Former Met Prospect Karen Hartman Brings Opera-Themed Musical Comedy to NYC Fringe Fest

Classic Arts Features   Former Met Prospect Karen Hartman Brings Opera-Themed Musical Comedy to NYC Fringe Fest
Dancing With Abandon, a new "rock 'n' opera" musical comedy about an opera diva whose abandoned rocker son resurfaces, gets its world premiere at the New York International Fringe Festival (through Aug. 29).


Sandy Binion, whose powerful voice helped make Off-Broadway's Make Me a Song vocally exciting, stars as Alice Silverstein, the so-called "Oprah of Opera," who hits rock bottom when her crazed, abandoned son returns to moon her at the Kennedy Center Honors.

The "wild and zany love story that touches on the issues of abandonment and the price of fame" is "a unique fusion of traditional opera and rock" with music by Karen Hartman, and lyrics and book by Hartman & Phil Lebovits.

Performances play Dixon Place in the Lower East Side.

Binion also appeared in Broadway's Jane Eyre and the national tour of Sunset Boulevard.

Composer and co-writer Hartman told, "I was a winner in the Metropolitan Opera Auditions. Can't make a living in opera so I had to bring opera 'down,' so to speak and went on to do stand-up-up-opera-and-rock in a show called Diva Takes a Dive, winning the title of funniest woman in America at Carolines in Manhattan.

"Dancing With Abandon is loosely based on Phil's (my co-writer and co-lyricist) true stories of abandon. But both being comedic writers we are able to squeeze laughter out of the most solemn of subjects. That's how we survive!

"The music is a unique fusion of rock and opera but is not an opera, it is pure musical theatre and one of the characters happens to be an opera singer. The serious issues of abandonment are told with lots of comedy that will have you laughing one minute and crying in the next. Audiences can expect to walk out of the theatre humming a song or two."

"One of the exciting things for me in this piece is that I'm using a part of my voice that I haven't used in years," Binion told "It's all that upper range that I used to use when I was doing opera. It's not the belty Binion that we had in Make Me a Song. It's been really fun to exercise that part of my voice."

Also featured in the production are Cindy Benson, Danny Beiruti, Zachary Clause, Natalie Charl_ Ellis (as the younger Alice), Jonathan Andrew Kline, Karla Mosley and Ronica V. Reddick.

The production team includes director Jeremy Dobrish (Off-Broadway's Election Day), music director and arranger Mark Hartman (Avenue Q), choreographer Vince Pesce (Cinderella starring Lea Salonga), executive producer Tom Smedes (Ace, the Musical), scenic designer Jonathan Collins, costume designer Brenda Abbandandolo, lighting designer Michael Gottlieb, sound designer Michael Eisenberg, props designer Eve Weinberg, casting by Mark Simon, production stage manager Andrea Jo Martin, general manager Michael Roderick, and associate director Amanda Haley.

Dixon Place is at 161A Chrystie Street (Rivington & Delancey Streets) on the Lower East Side.

Performer play Aug. 23 at noon, Aug. 24 at 9:30 PM, Aug. 26 at 10 PM, Aug. 27 at 10:30 PM and Aug. 29 at 10:30 PM.

For tickets, visit For more information, visit


Dancing With Abandon is produced by Tom Smedes Productions, Small Pond Entertainment, & Mark Hess Productions.

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