Filene Young Artists

Guys beware! When girls want to have fun, it could mean a lot of things. At the Barns at Wolf Trap on Friday, much of it had to do with something called love.

The Wolf Trap Opera Company presented five impressive Filene Young Artists in a "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" recital. With artistic director and arranger Steven Blier at the piano, they offered selections from musicals and songs based on poems.

Soprano Alyson Cambridge proved the evening's most versatile singer. Her clear tone emerged effortlessly; her expression in both silly and serious songs unfolded naturally without sacrificing musicality. Coquettish in Jule Styne's "I Said No," she sang Olaf Bienert's "Augen in der Gross-Stadt" with a wistful conviction.

Not everyone can sing torch songs, but soprano Laquita Mitchell sure can. Her voice fit Sonny Burke's "Black Coffee" like a glove and it blossomed with heartfelt passion in Harold Arlen's "I Never Has Seen Snow."

With a clarion soprano, Kristin Reiersen excelled at bubbly roles. Adorable as a brainy, jealous ex in David Shire's "Crossword Puzzle," she pulled a Jekyll and Hyde in Marc Blitzstein's "Modest Maid."

In Maceo Pinkard's "Sugar," mezzo-soprano Angela Niederloh sang with head-over-heels affection. Her duet with baritone Markus Beam in Stephen Sondheim's "Barcelona" was delightful. Whether playing the fool or the hero, Beam had an energetic stage presence. He sang an especially haunting "Pretty Women," from Sondheim's "Sweeney Todd."

Richard Rodgers's "To Keep My Love Alive" and Cole Porter's "Give Him the Ooh-la-la" inspired the best ensemble performances.

-- Grace Jean

The Legwarmers

The Legwarmers have created quite a scene with their monthly shows at the State Theatre. If Friday's sold-out performance was any indication, the 'Warmers are onto something big as their popularity increases. It's just too bad they can't do anything more with it.

The Legwarmers are an '80s tribute band, whose every song is a hit that brings the house down with spontaneous, exuberant "I know this song!" singalongs. That makes it hard to record an album. The only merchandise is a T-shirt, which seems okay with the band and the fans: Everyone involved knows this is a goof, a guilty pleasure, and everyone is respectful, if not reverential, of the original material.

Take for example Rick Springfield's "Jessie's Girl" from 1981. If it comes on the car radio you listen to the first verse and then change it to . . . well, okay, let's get to the loud part and sing with it. In concert, you just give yourself up to the band at the beginning and start screaming the lyrics at the players as they sing back to you.

That's the thing: You're convinced you can sing these songs as well as the band, because you know all the lyrics by heart. And so you sing with the band, and there's sort of a second-generation karaoke effect going on that everyone is on board with.

This went on for the entire two sets at the State. "Safety Dance." "We Got the Beat." "Eye of the Tiger," for gosh sakes. "Dancing in the Dark." "Rock 'n' Roll High School." "I Love Rock and Roll." "Kids in America," which followed an eruption of repeated calls for "America!" from the audience.

It's a VH-1 extravaganza, with a crowd of thirty-somethings fist-pumping to the familiar. And the five-piece band and two-piece horn section faithfully played the songs -- and playfully, too.

-- Buzz McClain

Angela Niederloh, Laquita Mitchell, Alyson Cambridge and Kristin Reiersen sing in the Wolf Trap Opera Company's "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" recital.