Audience real winner at 'Broadway' Benefit
Portland Press Herald, June 9, 2003
By Steve Feeney
A wealth of talent graced the stage of the St. Lawrence Arts Center on Saturday night in a benefit for the center and the nonprofit Good Theater Company that performs there.
Six dynamic Broadway stars were joined by four local singers in a program of solo, duo, and group numbers predominantly from the Great White Way but also including a bit of opera and spiritual music.
Anchoring the proceedings, both by the power of their voices and by their sheer physical size, were two baritones who later this year will be working with the Portland Symphony Orchestra. George Merritt and Raymond Jaramillo McLeod commanded attention several tunes taken from musicals in which they starred. Merritt brought humor to the rhythmic complexity of "A Handful of Keys" from "Ain't Misbehavin'," accompanied by Beth Barefoot-Jones on the piano, and later joined McLeod for a spirited version of "Your Feet's Too Big" from the same play. Merritt also offered a striking take on "Wheels of a Dream" from "Ragtime," a piece that seemed made for his talents.
McLeod created real drama with a melancholy tune from "Shenandoah" and shook the rafters of the high ceilinged former church hall with an Italian aria. He and show host Brian P. Allen exchanged quips and generally personalized the performance in a way that garnered a warm response from the capacity $100-a-seat crowd.
Though Allen did a great job as master of ceremonies, it still would have been nice to have a basic printed program for the jam-packed show.
Lynne Wintersteller mounted a stool for a funny, poignant version of "I'm Not Complaining" from "Closer Than Ever," a show she starred in off-Broadway. Her intimate style artfully dramatized the song's clever take on relationships. Wintersteller later joined with husband Mark McGrath for a Stephen Sondheim tune that also touched on the difficulties couples face.
Teri Hansen and Kip Wilborn, another wife-and-husband team, reprised a Bocelli/Brightman hit. Hansen, in a striking blue sequined gown, also sang a compelling version of "Bill" from "Showboat."
Among the locals, Bethann Renaud took the audience on a familiar but always welcome journey "Over the Rainbow" while Kelly Caufield sang about a very moving little "Meadowlark." Steve Underwood sat at the piano for an original tune in a flowing personal style and Jennifer McLeod pulled out all the stops for a performance of a Puccini aria that merited the lengthy applause it received. All came on stage for a rousing close highlighted by a heartfelt version of "Amazing Grace."
The good cause of this benefit drew exceptional professional artists to the stage and they gave it their all in an inspired evening of vocal music.
A once in a life-time concert event!
Proceeds to benefit the
St. Lawrence Arts & Community Center & Good Theater
Six Broadway stars will lend their amazing voices to some of Broadways
greatest songs to raise money for these two organizations.
Teri Hansen -
Show Boat, The Boys From Syracuse
Mark McGrath -
The Scarlet Pimpernel, The Three Musketeers, Little Me
Raymond Jaramillo McLeod -
Dance of the Vampires, Jekyll & Hyde, Evita
George Merritt -
Jekyll & Hyde, Porgy & Bess, Big River, Ain't Misbehavin'
Kip Wilborn -
The Phantom of the Opera, Street Scene
Lynne Wintersteller -
Some Enchanted Evening, Closer Than Ever, Nunsense
FOUR Good Theater Favorites!
Kelly Caufield Jennifer McLeod, Bethann Renaud, Stephen Underwood
Musical Director Beth Barefoot-Jones
Conceived & Directed by Brian P. Allen
* Member Actors' Equity Association