One Day, One Stage, Three Shows: Theatre Jacksonville’s Splendid Benefit

Jacksonville’s San Marco Square was jumping for joy on Saturday, October 13, 2018. In addition to three fabulous shows staged to benefit Theatre Jacksonville in preparation for its 100th season (2019-2020), San Marco had a party celebrating the 21st birthday of the 3 Lions stature in the Square. Theatre Jax’s theme was “One Day, One Stage, Three Shows,” with single tickets available for each show.

“Show and Tell,” the opener at 2:00 pm, featured the art and wit of New York’s celebrity caricaturist Ken Fallen. Ken lived in Jacksonville during his early years, where he appeared in three musicals at Theatre Jax; his last role was that of Frump in the 1967 production of “How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying.” He moved to New York hoping for a life in the spotlight on Broadway, but rethought his career path once he experienced the formidable obstacles.

Instead, he found success as a talented pen and ink illustrator for the satirical musical “Forbidden Broadway” in 1983, and his involvement with the show continued for many years. Subsequent work included work for numerous Broadway and corporate clients, magazines, and newspapers – notably the Wall Street Journal. His pen and ink portraits are now instantly recognizable.

Fallen used a large screen to display many photos, sketches, and portraits to illustrate his discussion of his career, which included a number of anecdotes related to his encounters with celebrities. His polished presentation kept the audience enthralled.

At 4:30, Sarah Boone, Theatre Jacksonville’s Executive Director, presented “Hollywood Blondes,” a cabaret show which she has performed in New York and Los Angeles. Sarah previously worked in theatre management positions in Los Angeles and New York after graduating from Florida State University and receiving an MA degree in Arts Management and Communications at American University, then returned to Jacksonville, her hometown, to manage the historic Theatre Jacksonville.

“Hollywood Blondes” was a show conceived by Ms. Boone and was a captivating trip down memory lane for young and old alike. She researched and presented a history of film stars famous for their singing, and belted out some of those songs with her superb soprano voice.

Singers and famous songs in this tribute included Alice Faye – “You’ll Never Know,” Ginger Rogers – “We’re in the Money,” Shirley Jones – “Till There was You,” and Deborah Reynolds – “Aba Daba Honeymoon,” to name just few. Did you know that Doris Day recorded over 600 hundred songs? Ms. Boone was accompanied on the piano by New York based Eugene Gwozdz. He was also the musical director, with Chris Agar on bass and Stefan Klein on drums. The show was directed by Jean Tait.

The final show at 7:30 pm (which we were unable to attend due to a previous commitment) featured Linda Purl in “Midnight Caravan.” She is a jazz singer who lives and works in New York. She has appeared in over 45 made-for-TV movies and can be seen on screen as Charlene Matlock on Matlock and Ashley Pfister, Fonzie’s fiancée on Happy Days. Festivities concluded with a champagne toast at The Vault at 1930, a nearby art gallery.

Next up for Theatre Jax is “The Savannah Sipping Society” (November 2-18), a laughter-filled comedy. Visit theatrejax.com for additional information or call 904-396-4425 for reservations.

About Dick Kerekes & Leisla Sansom

The Dual Critics of EU Jacksonville have been reviewing plays together for the past nine years. Dick Kerekes has been a critic since 1980, starting with The First Coast Entertainer and continuing as the paper morphed into EU Jacksonville. Leisla Sansom wrote reviews from time to time in the early 80s, but was otherwise occupied in the business world. As a writing team, they have attended almost thirty Humana Festivals of New America Plays at Actors Theatre in Louisville, Kentucky, and many of the annual conferences sponsored by the American Theatre Critics Association, which are held in cities throughout the country. They have reviewed plays in Cincinnati, Chicago, Miami, Sarasota, Minneapolis, Orlando, New York, Philadelphia, Sarasota, San Francisco, Shepherdstown, and The Eugene O’Neill Center in Waterford, Massachusetts. They currently review about one hundred plays annually in the North Florida area theaters, which include community, college, university, and professional productions.
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