The space will be christened with Soiree Parisienne, a cabaret revue starring Beechman's sister, Claudia, Sept. 18-21.
This newly renovated intimate cabaret space is named for Beechman, a big-voiced singer and actress who appeared in several major Broadway shows, including Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, for which she received 1982 Tony Award and Drama Desk nominations. She died in 1998 after a battle with cancer. There is also a New York City cabaret theatre, The Laurie Beechman Theater, in the lower level of the West Bank Café on 42nd Street.
Beechman also appeared as Grizabella in Cats and Fantine in Les Miserables on Broadway, and she was the original Star to Be in the "N.Y.C." showstopper in Annie. Beechman also sang at President Bill Clinton's 1997 Inauguration.
Soiree Parisienne features the talents of guest chanteuse Claudia Beechman, Laurie Beechman's sister and a singer well-known in the Philadelphia area for her performances of French chanson. She has appeared at Act II Playhouse, Plays and Players, and Odette's in New Hope, PA, and her distinctive performance style is heard on her two CDs, "Souvenirs de Paris" and "The Grand Legrand." She is also heard on her sister's CD, "No One Is Alone."
The company also includes Jamison Foreman, this year's recipient of the Laurie Beechman Memorial Scholarship, given annually to a distinguished senior in the Musical Theater Program at The University of the Arts. The three other students nominated for this year's Beechman Scholarship — Brad Greer, Kristen Norine and Janet Rowley — appear in the program as well. Soiree Parisienne is produced and directed by Charles Gilbert, interim director of the The University of the Arts School of Theater Arts, with music direction by Claudia Beechman's longtime accompanist, Tom Baust.
The Laurie Beechman Memorial Scholarship was established in 1999 by the actress' mother, Dolly Beechman Schnall, and her husband, Dr. Nathan Schnall, along with Laurie's sisters Claudia and Jane and their families and friends. The Beechman and Schnall families have been supporters of The University of the Arts and its Musical Theater Program for the past decade, and their generosity played a major role in the renovation of the Laurie Beechman Cabaret Theater. Dr. and Mrs. Schnall will be in attendance when the theatre is dedicated at the gala opening performance of Soiree Parisienne on Sept. 18.
A Philadelphia theatre icon, Dolly Schnall is this year's recipient of a special Barrymore Award from the Theater Alliance of Greater Philadelphia for her many contributions to the Philadelphia theatre community.
The opening night is sold out, but tickets for the other performances can be purchased online at https://uarts-theater.ticketleap.com. Reservations can be made by phone at (215) 717-6499 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Performances are 8 PM Thursday, Sept. 19 through Sunday, Sept. 21, with 2 PM matinee performances Sept. 20-21.
The Laurie Beechman Cabaret Theater is located in the Philadelphia Arts Bank, 601 S. Broad Street, Philadelphia.
According to University of the Arts, "The Laurie Beechman Cabaret Theatre is a state–of-the-art cabaret performance space, with intimate seating and modern décor. It will host a number of events throughout the calendar year, including The University of the Arts Musical Theatre Senior Cabaret in November 2008. The Laurie Beechman Cabaret Theatre is one of two newly inaugurated performance venues to the School of Theatre Arts: The Studio Theater in the Ronald and Ellen Caplan Center for the Performing Arts, located on the 16th floor of the Terra Building, was unveiled with the School of Theater Arts production of Court Martial at Fort Devens earlier this month."
The University of the Arts is the nation's first and only university dedicated to the visual, performing and communication arts. Its 2,300 students are enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs on its campus in the heart of Philadelphia's Avenue of the Arts. The institution's roots as a leader in educating creative individuals date back to 1868.