Category Archive for: ‘Richard Connema’




“Help is On the way Holiday Gala” is always a must see event during this holiday season. The iridescent revue is presented by the Richmond/Ermet AIDS Foundation whose mission is to raise funds, which are distribute to a variety of AIDS service organizations. This year marked RAEF 21 years of raising funds to support local AIDS service by producing landmark, quality entertainment events.


This year REAF expanded their focus area for funding to include helping out hunger programs that provide food for the needy and programs that educated, inspired and supported underserved and disenfranchised youth particularly the Larkin Street Youth Services which for 30 years has built a robust continuum of care to help homeless youths to get off the streets.


Help is on the Way presented their annual event on December 7 at the Marines Memorial Theatre featuring such great celebrities Mary Wilson, Martha Wash, Jake Simpson, Shawn Ryan, Carly Ozard, Russ Lorenson, Steve Grand, Jessica Coker, Jason Brock, Lea Bourgade, Barbary Coast Cloggers along with the Phantom’s Leading Ladies consisting of Teri Bibb, Karen Culliver and Mary D’Arcy plus the cast of “Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder” and “How to Succeed In Business Without Trying”.


The show opened with a bang as the cast of “A Gentleman, Guide to Love & Murder” performed  a Musical Holiday Medley from Broadway musicals.   They included “We Need a Little Christmas” from “Mame”, “12 Days to Christmas” from “She Loves Me”, “Turkey-Lurkey Time” from “Promises, Promises”, “Merry Christmas Maggie Thatcher” from “Billy Elliot” and “Christmas Bells” from “Rent” this was followed by Sharon McNight hilariously sung  Sandy and Richard Biccard’s “Holiday Dinner” to the tune of “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer.  Jake Simpson who twice won top honors in the adult singer category on CBS’s “Star Search” in 2003 and 2004 and with his powerful high tenor voice and three octave range sang with gusto Donny Hathaway “This Christmas”.


Jessica Coker who was recently named the 2015 Best New Cabaret Artist of 2015 rocked out John Bucchino “Grateful”. Steve Grand YouTube sensation beautifully sang his own composition “All American Boy” . Three women who have played Christine a “zillion times” in “Phantom of the Opera”  Teri Bibb, Karen Culliver and Mary D’Arcy did a lovely Christmas melody consisting of “I Saw Three Ships/Torch for Jeannette/Caroling, Caroling . They were harmoniously energizing.   Russ Lorenson and Carly Ozard came center stage to brightly sing Fred Silvers mirthful song “The Twelve Days after Christmas” followed by two members of the cast of “Gentleman’s Guide” Christopher Behmke and Kristen Beth Williams exquisitely sang David Foster and Carole Bayer Sager “The Prayer.  Jason Brock one of our best local singers was sublime singing Kim Gannon and Walter Kent “I’ll be Home for Christmas” and then charmingly sang
“Home” from “The Wiz”   Martha Wash who was responsible for some of the top selling, most recognizable pop hits of the 80’s and 90’s brought the house down strongly belted out Paul Shaffer and Paul Jabara “It’s Raining Men”.  She ended the first act on a complete high.


During the intermission there was an auction .  The first of three events was a dinner at Farallon for 8 guests plus singer/songwriter Steve Grand on either December 8th or 11th.  This went for $1700.  The second was for the one week at any Real Housing Luxury Property in San Francisco, Redwood City, Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Palo Alto, Foster City or Santa Clara for a one week stay.  This went for $650.  The final prize was an exotic Southern Caribbean Cruise for two on Celebrity’s Eclipse for 14 days. This went for $4800


The second act opened with the energy driven cast of “How to Succeed In Business Without Really Trying” doing the last bouncing song from the musical “Brotherhood of Man”  Barbary Coast Cloggers took center stage and knocked out “Aditi Singh Sharma “Dhoom Machale Dhoom. Shawan Ryan followed with the Coker Sisters vividly sung the riotous song “Christmas Threw up (on you). Steve Grand returned to the stage to nicely sing Mariah Carey “All I Want for Christmas is You”.  The International famous Violinist Virtuosa Lea Bourgade superbly played on the violin Vittorio Monti back by Nicholas Dold on piano. The Phantom Leading Ladies returned to the stage to Leroy Anderson “Sleigh Ride” and then spectacularly segue into a medley from “Phantom”  Mary Wilson with the same passion she did with the original Supremes beautifully  sang Artie Butler and Phyllis Molinary “Here’s to Life”.


The beautiful carol “O Holy Night was stunningly sung by the members of “Gentleman’s Guide” and then Martha Wash came back to brilliantly sing Helena Johansson’s  “It’s My Time” As a final to the sparking revue the who cast came out to sing Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas”.


This was a grand night of singing and it put everyone into a holiday spirit.

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