The Los Angeles Independent L.A.
Review: â€œBrothers Gershwin: George and Iraâ€
Originally printed at http://www.laindependent.com/entertainment/42342397.html
The event was wonderful.
The â€œBrothers Gershwin: George and Iraâ€ benefit performance for Aids Project L.A. at the Wilshire Theatre in Beverly Hills on March 21-22 couldnâ€™t have been any better.
It was an outstanding evening chock full of talent staged and directed by David Galligan with spectacular choreography by Lee Martino, Dan Mojica, and Travis Payne. Mary Ekler and Gerald Sternbach (Reprise Theatre at UCLA) were the musical directors.
This show represented the 25th silver anniversary of the Southland Theatre Artists Goodwill Event. The proceeds went to A.P.L.A., which is in its 26th year of providing HIV/AIDS prevention education and direct services throughout L.A. County.
Michael Kearns, who wears many hats as an actor, writer, producer, director and teacher, was the recipient of the S.T.A.G.E. Producers Award. Michael is one of the four co-founders of S.T.A.G.E. and was honored for his commitment to the world-wide battle against HIV/AIDS.
Attendees were treated to some of George and Iraâ€™s most memorable songs.
Among one of the many highlights of the evening for me was Mary Jo Catlettâ€™s, (â€œMadame Buttterballâ€ as she referred to herself) delightfully comedic song, â€œBy Strauss.” Not to be outdone, Bruce Vilanch sang â€œI Love To Rhyme”/Bla, Bla, Bla and did some hilarious patter. Jai Rodriguez sang a poignant and soulful â€œBut Not For Me.” Vicki Lewis, seductively perched on the piano, gave us a change of pace with her sexy, steamy â€œTreat Me Roughâ€ and â€œSlap That Bassâ€ which she sang with the cast of â€œForever Plaid.” There was smooth crooning from the still handsome James Darren (â€œA Foggy Dayâ€). Oldies, but definitely goodies, Betty Garrett and Ian Abercrombie sang â€œIâ€™m A Poached Egg.” Then there was more humor as Carole Cook, almost outdone by her magnificent costume, sang â€œStrike Up The Band.” As she sang, a huge drum rolled out and the band struck matches. Sam Harris started his â€œSwaneeâ€ in a traditional style but decided to do it â€œhis wayâ€ and sang and danced in the style reminiscent of Al Jolson. One of the members of â€œForever Plaidâ€ actually mooned during â€œMy One And Only Highland Fling.â€
Every year, artists from television, film, theater and cabaret generously donate their time and talent for these benefits. This year, some performers who are Broadwayâ€™s newest stars included John Lloyd Young (Frankie Valli in â€œJersey Boysâ€), Michael K. Lee (â€œMiss Saigon,” â€œRent,” and â€œJesus Christ Superstarâ€ on Broadway), and Shoshana Bean (â€œHairsprayâ€ and â€œWickedâ€). The cast of performers, too numerous to mention here, went on and on.
S.T.A.G.E. has raised millions of dollars for HIV/AIDS organizations over the last 25 years. With all the controversy about the billions in bailouts, it is good to know that 100 percent of the net proceeds from â€œThe Brothers Gershwinâ€ benefit performance will go to directly to A.P.L.A.
For future performances, interested persons may call (866) 679-0958.
Audrey Linden is a writer, actress and singer. She teaches On Camera and Improv workshops at Beverly Hills Adult School. She just shot two â€œLittle Caesarsâ€ spots and also is on Gene Simmons â€œFamily Jewelsâ€ and â€œThe Osbourne Variety Show.” She has a comedy pilot, â€œGhost Reconâ€ for HBO in the works.