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A concert studded with standing ovations

07:07 PM July 03, 2011

It should surprise no one that for this all-hits collection, unlikely but brilliant duets were imagined and flawlessly executed: Seal and Donna Summer, Natalie Cole and Ruben Studdard, Lara Fabian and Michael Bolton, Ne-Yo and Charice.

These artists, plus a few more names instantly recognizable to three generations of pop music lovers, came together for the spectacular concert “Hitman Returns” in Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas. “Hitman” is, of course, the industry label affectionately attached to David Foster—singer, composer, arranger, producer, talent coach, and all other things that, we imagine, amount to being a respected colleague.

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Or how else to haul onto the same stage such a diverse cast of talents that also include Kenny Loggins, Chaka Khan, All For One, The Canadian Tenors, Earth Wind & Fire, Martina McBride, little Jackie Evancho, Kathryn Joosten and Mark Masri?

Soul, R&B, Broadway, classical, disco, country—the once-in a-lifetime cast covers all these forms, plus the undying “When I Fall in Love.” Standard, yes. Foster tells the story of each song—except for one or two, he was involved in either the creation or production. His giddiness is infectious. Every number is punctuated with a standing ovation.

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The concert is now on CD and DVD, a must-have package from Warner. Run to the record store.

Only 11 spots made it to the CD, among them Studdard’s surprise charmer “Home,” Evancho’s stunning “Pie Jesu” and Gary Wright’s deliciously nostalgic “Dream Weaver.” But every gem of a production number is on the precious DVD (indulge us, we’ve watched it three times and we’re still not lending our copy to anyone).

Surrender to Loggins’ charm again. Marvel at Khan’s wild abandon. Sigh with pride as the international audience rises to its feet to applaud Charice. And feel the urge to hug Hitman.

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