Premier Performing Arts, a non-profit professional theatre company producing in Westchester County, presented its inaugural fundraiser, Broadway Tonight with Alan Menken and Friends, at the Tarrytown Music Hall to an enthusiastic crowd.
Broadway's history books were opened as the audience was treated to an array of performances by a long list of notable talents from the Great White Way. The fundraiser was to benefit PPA's yet to be announced spring musical-the first of many offerings expected to grace the Music Hall stage.
The evening opened with a welcome speech by Producing Artistic Director Dennis Edenfield, Managing Director David Guerdette and Music Director Chloe Sasson. The speech was interrupted by an "unexpected" speaker phone call to Edenfield's cell phone by PPA Advisory Board Member Bebe Neuwirth, who was not able to attend the event, but was calling to wish them well. Edenfield then turned over the mike to media personality Valerie Smaldone, who hosted the evening.
Broadway favorite Lee Roy Reams opened the evening with a short rendition of Menken's "Be Our Guest" from Beauty and the Beast, and then tickled the audience's funny bone with a medley from Sweet Charity. Next, John Treacy Egan reincarnated Chef Louis' "Les Poissons" from The Little Mermaid, then offered a medley of "Shall We Dance/I'd Rather Eat Than Cha-Cha."
Up and comers Will and Anthony Nunziata sang "Lullaby of Broadway" in preparation of their Feinstein's debut later this month.
Victoria Mallory and Kurt Peterson, who both sang beautifully as soloists, treated the audience to the most nostalgic moment of the evening when they sang "Tonight, Tonight" from West Side Story which they performed together at Lincoln Center in 1968. Mallory and Peterson were joined by Harvey Evans and Penny Worth to sing "Waiting for the Girls Upstairs" from Sondheim's Follies.
Joel Martin & Jazzical won the audience over with his creative fusion of classical composition and jazz renditions of "There Will Never Be Another You," "Chopin's B Flat Minor Nocturne," and Menken's "Under the Sea."
Anita Gillette opened her set with "You Made Me Love You" and "Alice Blue Gown" from Irene. Penny Fuller gave the audience a glimpse into the world of the musical Ballroom with her take on the showstopper "Fifty Percent."
The highlight of the evening was, of course, Mr. Menken, who started his set with "Her Voice" from The Little Mermaid, and then enticed the audience with some selections of the London hit and Broadway bound Sister Act. Then, Menken reminded the audience of his artistic legacy with a 15-minute medley of his greatest hits from "Beauty and the Beast," "Aladdin," "The Little Mermaid," "Newsies," "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," "Pocahontas," "Enchanted," and Little Shop of Horrors.
Edenfield then returned to announce the PPA Youth Choir, who sang a rousing rendition of Menken's "Seize the Day" from "Newsies," accompanied by Martin with the Nunziatas providing solo vocals.
Premier Performing Arts was founded in 2006 to serve as vital artistic resource for the people, dedicated to presenting and preserving the art of live theatre in order to explore, illuminate and celebrate the human experience. PPA is headed by Producing Artistic Director Dennis Edenfield, a successful director/choreographer and Broadway veteran, having appeared in several Broadway shows, most notably in the original production of A Chorus Line. Members of PPA's Advisory Board include Don Correia, Sandy Duncan, John Kander, Donna McKechnie, Bebe Neuwirth, Debbie Reynolds and Joe Tremaine.