Sunday, April 14, 2013 | 11:33 p.m.
It was apropos that 13-year-old “America’s Got Talent” star Jackie Evancho (she celebrated her birthday last Tuesday) would end her 90-minute performance Saturday night with “The Music of the Night” from Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber’s beloved “The Phantom of the Opera.”
There were no pyrotechnics, LED screens, sexy dancers and complicated choreography at Reynolds Hall in The Smith Center for the Performance Arts in Downtown Las Vegas. It was all about the music for the classical crossover singer, who was onstage with a splendid orchestra and exemplary trumpeter Gabriel Johnson.
This was the third time I’ve seen Evancho, the runner-up in Season 5 of “America’s Got Talent” to Las Vegas resident Michael Grimm, live, the first in “David Foster and Friends” at Mandalay Bay Events Center in October 2010 and then March 22 at Cirque du Soleil’s fundraiser “One Night for One Drop” at Bellagio.
It is astounding how her voice has matured in three years, and Evancho was mesmerizing Saturday night in her mastery of classical, pop and opera. She started with the charming “Pure Imagination” from “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” and ended, not counting the encore, with “Reflection” from “Mulan.” (Evancho’s newest album is “Songs From the Silver Screen.”)
Her setlist also included “The Impossible Dream” from “Man of La Mancha”; “The Summer Knows” from “Summer of ’42” in a duet with Johnson; “My Heart Will Go On” from “Titanic” (Evancho was born three years after James Cameron’s Oscar-winning film was released!); and The Lord’s Prayer (I’ve never heard it sung before).
Also, “When You Wish Upon a Star” from “Pinocchio” and “When I Fall In Love” from “Sleepless in Seattle.” The orchestra and Johnson had standout standalone performances while Evancho was offstage, among them “Georgia on My Mind” and “What A Wonderful World.
Evancho, all of 13, took on songs made famous by the likes of Celine Dion, Barbra Streisand and Christina Aguilera, and she held her own. Evancho is a teenager now, and she refreshingly behaved like one onstage -- well, a composed 13-year-old with a voice beyond her adolescent years.
To the delight and endearment of the audience, she giggled throughout the evening and repeatedly brushed her shoulder-length curls from her face. When an Elvis tribute artist brought a cake onstage to have the crowd sing “Happy Birthday” before her encore -- or, as she called it, her “thank you” song -- she said afterward, “I was not expecting that. That was actually awesome!”
And so was Evancho, who had only one costume change, starting out the night in a sparkling, sleeveless blue-and-silver gown and then changing into a sparkling fuchsia gown that look as if it was illuminated. Evancho performed memorable music of the night at The Smith Center, and the audience returned the favor with standing ovation after standing ovation.
Thanks to contributing photographer Tom Donoghue for his photo gallery.
Don Chareunsy is editor of Vegas DeLuxe and senior editor for arts and entertainment of the Las Vegas Sun.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
Follow VDLX Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.
Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.
Follow Vegas DeLuxe on Twitter at Twitter.com/vegasdeluxe.