BY PATRICIA DUFF
May 15, 2013
Who can resist a love song from “South Pacific?”
Now’s your chance to hear two veteran singers perform some of the most popular love songs from Broadway next weekend on the island.
Kate Matteson and Karl Olsen will perform a concert titled “Some Enchanted Evening” at 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 24 and Saturday, May 25 at Trinity Lutheran Church. They will be accompanied by Eileen Soskin on piano, with direction by Ken Merrell.
The concert is a donation-funded benefit for the island’s Veterans Resource Center and ELCA World Hunger Appeal.
The singers will peform staged excerpts with some dialogue from six musicals, including “South Pacific,” “Funny Girl,” “Guys and Dolls,” “Camelot,” “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” and “Carousel.”
Matteson is a longtime singer who played the leading role of Magnolia in the Broadway tour of “Show Boat,” which won five Tony Awards. She also toured nationally as Hope in “Anything Goes.”
Olsen didn’t know that big musicals were in his repertoire until Matteson and Soskin convinced him to open himself up to Broadway.
“Eileen is full of energy and was eager to do another project together. She suggested including a male singer, and we asked Karl if he’d consider it,” Matteson said.
Olsen is known around town for singing with the Shifty Sailors, a local maritime singing group, and as a member of the folk group, The Brothers Four. His day job is as the minister of music at Trinity Lutheran Church in Freeland.
Soskin, who is well-known for her pre-concert lectures on classical music on and off-island, has performed extensively as a pianist and a mezzosoprano. Soskin knows a good singer when she hears one.
Matteson and Olsen had performed together previously as soloists for Saratoga Orchestra’s Messiah concerts and on other occasions. Olsen had once asked Matteson to sing a duet with him at Trinity Lutheran, and the piece had a very challenging soprano part.
“Okay Karl,” she told him, “you help me get over my intimidation of singing high, classical soprano, and I’ll encourage you to become less inhibited onstage. Do we have a deal?”
“Eileen and I were thrilled that he agreed to do this show,” Matteson said.
After a few rehearsals with Merrell’s first-rate direction, Olsen relaxed into the style and the team of artists had a show.
Merrell has worked in a wide variety of performance genres from musical theater to stand-up comedy and dinner theater. He’s also a local musician who plays guitar and sings for the Cranberry Bog Bluegrass Band. Merrell managed to pull Olsen out of his shell for this show.
“I think the audience will see sides of Karl that they’ve never seen before,” Matteson said.
It’s a bittersweet performance for Matteson, as she will be moving off the island this summer and this may be her last performance on Whidbey.
“I’m so grateful to be working with this talented and enthusiastic team, and I love that it’s a benefit for two important organizations,” she said.
Admission is free, and donations are encouraged. Come early for the best seating. Trinity Lutheran Church is at 18341 Hwy 525 in Freeland.