Hensley, Zambello, Gets, Brescia, Somerville Will Celebrate Skylight Opera in NYC Concert

News   Hensley, Zambello, Gets, Brescia, Somerville Will Celebrate Skylight Opera in NYC Concert
New York City-based showfolk with a connection to Skylight Opera Theatre — the Milwaukee Equity troupe that had a highly-publicized administrative shakeup over the summer — are putting on a benefit show for the organization devoted to operas and musicals. Tony Award winner Shuler Hensley, director Francesca Zambello and actor Malcolm Gets are in the mix.

Billed as The Sky Is Not Falling, the concert will be presented 8 PM Oct. 5 at St. Luke's Theatre at 308 W. 46th Street, off Eighth Avenue.

Appearing among 25 artists will be Hensley (Young Frankenstein, Oklahoma!); stage, television and film star Gets (The Story of My Life, Amour, "Caroline in the City"); opera and Broadway director (and former Skylight artistic director) Zambello (The Little Mermaid, Little House on the Prairie); Lisa Brescia (Wicked, Aida); The Lion King's Nathaniel Stampley; and Billy Elliot's Joel Hatch.

Expect an eclectic mix of music from the opera, operetta and musical theatre repertoire, matching Skylight's mission.

Hensley, a Tony and Olivier award winner for his performance as Jud in Oklahoma!, performed in three separate productions at the Skylight early in his career: The Magic Flute, The Most Happy Fella and as Curly in Oklahoma! Zambello, an internationally recognized director of opera and musical theatre, was co-artistic director of the Skylight from 1985 to 1990.

The concert will feature new music by composers Schmidt (a Milwaukee native who penned the musicals Adding Machine and A Minister's Wife), James Valcq (The Spitfire Grill, Zombies from the Beyond), Mark Adamo (Little Women, Lysistrata or the Nude Goddess), Josh Rosenblum (Bush is Bad, Garbo and Me) and Brett Ryback (Darling). Valcq is a Milwaukee native whose The Spitfire Grill (lyric and book by Fred Alley) was both a critical and commercial success for Playwrights Horizons in 2001 and has gone on to become one of the most often-produced new American musicals (including an appearance at Skylight). Also participating will be tenor William Burden, who has appeared in many prestigious opera houses, including the Metropolitan Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Glimmerglass Opera and New York City Opera.

Actress Phyllis Somerville, whose most prominent role was as the mother in Todd Field's acclaimed film "Little Children," will also perform. Somerville made her Broadway debut in the musical Over Here in 1974, and originated the role of Hannah in the Off-Broadway production of The Spitfire Grill, reprising that role at the Skylight in 2002.

The evening will also include performances by Skylight alumni Tari Kelly (Broadway's The Boy From Oz, The Grinch and Show Boat), Benjamin Howes (Broadway's [title of show]), Jennifer Swiderski (tours of The Drowsy Chaperone, Smokey Joe's Café), Tom Ford (Broadway's By Jeeves), Niffer Clarke (Off-Broadway's Adding Machine: A Musical), Branch Woodman (Broadway's Bye Bye Birdie, Crazy for You), Benjamin Cannon (Broadway's The Lion King), former Skylight artistic director Richard Carsey (musical director of Little House on the Prairie), Wendy Hill (New York City Opera), Brandon Wood (New York City Opera), Danielle Hermon, Katie Sina, Michael Deleget, Chris Briggs Young, Liz Baltes, Malkia Stampley, Kate McCann, Joanne Lessner and more.

According to a statement from the organizers, "This summer, the Skylight experienced a series of events that left it wounded and struggling artistically and financially, beginning with the decision to eliminate, for fiscal reasons, the position of artistic director. Through an unprecedented coming together of the artistic community — many of whom put their livelihoods on the line to express their resolve — and a board of directors who weathered difficult decisions with an unending determination to not allow the company to fail, this beloved institution embarks on its 50th Anniversary season with a renewed sense of commitment and support.

"But the company's financial difficulties remain, and in an attempt to help the Skylight Board raise funds, the artists have rallied. On Oct. 5, we will salute the Skylight Opera Theatre — the artists who took a stand and the organization that listened — and how they came together to make a difference. Because art matters."

Tickets are $35 and can be purchased through Telecharge by calling (800) 432-7250 or visiting telecharge.com, or through St. Luke's Theatre by calling (212) 246-8140 or by visiting the Box Office at 308 W. 46th St.

All proceeds from ticket sales and any additional donations are tax deductible and go directly to the Skylight Opera Theatre, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

For more information, visit skyisnotfalling.googlepages.com.

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