One of the desert’s most colorful celebrities, Michael Childers, has done it again. Last week’s “One Night Only” all-star performance posted its “sold out” sign for the 10th straight year. It was held at the spacious 1127-seat McCallum Theater, enabling it to raise support for Jewish Family Service of the Desert, which annually serves over 4,000 local men, women and children in need. JFS provides its many services year round, regardless of age, income, religion or any factor other than need. JFS is also the largest provider of social services to the Jewish community of those in need in the Coachella Valley.
The event’s dynamic co-chairs were newly inducted JFS Board President Barbara Fromm and Terri Ketover, who thanked their honorary co-chairs Annette Bloch, Helene Galen, Barbara Keller and Harold Matzner for their “hard work and on-going support.”
The ONO event not only holds a throne of its own as entertainment, but as a superbly organized and profitable fundraising event. It attracts many of the same supporters year after year because it is brilliantly different every year.
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
I remember the first One-Night-Only, when Childers joked that he had produced the entire show just by “picking up my Rolodex and calling a few friends.”
Those friends, fortunately, had enough Broadway, film, TV and Las Vegas credentials to fill any theater. Within a few days, Childers had signed enough star-studded volunteer performers to fill the show AND were willing to work for nothing more than a joyous Palm Springs weekend of parties and show-biz comradery. What’s more, they were so skilled, they needed only one rehearsal to pull it all together.
Each of this show’s two dozen performers sang one of Stephen Sondheim’s love songs, ranging from “some of the lesser known to the Sondheim hits to his wonderful comedy numbers.” The three most-applauded songs were “Send In The Clowns” performed by Christine Andreas; “Another Hundred Lyrics,” by Liz Callaway and “Losing My Mind” by Marilyn Maye. The loudest laughs went to “Broadway Baby,” sung, danced and clowned by Lee Roy Reams.
Among the most powerful “there goes the roof” performances were Davis Gaines’ rendition of “Being Alive” and (again) Marilyn Mayes “Losing My Mind.”
Other favorites included the trio of Brian Childers, Jason Graae and Hunter Ryan Herdlicka’s collaboration on “You Could Drive A Person Crazy, ” and Barb Jungr’s “What Can You Lose?”
THE LUCIE TOUCH
Lucie Arnaz is obviously a born professional and, as Director, she proved it every three minutes with her perfect timing and balance. Lucie also performed in a charming number, “You Must Meet My Wife” with Patrick Cassidy.
Her split-second timing presented 24 performers in 90 breathtaking minutes, with no intermission.
Kudos for Music Director John McDaniel with his 13 piece orchestra with his beautiful arrangements and sensuous sound of the Sondheim hits.
Barry Manilow, who was in attendance, was overheard to remark: “A perfect night! I didn’t expect such a perfect night. I loved every minute of it. I wish it had gone on longer.”
Helene Galen sponsored a huge private cast party at her home the evening before the show, which she hosted with Jamie Kabler.
Barbara Keller, who, with husband Jerry, helped underwrite the catering of the after party on the Eisenhower medical campus, said, “Sondheim in Love gracefully epitomized elegance and pizzazz, with just the perfect smattering of humor.”
“Superbly produced by Michael Childers and directed by Lucie Arnaz. Another magnificent One Night Only,” said Barbara Fromm.
“I’ve never been so utterly entertained at any one show” said the recently returned Dr. Mona Khanna, whom many will remember from the “Ask Doctor Mona” show on channel 2, some 15 years ago.
The Angel Sponsors were Nina & Robert Wernick, the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, and Union Bank.
Show’s executive producer Ken Katz received dozens of well-earned raves during an after party, hosted by JFS at the Annenberg Center for Health Sciences at Eisenhower Medical Center. JFS provides mental health counseling, substance abuse prevention education, senior care and other services to more than 4,000 individuals and families each year, including counseling and education services to 2,000 children in local elementary schools.
For more information on JFS, phone 760-325-4088 or visit www.jfsdesert.org