Awed by the high school troupe’s March performance of “A Chorus Line,” Terre Blair — the widow of Marvin Hamlisch — invited them to perform at an American Cancer Society benefit.
The event was held yesterday — the day after what would have been the composer’s 69th birthday — at New York’s Hudson Theater. They shared the stage — and were applauded by — legends like Bernadette Peters, Joel Grey and Robert Klein.
Staples Players can point to many memorable moments in their 55-year history. Last night’s stands at the top of any list.
Photographer Kerry Long captured a few of the many highlights:
Staples Players receive instructions from the stage manager.
Reacting to Broadway stars’ sound check.
Donna McKechnie — who earned a Tony for “Cassie” in “A Chorus Line” — reprises her role, backed by Players.
Players director David Roth (left) with Joel Grey. The Broadway star is known for his role as the MC in “Cabaret” — also played by Roth, in the 1st Players production of that show.
Staples Players perform “One” on the Hudson Theatre stage.
A key “Chorus Line” moment.
“Jersey Boy” John Lloyd Young performs “What I Did For Love” with Staples Player Michelle Pauker.
Staples choral director Luke Rosenberg (left), Bernadette Peters (red hair) and Broadway’s “Annie” (Lilla Crawford, front) pose with some of the Players cast. Will Smith (far right) was the evening’s announcer, as the “Voice of God.”
Joel Gray (3rd row, 4th from left) poses with the Staples Players cast and directors.
Click below (or here) to watch Michelle Pauker, “Jersey Boy” John Lloyd Young, Staples Player and Broadway stars perform “What I Did For Love.”
Last night’s storyline alluded to the character played by musical theater legend Bernadette Peters singing “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” (from “Gypsy”) at the playhouse.
Although “Gypsy” has never actually been produced there, in 1966 Peters appeared at the playhouse in the musical “Riverwind.” She returned to that stage in 2008 to present a special tribute to Angela Lansbury.
Last September, Peters herself was honored with Westport Country Playhouse’s Distinguished Dedication and Service to the American Musical Theater Award.
As they say in TV land, “stay tuned” to “Smash” for more Westport references.
(Click here to view last night’s show. The Playhouse reference can be heard at about 00:54.)
Bernadette Peters and Weston's James Naughton at last year's Westport Country Playhouse Gala. (Photo/Kathleen O'Rourke)
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