Judy Norton - aka Mary Ellen Walton on the TV series - not only surprised some of the music-lovers attending her concert Friday, April 12, she also pleased the crowd by having a brief sing-along of music many remembered from their childhood.
After the concert some people expressed surprise that she had such a wide vocal range as she sang everything from opera to Broadway hits.
Norton’s concert of music from the 1930s to the present was provided by the Hannibal Concert Association at the Roland Fine Arts Center at Hannibal-LaGrange University.
During the second act, Norton joined the audience as she strolled along the aisles and invited everyone to join her in singing oldies including “A Bicycle Built For Two,” “Let Me Call You Sweetheart,” “Mairzy Doats” and “My Heart Belongs to Daddy.”
After meeting Dorothy Adams, Norton learned Adams was celebrating her 93rd birthday, so she led the audience in singing “Happy Birthday.”
Presenting songs from days gone by is not new to Norton. “I’ve always been drawn to the ‘40s, their fashions and music,” she said earlier in the concert. She sang a Judy Garland medley and later an Andrew Lloyd Webber medley.
Before singing “Smile” she explained Charlie Chaplin (the songwriter), was called a triple threat, as an actor, writer and producer - along with being a songwriter.
She also sang “The Music of the Night” from “The Phantom Of the Opera” and “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina” from the 1978 musical “Evita.”
Norton began the concert by singing “Put On a Happy Face” while showing videos of her early childhood. She explained her first acting job was a Hostess Twinkies commercial.
She continued as a child actress in various roles before becoming Mary Ellen Walton in 1971 at age 13. After this nine-year series, she continued with her acting career, while becoming a vocalist. And now she has added writer and director.
Before taking questions from the audience, Norton said the Waltons are her second family and “they were a great family to be part of.”
While singing “Our Love Is Here To Stay,” she gave the crowd an opportunity to watch several scenes from the series.
Asked if the Waltons show was hard to do, Norton said, “It was more fun than hard. We had many lines to learn. And we learned to be professional.” She added that children were limited to working eight hours a day, including three hours of schooling.
Questioned about where the series was filmed, she said Los Angeles, except the first show. This was actually a movie called “The Homecoming” and was on location in another state. Then it became a series.
Page 2 of 2 - Throughout her concert Norton credited her music director and pianist, Ed Martel, for his accompaniment, which included piano solos during songs including “I’ll Be Seeing You” and “Stuff Like That There.”
O.C. Latta, a Hannibal Concert Association board member, described Norton’s show as fabulous. “Her Judy Garland medley was awesome,” he said. “I think she’s wonderful.”
Martel also impressed Latta. “Ed Martel is as good a piano player as I’ve ever heard,” he said.
The Norton concert was part of the HCA’s 68th season. The final concert in the 2012-2013 season will be at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 11, by pianist Dino Kartsonakis. It also will be at the Roland Fine Arts Center at Hannibal-LaGrange University.