By Dale King
Festival of the Arts Boca wrapped up its 11th annual celebration of artistic, cultural and musical endeavors Sunday with a concert by South American jazz performers Sérgio Mendes and Brazil 2017, completing the 10-day installment of lectures, song, instrumentalists, one film and an opera.
The 76-year-old Brazilian keyboardist whose high-amped, bossa nova-heavy style mixed liberally with jazz and funk pleased a nearly sold-out house at the Mizner Park Amphitheater. By show’s end, folks were on their feet, dancing, singing, waving cellphones and yelling for more.
They got it. At least two encores. At that point, few people were counting.
“Dance if you want,” urged the leader of the half-dozen piece band that cranked up the sound with lots of conga drums and percussion, a hot saxophone, bass guitar and lots of other pounding and brassy instruments. Two female singers with softly sensuous voices – the hallmark of the Mendes group — were front and center: Sergio’s wife and performer with the band since the 1970s, Gracinha Leporace, and Katie Hampton.
The women came through with full-on breathy renditions of Sérgio Mendes hits: “Never Gonna Let You Go,” “Going Out of My Head,” “The Look of Love” and a well-remembered cover of the Beatles’ “Fool on the hill.”
Sérgio and Co. slammed it into overdrive for the finale, a hot and saucy version of the band leader’s breakout hit, “Mas Que Nada.” That, apparently, was to be the show’s ending, but the audience’s screams for more kept the band on stage for at least a couple more rounds.
The group kept the music flowing through the night with such numbers as “Magalenha,” “Pretty World,” “One Note Samba and “Pais Tropical.”
A night with the Pink Panther
Fans of film, fun and comic genius flocked to the amphitheater Saturday night for a showing of the 1963 MGM film, The Pink Panther, the entrée of comedian extraordinaire Peter Sellers into the world of inept Inspector Clouseau. It was a delight that drew much laughter and applause.
The musical track had been stripped off, and the Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra from the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami provided the soundtrack. Conductor Constantine Kitsopoulos led the group.
The audience greeted the film with enthusiasm. The first in a series of 11 films and a variety of animated specials featuring the Pink Panther character, the motion picture was conceived as a sophisticated comedy about a charming, urbane jewel thief, Sir Charles Lytton (David Niven). As director and co-author Blake Edwards shot the film, he saw that Peter Sellers, originally considered a supporting actor added as comic relief, was stealing the scenes. This resulted in Sellers taking the top spot in subsequent Pink Panther productions.
The festival audience got a touch of Mancini magic when Henry’s daughter, Monica, made two appearances. She sang “Meglio Stasera (It Had Better Be Tonight)” – Jeffries’ vocal during a party scene in the movie. She returned to sing one of her father’s most famous compositions, “Moon River,” with lyrics by Johnny Mercer. It won an Academy Award for Best Original Song in the 1961 film, Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
To paraphrase T.S. Eliot, “This is the way the festival ends, not with a bang, but a Twitter.” As Sunday’s finale closed, cellphone holders around the town got a message: “That’s a wrap. Thank you all for making our 11th annual Festival of the Arts Boca such a success.”