Director Donald Labohn holds trophy he received from Doctors Fund at show's conclusion A Job Well Done - for 10 years! (photo by Jeannie)
HIGH FASHION FOLLIES FLIES OFF THE RUNWAY
By Jeannie Lieberman
photos by Gillian Crosson. (unless otherwise credited)
I dare anyone to tell me that legendary Doctor's Fund Director Donald Labohn didn't order the Gay Pride fireworks to be delayed until the entr'acte between his two shows - specially for the show's 10th anniversary - and how fitting were firecrackers for the hottest show of the season!
The reason no one was in the booth for the second show is that they were sold out and Tim and David could go home - job well done - no other show sells like this!
Labohn's choice for this year's theme, The High Fashion Follies, was irresistible - a show about fashion with a wardrobe no woman straight or gay could resist. I know the dresses in Donald's attic are legend, but dressing this large cast was quite a challenge.
That a show of this level can be produced in a short time is because Labohn "knows the territory", he hand picks his cast with infallible accuracy, all "pros" in their own right plus some "ingenues" to keep the thread going.
After a brief opening statement by producers Meryl Facterman & Lois McIntosh,the show launched into its eye catching opening: Vogue-ing
Charity, Donna Piranha, Sylvia Shapiro, Shirley Shapiro, Ivana Cocktail Vogue-ing
Queen Coco Love in Silk 'n Satin
THE TRUTH ABOUT LINGERIE..and who better to tell it than Coco with her naughty little Jenny McCarthy smile.
Lucky Margo & the boys Gary Greene, Roger Cortez & Bobby Ferri
Fluffy - checking if those buns are ready
DENIM A FASHION STATEMENT: Dungaree Doll - goin' steady in high school.but with whom, Margo?
Shirley Shapiro, Urban Sprawl, Donna serenaded by Dan Daly at piano
more ladies: Sylvia Shapiro, Ivana Cocktail & Charity
DOES ANYONE STILL WEAR A HAT?
Woman in a Black Cocktail Hat featured a marvelous multi stanza song specially written by talented Dan Daly, looking very classy in his tux, for the ladies who drink, er lunch: "when it comes to style and grace she knows just where its at, I am speaking of the lady in the Black cocktail hat" - Sylvia, Shirley, Donna, Charity, Urban and Ivana (standing in for the injured Louisa Verdi - not that Ivana cant stand n her own) The ladies were hilarious as they lapsed into languor from liquor. Labohn's meticulous directorial touches were evident as they freeze framed in body & facial expression as each one stumbled out of the room with aplomb. That the cast could do it so well is tribute to their collective talent. Of course, show stealer Ivana did have trouble keeping a straight face at times - and those were long pauses - or was that directed also? hmmmmmmmmmm.
Another barely noticed Labohn touch is his strict instructions that the cast hold its pose until the curtain is all the way down - something even the Broadway pros seem to forget.
Doreen Rallo, Bobbi Green - girls will be boys!
This is the president of the Doctor's Fund, Joanne Tavis? (photo by Jeannie)
A DIFERENT KIND OF STYLE
You've either got or you haven't got style lip synched very UN-stylish, crotch-grabbing hip hopping boys from the 'hood: Bobbie, Doreen & Joanne
Now what is Joan Van Ness going to do with this Margo Doll?
FASHION CUT UPS & CUT OUTS
Joan Van Ness as she puts a new spin on the old favorite "Paper Doll" (The Mills Brothers never imagined this), dressing up cupie doll, bug-eyed Margo.
Is there no pleasing this Donna?
IF THE SHOE FITS - poor Roger, Bobbie, Doreen and Joanne tried to please the demanding Donna who knows "High Heels Make the Lady" 'till she ultimately donned some hot red platform shoes to match her red sequined sheath and, yes, they did make a difference
Coco, just a country girl!
THE WELL DRESSED FARMER'S DAUGHTER, Coco Love, who is the new Homecoming Queen and now new performer in the roster of stars in this show - who actually did come from a farm - you've come a long way, baby!
The Scintillating Shapiro Sisters Set the Style!!!
"OLD FASHIONED" ADVICE - FINALLY, The Shapiro Sisters appeared and reached way back into the glam of old Hollywood turning in their signature red hair for the blond curls of a Betty Grable Dolly Sisters number extolling the virtues of Mascara, Powder and lipstick, each with a special headdress of its own. And these girls certainly know how to use it. Marvelous!
Cobra's sign language
A WORD TO THE WISE ... ACCESSORIZE
I must take this moment to comment on the ever expanding, increasingly complexity of Cobra's sign girl role into which she can incorporate a million expressions as she sidles across stage from haute contempt for the inevitable heckler (Panzi, each year and it always get s to her) to subtle flirting with others in the audience, takes her time, and has finally conquered her exits (a tough squeeze into the wings in front of the curtain) though the suspense each time is hilarious. This fuelled by the constant backgound runway music.
Charity, a jewel among jewels
Charity took her advice accessorizing with Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend and nobody wears them better.
Margo - the NEW Second Hand Rose
THRIFT SHOP CHIC - Ah! Margo as a NEW Second Hand Rose. How refreshing! And in better voice too.
Joan, Sylvia, Lola thinking pink
SYLVIA SAYS COLOR IT CHIC - Who can forget that marvelously manic number Think Pink from the movies - well, Donald nailed it as he wrangled his herd of dainties in varying shades of Pink - from the prom queen Lola to the really ultra, surprisingly simple ( and elegant with those Long Legs ), Urban in a pink tennis skirt. Of course Sylvia declared about pink "I wouldn't be caught dead in it!"..
Roger, Gary, Bobby - even the film melted
BASIC BLACK WITHOUT THE PEARLS as Roger Cortez, Gary & Bobby scorched the stage with Temptation. The black was dominator leather and Gary lent new meaning to the lyrics: "I'm just a slave". His obvious enjoyment of the role was very revealing (Luisa?)
Dan, Dan the Piano Man
The extremely likeable Dan Daly entranced the crowd with a specially written marathon song Fashion is a Passion with ever increasing velocity he addressed all aspects of the subject unfazed by mouthfuls of tongue twisters.
Joanne & Lois Pisano in a surprise appearance
Le Grande Finale
A LOOK FOR EVERY OCCASION
Mirroring the fireworks that preceded the performance the entire cast came out in a fashion parade to Beautiful Girl culminating, as do many fashion shows, with a wedding pair, Joanne, President of the Doctor's fund and her companion the lovely, lithe Lois, a applause inspiring surprise to all (later she confided she does not like the spotlight) looking ravishing in white lace bridal gown. With each crossover as the dresses kept coming the applause swelled in appreciation as the mammoth effort of the show culminated in this extraordinary pageant!
After the show in his curtain speech Labohn offered "I tried to do a big show on a small stage in Cherry's now the Arts Project has afforded me the opportunity to given an even larger show on a large stage....to do this show you have to be talented, giving, and , mostly demented" Ever generous, Labohn thanked "the army that goes into producing this show" - : Light & Sound - Matt Baney, Allison Brockman, Michael Romanelli, Craig Williams, Stage Manager - Arther Cohen, Stage Crew - Peg Ryan, Sets & Props- Harold Seeley, Hairstyles & Makeup - Richard Cooley. Ticket sales David Bullock, Jane Haber, Tim Webster, Ushers - Gimmi & Marianne Hoffa, Theater curator Denise Dell Harbin, Video - Bradshaw Smith , Program - Robert Ferri and, the best, Custodial Goddess - Luisa Verde (only in the Grove, folks)..."there is always a surprise in every show" and this year it was the trophy given by the Doctors Fund to Donald for his extraordinary effort these past ten years
Backstage Donna Piranha was looking for a new place to sign her name on the wall, Charity applied more makeup others changed into varying degrees of drag as they toddled toward Meryl & Lois' new establishment, the Tides. Restaurant, bar, cabaret, theater complex where they were rewarded with excellent food and drink.
Editor's note:I remember the first time I came to cover the show at Cherry's. Producers Meryl & Lois had no idea about press protocol and looked at me as if I were crazy when I asked for my press seat - so I squeezed between two people at the bar and stood through the entire performance. After 5 minutes I wasn't even aware of standing (except taking notes was impossible) because I recognized that what I was seeing was extraordinary. I don't remember who was in the tiny cast but when the Shapiro Sisters performed Roumania, Roumania to the Barry Sisters' recording my entire heritage flashed across my eyes. Years later when an actual Barry sister was there by some miracle of show business there was hardly a dry eye in the house. I remember the first time I saw Charity and her energy and high spirits infused the room (I always remember Charity) and the sheer perfection of Randy & Gianna. The next time, once again, there was no seat - I had been told to get there an hour ahead, yes, that was how it was in the tiny place if you wanted a seat for the already smash show, but water taxis screwed up (what else is new), and there was no room for me when I got there. This time they let me sit on the floor at Lorraine's feet while the waitresses stepped over me and Lorraine kept jumping up in front of me to get her pictures. I couldn't have cared because I simply HAD to see the show - It was a great personal joy and relief to me when the show moved to the Community House and people actually had seats!
What can one say about the behind the scenes people - Matt, Arthur, et al - calm and professional, tackling complicated light cues, sound problems, backstage traffic, props, quickslver costume changes in the wings. The essence of their jobs is to be invisible - you never notice them unless there is a glitch -totally without ego they are all happy with their jobs. Donald said it best ' "you bring us to life". Thanks so much to photog Gillian Crosson who helps illustrate what you can do in cyberspace that you can't do in print. I was preparing to reluctantly divorce myself from the Grove community. A big hug from APCG President Ceejay Rosen started my meltdown and the wonder of this show, above all others, with all my friends in it, brought me back to the glory of this community. ....................................................Jeanne Lieberman
All I can say is 10 MORE YEARS
Cobra Shines sans Sign (photo by Jeannie)
Charity puttin' on the glitz (photo by Jeannie)