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REAF Newsletter

10 August 2007

The stars aligned perfectly for one spectacular gala event on Sunday, August 5th at the Palace of Fine Arts with one show stopping act after another at this summer's "Help is on the Way XIII Goes to the Movies." The opening act began with Sarah Lowe, film icon Ruby Keeler's granddaughter, dancing in sync with her famous grandmother by video behind her to the title song from 42nd Street and was followed by 35 more tap dancing wizards joining Sarah for an all-out tap extravaganza.

Video was included in many numbers in this year's big gala which included a clip of Audrey Hepburn singing the title song from "Moon River" followed by International Ballroom Dance champions Cate Caplin and Gary Franco in a beautiful pas de deux of the same song. Broadway/TV star Valarie Pettiford also danced a lovely and moving duet with Cyd Charisse via a video performance from the film "Band Wagon" and American Idol star Kimberley Locke paid tribute to both Jeannette McDonald and Judy Garland with her rendition of "San Francisco."

Lucy Lawless fans screamed their approval of her rendition of "Footloose" and Marissa Jaret Winokur showed why she was the original 'Tracy' in "Hairspray" with "Good Morning Baltimore." Jai Rodriguez's rendition of "And I Am Telling You" from "Dreamgirls" showed that you don't have to be black diva to tear the roof down with that song. The boys' got unbelievable pipes. Susan Anton continued to wow our audiences with her rendition of "Better Than Ever" (which she is) and Raül Esparza showed us why he was nominated for a Tony Award with his slightly bluesy "God Give Me Strength." Ol' Blue Eyes might want to take note of the new "Blue Eyes" on the scene crooning the standards. Joey McIntosh always had rhythm when he started out as the youngest of the New Kids on the Block but he's just released a new CD of standards in showing he's more than a pretty boy pop star – not that there's anything wrong with that… Bruce Vilanch, Mary Jo Catlett, Carole Cook and Jason Graae provided some great comedy moments while the four stars of JERSEY BOYS brought the house down with their "Macho Man Medley" – a rather poor quality version is also now on You Tube.

Broadway stars Andrew Samonsky and BD Wong both showed us what put them on Broadway and Connie Champagne took us on ride on the Trolley with The Trolley Song. But perhaps the most moving moment of the night was when Bruce Vilanch reminded us of why were all there by asking us to remember those who we've lost to AIDS and the cast of JERSEY BOYS offered up a moving "Seasons of Love" from Rent. That was just the show. There were the parties before and after… Elvis and Marilyn were there. So was Austin Powers, Charlie Chaplin and Clint Eastwood. It was THE place to be – dead or alive.