Let the season begin: Vanessa Williams sparkles at MPAC opener

Vanessa Williams opens the 2018-19 season at the Mayo Performing Arts Center. Photo by Kevin Coughlin, Sept 14, 2018
Vanessa Williams opens the 2018-19 season at the Mayo Performing Arts Center. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
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With sass and spirit and style, Vanessa Williams got the 2018-19 season off to a high-flying start at Morristown’s Mayo Performing Arts Center on Friday.

Her 90-minute show included pop favorites such as The Right Stuff, Colors of the Wind, The Comfort Zone and Save the Best for Last, plus a lovely, lilting interpretation of Bill from Showboat and a luscious tribute to Lena Horne, Stormy Weather.

That’s a topic Williams knows something about. She joked about three marriages and alluded to her 1983 triumph as the first black Miss America, and the ensuing controversy when “everything went to hell.”

Slideshow photos by Kevin Coughlin. Hover / click on images for captions:

Vanessa Williams stars at MPAC season opener, Sept. 14, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Doc Powell takes solo for Vanessa Williams at MPAC season opener, Sept. 14, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Vanessa Williams opens the 2018-19 season at the Mayo Performing Arts Center. Photo by Kevin Coughlin, Sept 14, 2018
Leo Colon introduces Vanessa Williams at MPAC season opener, Sept. 14, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Vanessa Williams at MPAC, Sept. 14, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Carmen Ruby Floyd and Raquel Caldwell harmonize for Vanessa Williams at MPAC season opener, Sept. 14, 2018. Floyd wowed the crowd with her solo of Duke Ellington's 'Creole Love Call.' Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Vanessa Williams leads MPAC youth choir at MPAC season opener, Sept. 14, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Vanessa Williams shares anecdote at MPAC season opener, Sept. 14, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Al Caldwell on 9-string bass for Vanessa Williams, at MPAC season opener, Sept. 14, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
MPAC CEO Allison Larena at MPAC season opener, Sept. 14, 2018. She said MPAC's 200 annual shows bring more than 200,000 to Morristown, generating $15 million for the economy. MPAC also presented 17 free events this year, she said. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Vanessa Williams gets into her groove, at MPAC season opener, Sept. 14, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
NJ Secretary of State Tahesha Way, left, with Morristown First Lady Mary Dougherty, Mayor Tim Dougherty, and Tahesha's husband, former NY Girant Charles Way, at MPAC season opener, Sept. 14, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Vanessa Williams shines at MPAC season opener, Sept. 14, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
J.T. Lewis on drums for Vanessa Williams at MPAC season opener, Sept. 14, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Vanessa Williams at MPAC season opener, Sept. 14, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Doc Powell on guitar for Vanessa Williams at MPAC season opener, Sept. 14, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Leo Colon sings harmony for Vanessa Williams at MPAC season opener, Sept. 14, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Doc Powell, left, and Henry Hey back Vanessa Williams at MPAC season opener, Sept. 14, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Vanessa Williams saved 'Work to Do' for her encores, at MPAC season opener, Sept. 14, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
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P1390067 - Vanessa Williams stars at MPAC season opener, Sept. 14, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
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The Bronx native fought her way back to success in music, films, TV and Broadway. Her advice?

“Do your best, hang in there, be professional,” said Williams, 55.

The mother of four (ages 18 to 31) shared some pretty sound advice on parenthood, too: 

“Cherish every moment.”

Vanessa Williams at MPAC, Sept. 14, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Vanessa Williams at MPAC, Sept. 14, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

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