverview Chamber Players’ musicians—a string quartet and brass quintet—performed a range of music from string quartets by Mozart and Mendelssohn and brass quintets by Bach and Brahms to “Phantom of the Opera” and “Addams Family” themes, in arrangements by trombonist Wesley Hopper of Lowell, Massachusetts.
Memories of past shows and productions were brought to the forefront as the players performed music from “Pink Panther,” “An American in Paris,” “White Christmas,” and Aerosmith’s “Dream On,” from MTV’s 5th Anniversary Celebration.
Riverview and its players are no strangers to the Wang stage. Music Director and violist Rebecca Strauss has performed there with the Boston Ballet Orchestra, the musical “Show Boat,” Josh Groban, Jackie Evancho, and Earth, Wind and Fire.
Don Rankin, who played tuba at this past weekend’s gala, has performed more than 2,000 performances at the Wang. In addition to more than twenty years with the Boston Ballet Orchestra, he has played behind Aerosmith, Earth Wind & Fire, Pavarotti, the American Ballet Theatre, the Bolshoi Ballet, the Kirov Ballet, the Moisiyev Dance Company, the Houston Grand Opera, Jackie Evancho, musicals like “Annie,” “Chicago,” “State Fair,” and “The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” as well as with “Video Games Live.”