The Richmond/Erment AIDS Foundation has been presenting not only the wonderful “Help is On the Way” but the occasional “One Night Only” cabaret events in the Marine Memorial Theatre on Sutter Street, San Francisco. REAF presents these events to help raise funds for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AID and the REAF foundation. These have become annual events especially when there is a touring musical in town. Members of the touring musical give up their time to help the organizations when the theatre is dark on Monday.
Monday night the cast of the touring company of “Phantom of the Opera” gave up their time to present a wonderful evening of evening of Academy Award-winning music based on an original cabaret “And the Oscar Goes To….. by Jim Bray and Steven Cuevas. Twenty Eight members of the cast gave a special night of grand night of singing and dancing.
Edward Staudenmeyer who plays “Andre” in Phantom was the emcee and he opened the show by singing “Lullaby of Broadway” from Warner Brothers “Gold Diggers of 1935” and then was joined by the whole cast singing “The Way You Look Tonight” from the 1936 film “Swing Time”.
The cast sang some 50 songs from Hollywood films and the dance company that included Ted Keener and Tara Sweeney smoothly danced “The Continental” from the 1934 film “The Gay Divorce” and to end the first act the whole dance company did spectacular dances from “West Side Story, American in Paris” and “Chicago”.
There were many wonderful singers who did solos, duets and joined in the chorus. It went all smoothly with songs seguing to each other. They were generally done in groups of three or more such as romantic songs such as “Secret Love”, “Moon River” and “Three Coins in the Fountains” and comedy songs such as “Talk to the Animals”. “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp” from the 2005 film “Hustle and Flow”.
Everyone was spot on in the singing department especially Katie Travis who plays Christine beautifully sang “Que Sera Sera” and
When You Wish Upon a Star”, Mark Emerson (Auctioneer in “Phantom) in his rendition of “Raindrops Keep Fallin on My Head, David Benoit (Monsieur Firmin) was with thematic resonance singing “Evergreen” and pared with Marguerite Willbanks (Wardrobe Mistress in show) in “For All We Know”. Rebecca Robins (Madame Firmin, confidante) rocked with “Skyfall” while Quinto Ott (Don Attilio)with his powerful bass voice was sublime singing “Do Not Forsake Me”. Anne Kannengeiser (Madame Giry) was pitch perfect singing “Beauty and Beast” while Amy Decker (Swing) with her lovely vocal cords sang “Colors of the Wind”. Nick Cartell (Policeman in Pit, Fight Captain) was also pitch perfect on “Can You Fell the Love Tonight” and “A New World” in the Disney’s section of the show. Jacquelynne Fontaine who plays Carlotta was transcendent singing “Over the Rainbow”.
The outstanding cast consisted of David Benoit, Krista Bucellato, Heilei Call, Nick Cartell, Morgan Cowling, Steve Czarnecki, Tynan Davis, Dan Debenport, Amy Decker, Mark Emerson, Alneica Bette Fellini, David Foley Jr, Jacquelynne Fontaine, Christopher M Howard, Edward Juvier, Anne Kannengeiser, Ted Keener, Jay Lusteck, Kathryn McCreary, Abigal Mentzer, Quinto Ott, Lily Rose Peck, Alexander Pernice, Rebecca Robbins, Edward Staudenmeyer, Tara Sweeney, Katie Travis, Marguerite Willbanks and Micki Weiner.
The cast was backed by Jamie Johns, Ruth Kwan and Elaine Davidson on Piano, Michelle Maruyame on violin and Tom Haberman. The event took place on Monday September 21.