As previously announced, Tony Award nominee Robin De Jesús Elizabeth Stanley, Kathy Voytko, Kate Wetherhead and more will populate the hourlong 7 PM performance at Ars Nova on West 54th Street. Proceeds support the non-profit ASTEP/Artists Striving to End Poverty, which is producing the performance.
The presentation has musical direction by ASTEP founder and Drama Desk Award winner Mary-Mitchell Campbell (Broadway's The Addams Family, Company, Sweeney Todd and more), and will spotlight JR Bruno (Broadway's West Side Story, regional premiere of [title of show]), Chris Hoch (Broadway's Shrek, La Cage aux Folles), Jeff Award winner Cindy Marchionda (Kiss of the Spider Woman in Chicago, The Wizard of Oz at Madison Square Garden) and Sally Wilfert (Off-Broadway's Make Me a Song, Broadway's Assassins, La Jolla Playhouse's Little Miss Sunshine). This core foursome is joined by the announced guest artists.
De Jesús played cousin Sonny in Broadway's In the Heights and Jacob in La Cage aux Folles; Wetherhead appeared in Off-Broadway's Cam Jansen and Sarah, Plain and Tall, and co-created the webseries "Submissions Only"; Stanley was April in the most recent Broadway Company and starred in Cry-Baby and Million Dollar Quartet; Voytko was the most recent touring Eva Peron for director Harold Prince, and was in the Broadway cast of Next to Normal and The Frogs.
Jeff Talbott (the playwright-actor whose The Submission bows this fall at MCC Theater) directs. Aaron Elgart is stage manager.
Naughty/Nice, written by lyricist Kenneth Jones and composer Gerald Stockstill, was first seen in a sold-out ASTEP benefit concert at The Players Theatre in Greenwich Village, and in later industry readings (at which time the show was called Dear Santa.) The show is not recommended for children, and has been billed in the past as a sort of Avenue Q meets ...Spelling Bee meets "A Charlie Brown Christmas." Naughty/Nice was a membership-recommended finalist in the National Alliance for Musical Theatre's Festival of New Musicals in 2009, and helped the writers win the 2010 Dottie Burman Songwriting Award from the Manhattan Association of Cabarets and Clubs (MAC). The show is written for four adult performers and a piano; the cast has been expanded for this special ASTEP concert.
"We designed the show as an affectionate throwback to those old shoestring-budget Greenwich Village musical revues from the 1950s and '60s that were spare and satiric and sharply funny, but with a big heart and lots of melody," Stockstill told Playbill.com.
For more information about the script and score, email DearSantaMusical@aol.com.
Jones & Stockstill met in the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop and are members of BMI. Their work has been heard at Joe's Pub, The Zipper Theatre, the Laurie Beechman Theatre and the Metropolitan Room, and on a Sh-K-Boom recording "New York City Christmas," to benefit ASTEP.
Stockstill's musical Food on the Aisle (written with Donna Kaz) was seen in the New York Musical Theatre Festival, and Too Good to Be True (written with Amy Coady) was presented in a Kansas City workshop/reading. Jones wrote book and lyrics for the musical Voice of the City, with music by Elaine Chelton, which received a workshop/reading by the Human Race Theatre Company in Dayton, OH.
Ars Nova is at 511 W. 54th Street. Tickets for the dress-casual, book-in-hand concert are $20 each. All artists are volunteering their talent, and 100 percent of the money raised supports ASTEP's programs to serve children in need.
To make a Naughty/Nice reservation, email firstname.lastname@example.org; your name will be added to the reservation list (cash or check at the door). Seating for the 7 PM show is general admission, and seating is strictly limited.
ASTEP, the nonprofit organization that "uses the arts as a tool to foster creativity, teach life skills, and awaken young people's imaginations around the world," has a history of staging benefit shows that spotlight emerging talent.
According to its mission, "ASTEP builds a child's capacity for self expression through art programs which inspire youth to develop the voices and skills they need inside and outside the classroom. By connecting established and emerging artists with underserved youth, ASTEP uses the arts as a tool to foster creativity, teach life skills, and awaken young people's imaginations. Since 2003, ASTEP has partnered with community organizations to deliver after-school, holiday, and summer programs grounded in arts education curriculum. In addition to inspiring a passion for learning and leadership building, programs focus on social issues specific to each community such as HIV/AIDS, gang violence, drug abuse, gender equality, and teen pregnancy. ASTEP provides services to communities in New York, NY; Homestead, FL; and Bangalore, India."
If you are interested in volunteering or donating to ASTEP, visit www.asteponline.org.