On Monday, September 19th at 7:00, The 8th Edition Of Robin’s Nest, a benefit to raise funds for the organization Help Us Adopt and hosted by Robin Westle, provided an evening of talent and generosity at the Laurie Beechman Theatre. The room was full of supporters of the organization waiting to be entertained by songs and stories delivered by an impressive and varied cast. What ensued was more than just entertainment. It was a memorable event, expertly crafted by director Eric Michael Gillett.
Westle opened the show with a warm rendition of Dick Gallagher and Mark Waldrop’s “Over the Top” and welcomed both veterans and newcomer “hatchlings” to Robins Nest. With considerable pride, Westle described the groundbreaking work of Help Us Adopt, which has raised $1,500,000 for adoption grants that have facilitated successful adoptions for more than 175 families. Westle and her husband Tom adopted and raised two children to adulthood, and their deep desire to help other families share that joy is both touching and inspiring. Westle said that she chose to move the show along by not offering raffles or prizes, and urged the audience members to further donate to www.helpusadopt.org if they were so moved.
The show was indeed moving. Young Isaiah Feil-Sharp both sang and told his powerful story of living through foster care and finally being adopted at the age of fifteen (his dads were in the audience). The brightest moments of the evening included the compelling and sweet soprano of Broadway star Megan McGinnis (Side Show, Les Miserables, Little Women, Beauty and the Beast, to name a few). McGinnis delivered a stunning arrangement (by Tedd Firth) of Irving Berlin’s I love a Piano, with phrasing and tone one could listen to for hours. She was joined by her husband Adam Halpin, who presented a heart-wrenching performance of William Finn’s Anytime. Megan is due with their first child, a son, in January. When the two of them sang a complex arrangement of Over the Rainbow, the poignancy of new life, be it nurtured through biology or adoption, was powerful.
Director Eric Michael Gillett captivated the crowd with Dar William’s After All. Special guest artist KT Sullivan showed the full breadth of her skills in three completely different songs: Stephen Sondheim’s I Never Do Anything Twice, Jerome Kern’s My Husband’s First Wife and Kander and Ebb’s Colored Lights. Always a funny lady in compete control of her lyrics, Sullivan had the audience hooting and clapping with delight. She then threw us a curve and presented a raw performance of Colored Lights that left me breathless in its honesty. Eric Michael Gillett and KT Sullivan share a long history as friends, and call each other, “My oldest friend in show business.” Both of them are living proof that talent (gotta have it) experience and very hard work are the recipe for consistently excellent performances.
Robin Westle is a lovely host and an entertaining performer. Her excellent storytelling in Kander and Ebb’s Ring them Bells was as personal as it was hilarious, which is a winning formula for comedy in cabaret. I look forward to the 9th Edition of Robin’s Nest, to see what this mother/actress/ speech pathologist/wife/cabaret performer and magnanimous soul has up her sleeve next time!