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Night at Hanover Theatre proves `Idol' worship justified.

Byline: Nancy Sheehan

COLUMN: Music Review

If you like "American Idol" on TV, then you almost certainly would have liked the Idols alumni show at the Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts Wednesday night. Even if you don't watch the show and can't tell this season's frontrunner, Adam Lambert from, well, Adam, you still probably would have liked it.

The song list and vocal work were strong enough to engage even the uninitiated, which Wednesday night were mainly parents accompanying passels of school-age children who absolutely delighted in seeing beloved tele-types come to life.

Sitting just in front of us was a group of little girls who appeared to be in the age 5 to 8 range. Let's see, that would have made them 3 to 6 when headliner Melinda Doolittle was competing on the smash Fox TV show in 2007. "Thomas the Tank Engine" is probably the only recent Hanover show to draw a younger crowd.

No matter, the little ones and their teenage sibs cheered Doolittle's every song and readily joined in the chorus of shouted "I love yous" that rang out during almost every lull, however momentary.

The verbal valentines also were showered on the three former Idols who shared the stage with her: Chikezie Eze of Season 7 (which was last year), and Gina Glocksen and Phil Stacey, both of whom were finalists with Doolittle in Season 6.

Yes, the show started off a little slowly with a so-so Motown medley. And, yes, it would have been energized by the addition of a Season 7 finalist who placed higher than the 10th finishing Chikezie: say, dreadlocked heartthrob Jason Castro. That said, once the show got rolling, the ably rendered music turned what could have been a slightly painful revue of also-rans into a memorable night. They were Idols we came to know well but something immediately seemed different. They weren't nervous like they had been in the heat of competition with 30 million viewers watching them. They actually were relaxed enough to have a little fun at the Hanover, with 1,100 or so on hand. This also helped raise the bar on the singing and they all would have placed higher had they sung on the show like they did Wednesday night.

Our star proved she deserved top billing. Every time Mindy Doo opened her mouth we did too, in slack-jawed admiration of her sheer vocal power. Her delivery on "It's Your Love," a single from her new CD "Coming Back to You," couldn't be topped by any gospel-inspired R&B diva, no matter how venerated. Her range is immense, her tone highly emotive. She is a former backup singer who has come completely into her own. But we knew that about her.

There were those who quibbled when Doolittle ended up in third place behind beatboxer Blake Lewis and Jordin Sparks, the ultimate winner. So it was not such a surprise that she was great. But that Glocksen could ably hold her own in duets with Doolittle, as well as singing showstopper solos? Who knew about that? Glocksen, the resident rocker of Season 6, has put that typecasting behind her. Since finishing ninth on the show, she has grown vocally beyond recognition and reached new heights last night. From her opening song, a ballad version of "I Want to Hold Your Hand," it was apparent there was a new Gina in town. But her version of Sara Bareilles' "Gravity," at once gripping and melliferous, was a totally unexpected delight. Glocksen credited Doolittle's influence with making the difference (the two also toured together on the Idols finalists' tour in 2007) before joining her for a duet from the musical "Wicked," titled "Good." Ms. G and Mindy made for an exceptionally tuneful pairing on the song.

Country crooner Stacey also out-sang his Idol level, with the help of heavy reverb amplification. He did a range of songs, including "Tobacco Road" and the Police's "Every Breath You Take," and - which he had done on the show - his single "If You Didn't Love Me."

No worries, mate. Here in Worcester the audience loved every minute of it. Didn't they keep telling you so?

ART: PHOTOS

PHOTOG: T&G Staff/JIM COLLINS

CUTLINE: From left, "American Idol" stars Melinda Doolittle, Phil Stacey, Chickezie Eze and Gina Glaukson perform Wednesday at the Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts.
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Title Annotation:ENTERTAINMENT
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Apr 17, 2009
Words:728
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