The S.T.A.G.E. Benefit at the Wilshire Theatre - Beverly Hills Playhouse

The S.T.A.G.E. Benefit

This weekend I played at the 25th annual STAGE Benefit at the Wilshire Theatre. It was dedicated to the music and lyrics of George and Ira Gershwin, and I had been invited to perform my solo transcription of Rhapsody in Blue. The director of the show, David Galligan, had also directed our first big Camelot Artists fundraiser in 2006 that took place over at UCLA, and I performed the piece there – he rememberd it. Coincidentally, I performed at the Wilshire Theatre in 2007, for our benefit celebrating Doris Roberts, also playing Gershwin – my transcription of Concerto in F.

So it was strange to be back in this grand old theatre, by far the largest venue I’ve played – when I performed in 2007 I was convinced that would be a once-in-a-lifetime deal. Wrong.

I essentially led off the 3+ hour program (including the requisite 45-minute intermission with silent and live auctions), with the overture leading seamlessly to a brief and beautiful singing of Summertime, leading seamlessly to me at the piano. I was grateful to be allowed to perform the entire piece, all 12 minutes of it, which made mine longest performance in the show – but the audience didn’t seem to mind. A piece like Rhapsody in Blue has been a crowd pleaser since 1924 for a reason.

Best backstage line: When one performer spent far too many minutes engaged in a pseudo-standup comedy routine as preamble to her song,  Bruce Vilanch quipped to those of us watching on the monitor, “It’s like a hostage crisis.”

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