2012-05-04 / Community News

‘Best of Broadway’ hits Merrill stage

Scarborough residents direct annual event
By Michael Kelley
Staff Writer


Steve Filieo, left, looks on as Beth Barefoot leads the Best of Broadway cast in a rehearsal of “Once Upon a Time” from the Broadway musical “All American.” The Best of Broadway, an annual fundraiser for the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital, is taking place May 12 at Merrill Auditorium in Portland. (Michael Kelley photo) Steve Filieo, left, looks on as Beth Barefoot leads the Best of Broadway cast in a rehearsal of “Once Upon a Time” from the Broadway musical “All American.” The Best of Broadway, an annual fundraiser for the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital, is taking place May 12 at Merrill Auditorium in Portland. (Michael Kelley photo) You don’t have to go to New York City to experience the best of what Broadway has to offer. Next weekend, on May 12, Merrill Auditorium in Portland will play host to Best of Broadway, an annual fundraiser for the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center that features local singers and dancers.

The annual event started in 1992 as a benefit for the Maine chapter of the American Diabetes Association and has been directed for the past 20 years by Scarborough residents Steve and Jane Filieo.

“It’s a one night only gala performance of local talent – some of the top talent in the state,” Steve Filieo said.

This year’s performance, which opens with “Be Our Guest” from “Beauty and the Beast”, features Scott Furrow, Larry Jones, Kammy Marcotte, Briggon Marcotte-Snow, Jennifer McLeod, Marilyn Minsky Melton, Bethann Reaud, Tim Salce, Karen Stickney and John York, the dancers from Maine State Ballet, Portland Ballet, Studio for the Living Arts, as well as Katey Yoder and Josh Hilberman.

“There’s a variety of styles of music,” Filieo said. “We try to create a balance between ballads, upbeat classics and contemporary. There is something for everybody.”

Many of the songs that will be performed at the concert, which begins at 7:30 p.m., are reprisals from previous years, including “Once Upon a Time” from “All American;” “On Broadway,” “I’m a Woman,” and “Stand By Me” from “Smokey Joe’s Café;” “Nobody’s Perfect,” from “I Do! I Do!;” “I Know Where I’ve Been” from “Hairspray;” and “Circle of Life” from “Lion King.” Songs from “She Loves Me,” “Chicago,” “Ragtime” “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” “Kiss Me Kate” and “Jekyll and Hyde” will also be performed.

The hardest part of preparing for the annual performance, Filieo said, is choosing the songs to perform. It is not uncommon, he added, for him and the other directors to consider 100 different musical numbers before coming up with a final list of 25 that will be performed.

The goal every year, he said, is to create a program that appeals to as many audience members as possible, even those who are not fans of musicals.

“Even if you are not a Broadway fan, there is always music from Broadway that you have heard before. There are a lot of songs that you are familiar with that you didn’t know was from a Broadway show,” Filieo said.

Filieo said he and his wife got involved with directing the show in 1993, shortly before it began benefiting the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital in 1997.

“We are really honored to have the opportunity to work with such great talent. They put in a lot of hard work. It’s really exciting for us to have an opportunity to be a part of this and do what we can to help out,” Filieo said.

It was a love of Broadway music that got Scarborough resident Marilyn Melton involved with Best of Broadway 10 years ago.

“I love Broadway music. It is definitely a love of mine. I get to New York at least once a year. I’ve seem a lot of shows,” said Melton, who has done work with Lyric Music Theater and Portland Players in South Portland, City Theater in Biddeford, Good Theater in Portland and Maine State Ballet.

Melton, a teacher at the East End Community School in Portland, said she has met some of her best friends through the show.

“One of the best things about this is you are performing with a bunch of people who share your passion. The average person I hang out with isn’t into Broadway music,” she said. “I consider these people another family of mine.”

Kim Block, one of the show’s hosts and a newscaster on WGME – which has sponsored the show since it first began – said the event has turned into a great tradition that many people, herself included, look forward to.

“We are really lucky to have this level of talent and people who truly care about making a difference for the children and their families. They bring so much passion to not just their performances, but to the commitment to the cause. The night is magical,” Block said. “It’s been an honor and privilege for me to be involved. I look forward to it every year.”

Ray Dumont, who is choreographing five songs in this year’s performance, said Best of Broadway is the perfect way to showcase local talent while benefiting a worthy cause.

“It’s the ideal fundraiser. Its successful in raising money and its great entertainment,” Dumont said.

Dumont, a resident of Portland, said he saw the important role the children’s hospital plays when his nephews, born premature, were cared for in the hospital.

“That place saved them. I feel like I owe it to them to do this. I owe it to the hospital. They work so hard there. It’s a great place,” Dumont said.

Melton also saw this impact when her daughter spent time in the hospital several years back.

“It really gave me a perspective on the cause we are doing this for. It is an amazing place,” Melton said.

Staff Writer Michael Kelley can be reached at 282-4337, ext. 237.

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