The Development Wing dedicated itself to nurturing new musicals via partnerships with regional, not for profit theaters held an intimate one-night-only benefit concert featuring Broadway stars singing songs from four new musicals and several tunes by great American songwriters like Johnny Mercer
and Fats Waller. The event "Broadway Under the Stars" took place at a sprawling, historic estate in the bucolic countryside of Tewksbury, New Jersey home of Cherie King
and her husband composer, lyricist and book writer, Jonathan Brielle
, Artistic Director of The Development Wing.
See below for photos from the gala!
The musical gala was co-hosted by award winning director Michael Bush, who directed the evening and Brielle who also performed. Four musicals, several of which have been mounted already, were showcased: Brielle's "Himself and Nora" a tale of the hard drinking Irish writer James Joyce and Nora Barnacle the chambermaid who became his lover, partner and muse for 29 years directed by Michael Bush which opened the 2012 New York Musical Theatre Festival to critical acclaim; "Nightmare Alley", an adaptation of the classic 1047 film noir starring Tyrone Power which had its world premiere at the Geffen Playhouse directed by the esteemed Gil Cates; "40 Naked Women and Me" the story of songwriter Joshua Beal who finds himself in the midst of a hallucinating and hilarious mid-life crisis that debuted at the Eugene O'Neill Cabaret and Performance Conference this summer and "Menu", a new musical comedy about the American melting pot in the 21st Century.
Director Michael Bush who recently wrapped his 8th - and most acclaimed - season at the Tony Award winning Eugene O'Neill Cabaret and Performance Conference along with Brielle assembled an all-star cast of Broadway’s brightest lights.
They included Leanne Borghesi, Jessica Burrows, Veanne Cox, Brittney-Lee Hamilton, Jeremiah James, Marcy McGuigan plus Jonathan Brielle . Brielle's rockin' All Star Band featuring players from The Rolling Stones and Paul Simon’s Band including Steven Ray Watkins – piano; Larry Saltzman – guitar; Benny Koonevesky – drums; Jim Hynes – trumpet; Andy Snitzer – tenor sax; Charles Pillow – flute and reeds; Mike Davis – trombone.
The event was a mini-reunion for Bush, Brielle and Burrows. The trio was all involved with the critically acclaimed “Himself and Nora” Brielle’s new musical about James Joyce and Nora Barnacle which kicked off this year’s New York Musical Theatre Festival. Bush directed the new York premiere of the musical which featured Jersey Boys' Matt Bogart as Joyce and Burrows who starred as Nora and won the NYMF Award for Outstanding Leading Female Performance.
Cherie King and her Development Wing cohort Judy Ross hosted cocktails which featured delectable hors d'oeuvres by Patricia Lindridge-Ingber's Food Company including grilled shrimp on corn cakes, filet of beef with Chimichurri , tuna tartar and sushi, which guests nibbled while strolling the gently rolling grounds beautifully landscaped by designer Chas Fox of Back to Nature.
They also bid on a number of exclusive items in the Silent Auction such as Hamilton Farms Golf and Lunch afternoon for three with a member at one of the finest courses in the country situated on a historic country estate, an original oil painting by Raffaele Donofrio; Original Song Composed by Jon Brielle; Make your own Record at Brielle Studios; Broadway Show tickets, a Tiffany Style Lamp, basket of Homemade Jams foraged and prepared by Colin Frager; Limited Edition Handcrafted Earrings and bracelet of Sterling Silver by Kathryn Scimone Stanko and the opportunity to build a new relationship or start a new career with BeginAnu, created by career and relationship coach Cherie King.
Chimes signaled the start of the show and several hundred guests took their places at cabaret tables as Michael Bush welcomed the crowd to "just another night on Farmersville Road", to great chuckles. Hardly just another night, as the show quickly rolled out with one show-stopper after another.
Brielle kicked of the evening with the roaring anthem for everyone who wants to see their name on a marquee, "I Saw Broadway" from his newest musical "40 Naked Women, a Monkey and Me". In an evening filled with highlights, standouts included Jessica Burrows poignant "Stand Fast" and the bitter "Without a Man" whose refrain is "what would I be without a man - lucky" from "Himself and Nora; Marcy McGuigan's arch "Take the Money and Run"; Leanne Borghese's hilarious Italian mama on "Zibaldone" that brought back memories of Camille Saviola's bawdy Mama Maddalena in "Nine"; Veanne Cox's hilarious turn in "40 Naked Women..." and later in the show her Piaf-esque rendition of the eternal artist's struggle "Commerce & Art"; and Brittney Lee Hamilton's sexy spin on "You Think You're Different And that was just the first act.
Brielle who as Vice Chairmen of the Johnny Mercer Foundation has access to Johnny's "trunk" performed the world premiere of Mercer's " I Wanna Be in Love Again" to thunderous applause.
After intermission, Mike Davis performed a trombone solo of "Time of My Life" followed by the appearance of Broadway great Ken Prymus of Cats & "Ain't Misbehavin" fame who flew in from Las Vegas especially for the event sang ""I Get By" from Brielle's "Nightmare Alley" and then in a special tribute to Fats Waller, Prymus performed a side-splitting rendition of the Waller classic "Your Feets Too Big" that had the crowd hooting and hollering. Sexy Brittney Lee Hamilton returned with a medley of timeless Johnny Mercer that included "Jeepers, Creepers" & "You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby" tune followed by Brielle who as Vice Chairmen of the Johnny Mercer Foundation has access to Johnny's "trunk" performed the world premiere of Mercer's " I Wanna Be in Love Again" to thunderous applause. The closing finale with Brielle & the cast reprising "I Saw Broadway" was an exhilarating, uplifting and thrilling wrap to an extraordinary evening of musical theater. Anyone sitting under the tent that night could indeed say, "I Saw Broadway" tonight.
Check out the photos below!
Marueen Chatfield, Hampton Sailer and Christine Layng
Tara and Aldo Scrofani
Rusty Meyers, Charlotte Ramsey, Gary Miller and Eileen Foley Miller
Rick and Susan Roccesano
Jonathan Brielle sings "I Saw Broadway"
Leanne Borghesi, Marcy McGuigan, Brittney Lee Hamilton and Veanne Cox
Jonathan Brielle and Brittney Lee Hamilton
Veanne Cox, Brittney Lee Hamilton, Jonathan Brielle and Leanne Borghesi
Development Wing's Cherie King and Barbara Martal
Philip and Elaine Getter, Jonathan Brielle, Cherie King and Barbara Martal
Lawrence and Amy Poster
Christian Lerch and Jessica Burrows
Jonathan Brielle and Ken Prymus
Leanne Borghesi, Marcy McGuigan and Brittney Lee Hamilton
The Company: Leanne Borghesi, Ken Prymus, Jessica Burrows, Michael Bush, Jonathan Brielle, Brittney Lee Hamilton, Marcy McGuigan and Veanne Cox