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Cabaret

More Broadway’s Greatest Hits at Feinstein’s/ 54 Below

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Scott Siegel is New York’s leading impresario of the Broadway musical revue.  He is the creator of Town Hall’s critically acclaimed Broadway by the Yearseries now in its 40thedition. In this ongoing series of musical evenings entitled 54 Sings Broadway’s Greatest Hits, which he has created for 54 Below, Mr. Siegel brings a similar format to this warm and wonderful cabaret room.  Audiences here can have much more intimate access to some of Broadways most talented singers and favorite songs than they can get at the rather cavernous Town Hall.

In the Broadway world, even the average performer is expected to be an above average treat to watch. Even so, the truly exceptional talents stand out from the crowd.  In this demanding musical evening, featuring nine fine singers with a wide range of experience, there were only the good, the very good, and the great. That made for a terrific time, no matter how you measure it. 

Gigi Encarnacion singing “Jenny’s Blues” (It Shoulda Been You), Giancarlo Pinzon singing “Barrett’s Song” (Titanic), Kelsey Lee Smith performing “The Life I Never Led” (Sister Act), Matt Weinstein singing “Waving Through a Window”  (Dear Evan Hansen) and Allison Semmes doing “People” (Funny Girl) were all fine young performers who gave heartfelt if occasionally overwrought renditions of these familiar tunes. Douglas Ladnier is an unusual Broadway performer whose vocal style often evoked more idiosyncratic pop artists, in his hypnotic renditions of “Body and Soul” and “Once Upon a Dream” (Jeckyl and Hyde).  

A cut above for me were operatic tenor John Easterlin with his soaring rendition of “Without a Song” (Great Day), as well as a dusty classic from German operetta, “You Are My Heart’s Desire” by Franz Lehar (Land of Smiles). Cooper Grodin, who played the Phantomin the National Tour, gave a hauntingly beautiful, nearly unplugged rendition of “Music of the Night,” which Mr. Siegel pointed out was the song as it should be heard, intimate and unadorned.  

But I have saved my highest praise for two performers who really set the bar for what it means in my mind to be a real Broadway star.  

Jillian Louis was last seen on Broadway in the relatively short lived It Should Been You, and is often seen lending her talents to developing musicals around town. I also loved her work in the 2017 NYMF presentation of Georama. Whereas most of the other young performers in this evening seemed to equate power with pushing, Ms. Louis was powerful like a magnet, drawing her audience inescapably towards her with her soaring soprano and tremendous personal appeal. She evoked the charm and style of young Eydie Gorme in her vibrant rendition of “I’ve Got to be Me” (Golden Rainbow), then followed that with a deeply felt and beautifully acted presentation of “Maybe This Time,” a Kander and Ebb favorite written for Kaye Ballard’s night club act, appropriated by Liza Minelli for her own show, and eventually incorporated into the movie and subsequent stage productions of Cabaret.  

Last but by no means least was William Michals, who is arguably Broadway’s greatest baritone. I didn’t get to see him as Emile in South Pacific, but I sure wish I had. Once upon a time, all Broadway shows had manly baritone leading men with big ballads tailored for this kind of singer. If your ears are starting to hurt like mine from the profusion of screaming, whining, twenty-something, high tenors playing pained adolescents in contemporary musicals, and you long to hear a mature voice in a song that could win the love of a grown-up woman, Mr. Michals’ thrilling, robust, romantic style will send chills through you, just as it did me. After his lilting, passionate delivery of “If Ever I Would Leave You” (Camelot), the 54 Below audience erupted into waves of  well deserved“bravos”. If you missed him this time, don’t miss him the next time you get a chance to hear him perform.

Mr. Siegel did a fine job setting up each song with clever anecdotal introductions. My favorite was his description of the sixty-year old “If Ever I Would Leave You” as a song that “has lasted longer than all of Alan Jay Lerner’s marriages combined”. I also enjoyed his quip that Jeckyl and Hydeis a show proving that “not every girl lives happily ever by marrying a doctor!”

The very fine piano accompaniment for the evening was by Musical Director, Ross Patterson. 

If I had any disappointment, it was in the range of material, not all of which qualified for me as the “greatest hits” of Broadway. I could have lived without any song from German operetta, especially if the melody has not survived on its merit. I don’t care if Titanicwon a Tony. It’s still a mediocre show about a boat, not the people on it.  “Barrett’s Song” is indeed the best number from Titanic; but it is utterly lacking in the personalization that makes a memorable Broadway number and always leaves me cold.

The show also could have used a little humor in the songs, in addition to Mr. Siegel’s introductions. Mr. Michals and Mr. Grodin were paired for the soppy ballad, “Lily’s Eyes, ” arguably the best song from yet another show I consider to be a yawning mediocrity, The Secret Garden. As my date pointed out, it would have been a lot more fun to hear them sing “Agony” fromInto the Woods.

However, from performing talents this strong, we, the audience, will happily take whatever we can get. So I already look forward to the next installment of 54 Sings Broadway’s Greatest Hits. 

Jeffery Lyle Segal is a multifaceted theater artist who has worn many professional hats. He started as a musical theater performer in his teens. He attended Stanford U., Northwestern University, and SUNY at Binghamton to study acting, directing and dramatic literature. He also wrote theater reviews for The Stanford Daily and was Arts Editor of WNUR Radio at Northwestern. After college, he is proud to have been the first full time Executive Director of Chicago’s acclaimed Steppenwolf Theater Company. He left them to work as a theater actor and director. His special effects makeup skills got him into the movies, working on the seminal cult horror film, Re-Animator.He also did casting for several important Chicago projects, sometimes wearing both production hats, as he did on Chicago’s most famous independent movie, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. While living in Los Angeles, he joined the Academy for New Musical Theater, where he developed two book musicals as a composer, lyricist and librettist, Down to Earth Girl (formerly I Come for Love, NYMF 2008), and Scandalous Behavior! (York Developmental Reading Series 2010). He wrote, produced and performed his song “Forever Mine” as the end title theme of the horror film, Trapped! He also has written songs for his performances in cabaret over the years, and the time he spent pursuing country music in Nashville. Most recently he created a musical revue, Mating the Musical, for the Chicago Musical Theater Festival 2016. In NYC, he has attended the BMI musical theater writers’ workshop, and the Commercial Theater Institute 14 week producer program. He is currently creating a company to develop new musicals online. He still keeps up his makeup chops, working with top doctors in NYC and Chicago as one of the country’s most highly regarded permanent cosmetic artists (www.bestpermanentmakeup.com) and as a member of Chicago local IATSE 476. www.jefferylylesegal.com

Cabaret

My View: An Evening With Rex Reed, Will Friedwald, & POLLY BERGEN

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Will Friedwald’s Clip Joint presented the legendary film critic and personality “Rex Reed Remembers Polly Bergen” last night at the TRIAD Theater.  It was a fascinating evening as Rex, who was one of Polly Bergen’s closest friends told fly on the wall show biz stories and personal anecdotes about her remarkable life.  An especially hilarious one occurred at the annual OSCAR NIGHT party that Polly had every year in her New York apartment.  There was Rex, watching the Oscars on a TV in Polly’s bedroom, Lucille Ball on one side of him and Paul Newman on the other .  Milton Berle who had been in another room parades past them wearing one of Polly’s gowns that he snatched from her closet!

Will and Rex reminisced about her amazing career in the movies ( including three classic comedies with Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis) but even more so on television.  In fact, her career spans the very history of the small screen medium, starting with appearances on pioneering broadcasts of the late 1940’s right up to a memorable regular role in the hit series DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES-although she was probably best known for starring in the legendary 1957 PLAYHOUSE 90 live television biography of HELEN MORGAN.  In other guises, she was an entrepreneur and political activist. 

Will Friedwald brought along his extensive library of film clips of her appearances on The Hollywood Palace, The Andy Williams Show, The Dean Martin Show, The Perry Como Kraft Music Hall, The Dinah Shore Chevy Show and appearances with Phil Silvers, George Burns, Red Skelton, Andy Williams and many more. Polly Bergen (1930-2014) had three husbands, and unfortunately became a Doris Day type financial victim because of her last one. And now “here’s the rest of my personal Polly Bergen story”.

Many years ago a firm placed a large order with my factory.  When I checked with our credit insuring agency they advised me that the company did not have enough finances to purchase that amount of goods and consequently the agency would only insure half the order.  Not wanting to reject a sizable order I made an appointment to meet the owner in his garment center office and check out his business for myself.  During the course of the conversation somehow the entertainment business came up (of course it did) and he mentioned that he was married to Polly Bergen.  Being a fan and and having reverence for the famous and talented artists in this world I dropped my usual due diligence guard and the hour was spent talking about show business, I loved it, especially when he invited me over to their apartment to watch the Super Bowl.   Well, I shipped all the merchandise…and you can guess what happened….Years later I met Polly Bergen at one of Rex Reed’s evenings and introduced myself with the opening line “ you cost me a lot of money” and then related the story of how her husband never paid.   Polly put her arm around me and said in her bawdy way, “ honey, you’re lucky it was only that, he bankrupted me”.

WILL FRIEDWALD

REX REED & WILL FRIEDWALD

POLLY BERGEN

REX REED

POLLY BERGEN & DEAN MARTIN

PERRY COMO & POLLY BERGEN

REX REED & WILL FRIEDWALD

ANDY WILLIAMS & POLLY BERGEN

POLLY BERGEN & SANDLER & YOUNG

REX REED & POLLY BERGEN

REX REED & EDA SOROKOFF

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Cabaret

My View: Happily Ever Laughter at 54 Below……Liz Callaway & Jason Graae

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At first glance they might seem like a musical and personality mismatch, but the chemistry between Liz Callaway and Jason Graae is far from problematic.  It is an enormously entertaining integration of these two artists musicianship, acting, and comedic expertise. Liz Callaway’s once in a lifetime voice and vocal dexterity doesn’t just sing in tune.  It lands in the middle of the middle of a note with a clarity that pierces your soul.  Jason, once he gets his oboe in tune (that’s a double entenndre) also possesses excellent vocal technique, and my camera, no matter how many photos I snap is incapable of capturing his enormously expressive facial movements that glide between comical and the heartfelt with such ease. His rendition of William Finn’s “What More Can I Say” brought tears.  The duets from “BABY” for which Ms Callaway was nominated for a Tony and her two songs from the animated film Anastasia (in which she starred) were highlights.  This evening’s friendship (they’ve been for forty years) was the perfect blendship, together with the masterful Alex Rybeck on the piano at 54 Below last night. The show was very appropriately titled “Happily Ever Laughter” and it has two more performances, July 5 & 6.

Speaking of friendship and blendship, my table of KT Sullivan, Eda, and Debbie Gravitte was pretty special too.

JASON GRAAE & LIZ CALLAWAY

LIZ CALLAWAY & JASON GRAAE

LIZ CALLAWAY & JASON GRAAE

LIZ CALLAWAY & JASON GRAAE

JASON GRAAE

JASON GRAAE

JASON GRAAE & LIZ CALLAWAY

JASON GRAAE & LIZ CALLAWAY

LIZ CALLAWAY

JASON GRAAE & LIZ CALLAWAY

54 BELOW

LIZ CALLAWAY & JASON GRAAE

ALEX RYBECK, LIZ CALLAWAY, JASON GRAAE

54 BELOW

JASON GRAAE & RICHARD SKIPPER

KT SULLIVAN, DEBBIE GRAVITTE, EDA SOROKOFF

HAPPILY EVER LAUGHTER

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Cabaret

Gilded Age Music at Cocktail Time 

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A rather serendipitous invitation arrived, was immediately accepted, and next thing I knew I was singing along to delightful music from the beginning of the last century.  A prestigious members-only private club nestled in that small enclave near the Great White Way was the perfect place for such an event. The hosts, George Calderaro, Founding Director of the Tin Pan Alley American Popular Music Project and everyone’s favorite interpreter of songs from any age, Steve Ross, were ideal as well.  

The purpose of the TPAAP Music Project is to commemorate and continue the legacy of the birthplace of American popular music on West 28th Street, the location of Tin Pan Alley. This group is responsible for having the section of that street between Broadway and Sixth Avenue designated formally as Tin Pan Alley.   

George and Steve worked almost in tandem giving illuminating background on the songs and the composers, most notably Berlin, Gershwin and Kern. The program began with “After the Ball” to which we sang along, without no encouragement needed.  It’s really a sad song, and the lyrics when focused on reveal a heartbreak that is most touching even now. These songs unintentionally spoke of an innocence and naivete that one can yearn for, wistfully perhaps, in this age so far removed from the Gilded One.   

This evening was partially a tutorial, which was most welcome judging by comments heard afterwards.  Who knew, for example, that the man who wrote “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” had never attended a baseball game? As an aside, Steve mentioned that when asked how he could write a song about Paris if he had never been there, Harold Arlen replied “I’ve never been Over the Rainbow” either”! 

The crowd in this august room showered the pair with applause and a standing ovation after we all sang “In Old New York”, where indeed we felt we were, if only for an hour. 

If you google tinpanalley.nyc, you’ll be led to the website of this association. Hope to see you at their next event!  

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Cabaret

Little Island’s The Glade Series, Free-to-the-Public Live Performances

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Little Island announced the line-up for The Glade Series, an array of free-to-the-public live performances, launching July 10. These events will take place Wednesday through Sunday for seven weeks inside the Island’s 200-seat venue. This announcement comes on the heels of the sold-out run of Twyla Tharp, T Bone Burnett, and David Mansfield’s How Long Blues, which opened Little Island’s blockbuster summer season of world premiere events.

From July 10-14, each night of Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks’s Tell Me More series will thoughtfully pair a musical performance with a conversation between Parks and an expert from a different field. On July 10, for an evening themed “Greens & Blues,” a set by blues legend Ruthie Foster will precede a talk between Parks and Majora Carter, founder of Sustainable South Bronx. Other guests include designer Daisy Wang, who will also dress Lori-Parks, freestyle MC Corey James Gray, Columbia astronomy professor Jane Huang, harpist Brandee Younger, historian Eric Foner, and Parks’ own Psychedelic Soap Box, a post-bop jazz collective with spoken word. On Saturday July 13, Parks will invite the audience into one of her engaging Watch Me Work sessions, alongside a very special guest, before taking the stage with her band Sula & the Joyful Noise.

Taking the Glade stage from July 17-21 will be “wondrous” (The New York Times) dancer Melissa Toogood, in an intimate epilogue to Pam Tanowitz’s Day for Night, playing concurrently in Little Island’s Amphitheater (The Amph).

Mx Justin Vivian Bond, downtown cabaret legend and recent recipient of the first Judy Icon Award, will play five nights from July 24-28.

The Island will host a one-of-a-kind Oyster Market, July 31-August 4, curated and overseen by New Amsterdam Market founder and culinary world all-star Robert LaValva. Alongside live oyster shucking, the market will feature local vendors selling their unique culinary creations, which pair perfectly with The Oyster Radio Hour playing simultaneously in The Amph.

Then, from August 7-11, Morgan Jay returns to Little Island for his third consecutive summer to host and curate a week of comedy, including acts by Jay Jurden, Neel Gosh, and Sarah Tollemache.

From August 14-18, linguists Ross Perlin and Daniel Kaufman, co-founders of the Endangered Language Alliance, will collaborate with Michael Leibenluft and Gung Ho Projects to create a series of performances about the past, present, and future of the world’s most linguistically diverse city. The series will be led by speakers of endangered, Indigenous, and minority languages, talking about their communities in their own words and in their own languages, alongside poetry, music, and movement, with texts based on Perlin’s Language City: The Fight to Preserve Endangered Mother Tongues in New York. A multilingual soundscape will draw on ELA’s digital language archive, with its recordings in more than one hundred languages, as well as visual elements from ELA’s digital landscape map and creative translanguaging translation strategies.

From August 21-25, Grammy Award-winning artist Cécile McLorin Salvant will lend her curatorial vision to the Glade, programming a set of performances by other musicians at the vanguard of their styles and forms, including jazz vocalist Vanisha Gould, folk artist June McDoom, multi-instrumentalist Lua Noah, pianist Sullivan Fortner, and more.

Closing out summer in the Glade, from August 28-September 1, Gio Escobar will host a series of unique, genre-bending experiences, including a bomba and a salsa night, before taking the stage with his own avant-garde collective, Standing on the Corner.

Tickets to Little Island’s summer season of performances, as well as information on free programs, are available at littleislanditickets.com.

THE GLADE SERIES / FULL PERFORMANCE CALENDAR

JULY 10-14 / SUZAN-LORI PARKS      

“Tell Me More”                                                

A series of performances and conversation curated and hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winner Suzan-Lori Parks. Each evening, conceived around a pair of ideas, will feature a musical act and a conversation between Parks and a cultural luminary.

Wednesday, July 10, 2024, 7:00 PM

Blues & Greens: Conversation with Suzan-Lori Parks and Majora Carter / Performance by Ruthie Foster

The Glade

Thursday, July 11, 2024, 10:00 PM

The Runway & The Street: Conversation with fashion designer Daisy Wang / Performance by MC Corey James Gray & Freestyle Monday

The Glade

Friday, July 12, 2024, 10:00 PM

Outer Space & Inner Space: Conversation with Columbia Astronomy Professor Jane Huang / Performance by Psychedelic Soap Box /

The Play Ground

Saturday, July 13, 2024, 7:00 PM

Work & Play: Watch Me Work w/ Suzan-Lori Parks & Special Guest / Performance by Suzan-Lori Parks’s Sula & the Joyful Noise

The Glade

Sunday, July 14, 2024, 7:00 PM

Past & Future: Conversation with Suzan-Lori Parks and Eric Foner / Performance by Brandee Younger

The Glade    

JULY 17-21 / MELISSA TOOGOOD

“Epilogue: Pam Tanowitz’s ‘Day For Night’”                                

“Wondrous performer” (New York Times) Melissa Toogood dances an epilogue to choreographer Pam Tanowitz’s Day for Night, playing at 8:30pm each night in The Amph.

Wednesday, July 17, 2024, 9:30 PM

Epilogue: Day for Night

The Glade

Thursday, July 18, 2024, 9:30 PM

Epilogue: Day for Night

The Glade

Friday, July 19, 2024, 9:30 PM

Epilogue: Day for Night

The Glade

Saturday, July 20, 2024, 9:30 PM

Epilogue: Day for Night

The Glade

Sunday, July 21, 2024, 9:30 PM

Epilogue: Day for Night

The Glade      

JULY 24-28 / JUSTIN VIVIAN BOND                                                                    

A Week of Cabaret                                                   

Wednesday, July 24, 2024, 6:30 PM

Justin Vivian Bond

The Glade

Thursday, July 25, 2024, 6:30 PM

Justin Vivian Bond

The Glade

Friday, July 26, 2024, 10:00 PM

Justin Vivian Bond

The Glade

Saturday, July 27, 2024, 10:00 PM

Justin Vivian Bond

The Glade

Sunday, July 28, 2024, 6:30 PM

Justin Vivian Bond

The Glade

July 31-August 4 / NEW AMSTERDAM OYSTER MARKET

A week of food. Curated by Roberta LaValva & the New Amsterdam Market

Food & Beverage available for purchase*

AUGUST 7-11 / MORGAN JAY & FRIENDS                                                                        

A Week of Comedy

Wednesday, August 7, 2024, 7PM

Morgan Jay, Usama Siddique, Isa Medina, Daniel Bridgegadd

The Glade

Thursday, August 8, 2024, 7PM

Morgan Jay, Sean Donnelly, Tatiana Frank, Myq Kaplan

The Glade

Friday, August 9, 2024, 10:00 PM

Morgan Jay, Sahib Singh, Shane Torres, Jordan Jensen

The Glade

Saturday, August 10, 2024, 7:00 PM

Morgan Jay, Jay Jurden, Carmen Lynch, Neel Gosh

The Glade    

Sunday, August 11, 2024, 7:00 PM

Morgan Jay, Sarah Tollemache, Leclerc Andrew, Erin Jackson

The Glade    

AUGUST 14-18 / ENDANGERED LANGUAGE ALLIANCE

“Language City”                                                      

A series of performances about the past, present, and future of the world’s most linguistically diverse city. The series will be led by speakers of endangered, Indigenous, and minority languages speaking about their communities in their own words and in their own languages, alongside poetry, music, and movement, with texts based on Perlin’s Language City: The Fight to Preserve Endangered Mother Tongues in New York. A multilingual soundscape will draw on ELA’s digital language archive, with its recordings in over a hundred languages, as well as visual elements from ELA’s digital landscape map and creative translanguaging translation strategies.

Conceived by Ross Perlin, Daniel Kaufman, Michael Leibenluft, the Endangered Language Alliance, and Gung Ho Projects. Directed by Michael Leibenluft.

Wednesday, August 14, 6:30 PM

Language City

The Glade

Thursday, August 15, 2024, 6:30 PM

Language City

The Glade

Friday, August 16, 2024, 10:00 PM

Language City

The Glade

Saturday, August 17, 2024, 6:30 PM

Language City

The Glade

Sunday, August 18, 2024, 6:30 PM

Language City

The Glade    

AUGUST 21-25 / CURATED BY CECILE MCLORIN SALVANT

A Week of Celebrated Jazz and Folk Artists

Wednesday, August 21, 2024, 8:30PM

Vanisha Gould (ASL Interpreted)

The Glade

Thursday, August 22, 2024, 8:30-9:30PM

June McDoom

The Glade

Friday, August 23, 2024, 10:00 PM

Lua Noah

The Glade

Saturday, August 24, 2024, 8:30PM

Sullivan Fortner

The Glade

Sunday, August 25, 2024, 8:30PM

TBA

The Glade    

AUGUST 28-SEPTEMBER 1 / CURATED BY GIO ESCOBAR        

A Week of Music and Performance Art

Wednesday, August 28, 2024, 7PM

The Glade

Thursday, August 29, 2024, 7PM

The Glade

Friday, August 30, 2024, 10:00 PM

TBD

Saturday, August 31, 202, 7PM

The Glade

Sunday, September 1, 2024, 7PM

The Glade    

After the conclusion of these public performances in September, The Glade will become New York’s newest outdoor cocktail lounge, complete with a bar designed by Green River Project and a menu of beer, wine, cocktails and mocktails that can be consumed in The Glade or enjoyed anywhere on Little Island. This is just one of the multiple food and beverage venues in the park, throughout the summer.

Little Island’s first annual, four-month-long summer season of world premieres, which kicked off on June 1, features a total of nine newly commissioned pieces. Little Island’s new arts program moves towards the future with a commitment to a multi-year roster of original work, all commissioned by and developed at Little Island. Bookended by the premiere of choreographer Twyla Tharp’s newest work How Long Blues and a 90-minute remix of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro in which outré opera diva Anthony Roth Costanzo sings every leading role, the season offers premieres of varying scales across all areas of performance – including music, dance, theater, opera, comedy, jazz, pop, and funk, all outdoors and directly sited on the Hudson River at 14th Street in New York City. The Amph, the park’s 700-seat amphitheater, will house larger scale performances at a $25 ticket price, while The Glade, the park’s 200-seat venue, will be home to more intimate works, all of which will be completely free to the public.

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Cabaret

My View: Jamie deRoy & Her Friends….Who’s Like Them….Damm few

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There wasn’t a sign on the door that said “ Private Party…you have to know Jamie deRoy to get in”, but it seemed that way last night as all the tables in Birdland were filled with Jamie’s friends. They came for another edition of her long running (34 years) variety show.  Jamie as usual hosted the evening and presented a talented line up of performer friends which included: Jason Graae, Jason Henderson, Cory Kahaney, MOIPEI, A.J. Shively, and Jim Vallance & Catherine Porter. The evening, which benefited the Entertainment Community Fund, was directed by Barry Kleinbort with musical direction by Ron Abel.

A show tends to be well received when an audience is mainly comprised of friends. However, even an audience of strangers would have become Jamie’s friends after watching this outstanding cast creating a highly enjoyable evening of music and humor.  As the song says.. “ya’ got to have friends”, and to answer the question asked by the many friends who couldn’t snag a ticket…yes, Jamie sang “Jews Don’t Camp”.

Check out the show photos and the Cast Party

JAMIE deROY

A.J.SHIVELY

JASON HENDERSON

CORY KAHANEY

CATHERINE PORTER & JIM VALLANCE

CATHERINE PORTER

JASON GRAAE

JASON GRAAE

JASON GRAAE

RON ABEL, music director

RON ABEL

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