Pasadena Sparkles with One Starry Night.
On Monday evening, I had the incredible privilege of covering One Starry Night: A Special Performance Dedicated to Conquering ALS. Having been last year to this fantastic spectacle, produced by Jonathan White, Juliana Hansen, Melissa Verdugo & Patrick McMinn, I felt I had an idea of what to expect, yet, I was wrong as they pulled out all of the stops; making this even more beautiful & poignant than their first.
With a fantastic, fitting theme of “From Broadway to Hollywood”, nearly all songs performed by a varied cast of exceptional screen & stage talent, were direct from New York. From the tap dance opening with The Cabrillo Theatre’s cast of Mary Poppins, to Jean Louisa Kelly belting out 42nd Street’s Some People, Norm Lewis’ If I Ruled the World, & Bethany Joy Lenz’s sexy & sultry, with a dash of innocence, On the Steps of the Palace, these singers added so much new insight & depth to some songs I already adore, just had heard in a different setting.
Speaking of songs I adore, it was definitely special for me to hear Luck be a Lady, performed in a perfect Sky Masterson/Guys & Dolls style, by actor Timothy Omundson. Some wonderful memories from my teen years when I discovered & fell in-love with live theatre, came pouring back to me, as Guys & Dolls was the first musical I ever saw live. Omundson gave the subtle, determined flare to the song that it requires for a flawless number.
I also was so pleased when Erik Petersen hit the stage to sing the final song in Act 1 from Shrek, (a role he originated), Who’d I Be. It’s a melancholy, hopeful ballad in which Donkey asks Shrek, who would he be? If he were not a big, green ogre.
Hmm, between loving a Shrek song, as well as The Wicked Witch’s song, I’m Not That Girl in Wicked, & Kermey’s It’s Not Easy Being Green…think I got a green song fetish?? 😉
The icing on the cake, though, was the recent addition of singer, Petula Clark (above), to the bill. Growing up, I went through a phase where her hit song from 1967, Downtown, was my most favorite, & having stayed a fan, I had always wanted to see her perform it. Following a hilarious stand up comedy act from Wendy Liebman, who had the audience laughing non-stop with quips about dating a Doctor, then eating an apple a day in an attempt to get rid of him, & having a new trick to wake up: When you order your coffee at Starbucks & they tell you the $5 total, you’re so blown away that that’s how you wake up instead, when Liebman said her goodbyes & exited, up the curtain went to reveal Petula, the crowd, including myself, went wild.
Looking gorgeous in a glitter-y, sparkling skirt, she, of course, sang Downtown & you could see how much joy she gets from getting the crowd to participate & sing along with her.
While so many amazing performances went down, One Starry Night also devotes a great amount of this variety show to the reason why we’ve come together: To fight ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease). Proceeds from this event benefit The ALS Association Golden West Chapter, & throughout the course of the evening, awards for recognition for ALS were given out to the film makers of The Theory of Everything, The ALS Center at Cedars-Sinai (presented by Renee Zellweger, below, who looked stunning & gave a heartfelt speech about her dear friend, Nancy Ryder, who was recently diagnosed with ALS), Sheldon Epps (Artistic Director of The Pasadena Playhouse, who gave a wonderful speech explaining that everything involving One Starry Night revolves around the generosity of all who participate, donate their time & purchase tickets to the event).
Probably the most devastating part of One Starry Night for me, was The Essey Spirit Award presented to Richard Glatzer & Wash Westmoreland, Directors of this years Oscar-winning picture, Still Alice. I had no idea the incredible back story behind this film; After Glatzer was diagnosed with ALS, he kept his dream alive to make a film showcasing that one is still who they are despite health complications. Unable to speak, due to ALS, he achieved co-directing Still Alice with his Husband, Westmoreland, via his handy iPad & despite passing away just 16 days following Julianne Moore’s win for his film, he was able to see it all go down from Cedars-Sinai. I don’t think there was a dry face in the room learning about this heroic story. Westmoreland was clearly emotional accepting the award, yet stayed strong.
Congratulations to ALL who made One Starry Night possible, & to all those out there fighting ALS. With so many people dedicated to research & a cure, I have no doubt that day will come.
To learn more about ALS, please visit www.alsagoldenwest.org
(*Disclosure: I am honored that I was invited once again to cover One Starry Night on behalf of my blog. All opinions are my own)