Andy Williams Delights in Carousel Appearance
The News, Framingham – Natick
By Virginia Lucier
July 23, 1968
FRAMINGHAM – It was easy listening in high style all the way last evening as an enthralled capacity audience turned out for the long-awaited Andy Williams Show at Frank Connelly’s Carousel Theater.
They didn’t actually ask, but there was no doubt about it, the popular television and Columbia recording artist did sock it to them in his casual, relaxed and always smooth manner which brought him applause that obviously moved him.
Backed by a 32-piece orchestra, several members of whom were forced to take their positions outside the regular pit, the slightly built entertainer favored in his crooning style with such familiar tunes as Born Free, Dear Heart, Days of Wine and Roses and Moon River, all included in his collection of nine Gold Records for album sales totaling more than $1,000,000.
Watching the smiling performer at his best, it was inevitable that minds of the many should turn back to the recent funeral of Senator Robert Kennedy when Williams stirred the pulse of the nation with his unforgettable singing of the Battle Hymn of the Republic.
As he moved around the circular stage, Williams informed the audience that this was his first appearance in a theater in the round, and that he was pleased at having the opportunity to appear before a live audience. “I don’t get a chance to get out like this very often because we have been doing so much television. It is nice to be introduced by a human being instead of the NBC peacock and what I especially like about going on tours is that I can sing as many songs as I like without being interrupted by a commercial every six minutes.”
An important segment of this show was the appearance of brilliant pianist Peter Nero, whose gifted fingers literally glided over the keys with his unforgettable stylings. Joined by a rhythm section which included a bass player Gene Turico, and Joel Casettes on drums, Nero held his audience entranced with his artistry as he played Show Me, Sounds of Silence written by Simon and Garfunkel and heard throughout the motion picture The Graduate. Nero’s unique arrangement of George Gershwin’s I’ve Got Rhythm was interwoven with variations from the works of classical composers.
He followed with the haunting Shadow of Your Smile, and Falling in Love With Love and What is This Thing Called Love?, special arrangements which soloed both members of the his rhythm section.
When Williams returned on stage, having changed from a dark suit and light blue shirt to an all white suit, the two joked about the piano briefly after which Nero played and Williams sang Maria from Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story. The memorable music from Sound of Music played by Nero closed the first half of the program on a high note.
A typical scene borrowed from television came when Williams in a blue sweater with white trousers with a blue and red stripe down the side, later returned and was joined by the young and talented Osmond Brothers – Alan 18, Wayne 16, Merrill 15, Jay 13, and Donny 10, who were attractively garbed in white Nehur suits.
A versatile group of boys, who shared the poise and state presence of their mentor, the Osmond Brothers accompanied themselves on guitars, and electric organ and drums as they sang their newest recording Mary Elizabeth and the rock number I’ve Got Lovin’ On My Mind. Applause interspersed with whistles and cheers resulted as they presented the old standard Fascinating Rhythm. A bit of dancing was also injected.
Before joining the boys in singing Scarborough Fair, another Simon and Garfunkel number from The Graduate, Williams said that performing with these young boys reminded him of the days when he sang with his brothers. It was a nostalgic moment for many as they later joined in the beautiful Peg of My Heart.
Advance publicity indicated there was to be a “surprise” guest star in the show and indeed there was. Four year old Jimmy Osmond, a miniature carbon copy of his big brothers came from out of the audience and with the poise of an old pro brought the house down with his singing of I Dig Rock and Roll Music and I Got A Woman.
There were several other big hits which were familiar to Williams’ fans and they responded enthusiastically as he rendered, one of this most outstanding, the beautiful Hawaiian Love Song. Also included were Up, Up And Away, Danny Boy, his wife, Claudine Longet’s favorite Somewhere from West Side Story. And the corn-fed sounding In The Summertime which the responding hand-clapping and applause promoted several encores.