As a reviewer I believe it’s not appropriate to actually review a benefit or a memorial show because, while some of the work could be the best work the cast has ever done, many times the emotions involved in the event are meant just to be taken in and appreciated in the moment and not open to scrutiny or review.

The reason for writing about the two wonderful shows that were performed on behalf of The Barry Levitt Foundation, that I produced at Don’t Tell Mama in June and July, is to discuss the generosity of talent and spirit of those who participated, and the beauty of the moment when a cast gets together in love to share their feelings about a great person who has passed with no expectations except to celebrate and entertain in the name of that person.

The Foundation’s Mission is to promote educational music programs, and, to buy instruments for budding musicians in the Tri-State area who cannot afford them. In a time when music programs are being cut from the public school system, and where there are less and less outlets for talented children to find safe ways to express their talent, the foundation’s mission has becomes more than just a nice statement of intent. It is vital to the well-being and musical education of our youth. For some, music is the one thing that takes them out of the lives they currently live, to a place of creativity and hope. For some, their very lives and futures may depend upon someone reaching out to them and saying, “You are talented. Music heals. Here, let us help you!”

And, as the producer of these events I can say that to have these shows performed by the people who studied with and worked with Barry was a beautiful and healing endeavor, in and of itself. We bonded, we cried, we laughed, we mourned. But mostly, with his beautiful bride Brenda in attendance at both shows, we celebrated a lifeforce like no other…Maestro Barry Levitt. In his name, the Foundation raised a lot of money thanks to many private sponsors, great houses and, again, a very generous cast.

There were two afternoon shows with two different casts with the same theme of MY INSPIRATION…CELEBRATING THE LEGENDS WE LOVE. Each cast member spoke about Barry and then about how a “legend” from their past influenced their singing paths and how, in many cases, it was Barry who nurtured that path.

A huge thank you goes out to:

Cast #1 – D’Vorah Bailey, Bruce Clough, Rob Davis, Jackie Hashimoto, Joey Infante, Bernee Kapili, Kelley Karel, Earl Levitt, Kati Neiheisel, Jane Paul, Adam Shapiro and Lenore Stefanik. Warren Schein hosted the evening with Musical Direction by Bill Zeffiro

Cast #2 – Donna Elliott, Stew Frimer, Helena Grenot, Sallie Jo Hadley, Eric Stephen Jacobs, Laurel Kallen, Alicia Littman, DJ O’Neill, Edie Stokes, Artie Thompson and Dorian Woodruff. Patti Bottino-Bravo hosted the evening with Musical Direction by Mark Janas.

As the show’s Producer, it was an honor to witness each singer stepping up and killing it. Brenda told us all how proud Barry would have been, not at the pomp and circumstance of us celebrating him so much as his pride in the spectacular job each performer did on stage in both shows. And, as Producer, I can certainly echo that sentiment. The generosity of spirit, time and talent shown by each of the very talented people, on stage and off, will help to bring music into the life a child who may have little else.

The Barry Levitt Foundation has continued plans for future events and galas, all benefiting a wide range of musical programs in the area. Follow them on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/BarryLevittFoundation/  And, donations should be sent to: The Barry Levitt Foundation, 101 Ranger Road, Greeley, PA 18425

As my good friend Richard Skipper always says when closing a show, “Go out and do something nice for someone without expecting anything in return!” Your rewards will be huge in knowing you have made a difference.

 

Sue Matsuki

Dream it, Believe it, DO IT!