BC American Legion Fundraiser A Hit
Tables were packed together side by side from wall to wall inside the hall and many people stood for the event which organizers say drew more than 350 people.
Starting at 7:30 p.m. the gathering went on well past midnight, with dozens of people still chatting and enjoying the evening as chairs were folded up and tables were being put away around 1 a.m.
All proceeds from the event will go toward continuing the hurricane Sandy damaged Legion Hall.
Ticket sales not only generated needed funds, with some people willing to pay just to stand, but also drink sales and raffles added to the night’s success. The 50/50 raffle raised $3,190 for the Post, with an equal amount going to the winner. Organizers estimated more than $12,000 was raised all together.
The highlight of the night was a performance by the Broad Channel Theatre Group.
The group, which was known for such well received local productions as Grease, The Wizard of Oz in 2001, Crazy For You in 2002, Into the Woods, 2006, and Bye Bye Birdie in 2008, reunited for this special benefit.
Included in the evening’s entertainment were Liz Hayes Boyle, Tomasina Ogden, Sean O’Connor, Mike Beaury, Milty Boyle, Gerry Canning and many other talented performers. They even reprised a song from Grease as their closing number.
As Murray, who acted as host for the evening, joked from the stage, “They said, ‘Hey, let’s put on a show. Let’s do it in August! Without AC!”
Presented as an evening-long review, the BC Theatre Group’s set included comedy, skits, music and dance numcontinued bers with up to two dozen players.
Highlights included The Four (or Five) Tenors belting out favorite TV themes, the evening closing jokes, music and mayhem of The Roving Irishmen and an all-nun singing/ dancing take on “I Will Follow Him” from the movie Sister Act.
Getting big applause and laughs were a riotous musical turn by “Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and Liza Minnelli” and a skit called “Carol Corbett” where cast members topped each other with praise for the virtues of one of the evening’s organizers. As characters became evermore extravagant, Murray reminded them, “The script’s on the table fellas!”
Carol Corbett herself brought the house down and had everyone singing along with an off the cuff rendition of “My Way.”
One strong theme of the event was ‘home.’ As one country tinged song repeated, “Who says you can’t go home.”
The Broad Channel audience, many of whom were displaced by Hurricane Sandy, and all of whom were still feeling the effects of the storm nearly 10 months later, was very receptive to that message.
Corbett hit on this in the closing lines of her own touching poem Coming Home. “But we’re coming back, one by one/Yes, we’re coming back/to the town where we belong/because we are Broad Channel strong.”
An interpretive dance number also made the point, as some of the dancers carried large, poster sized photos of a boat washed up on a local street, a sign that read “FEMA- Help Us Now,” the missing Rockaway boardwalk and the burnt out Broad Channel Volunteers fire truck.
The wave of emotion touched off by the images that all had experienced brought tears to the eyes of many in the audience.
These familiar post-Sandy scenes, when turned around and placed on the stage front, showed the names of the sister communities united by the experience of the storm: Breezy Point, Belle Harbor, Rockaway, Broad Channel.
Tapping the steadfast, self-reliant, nature of the island community and its sense of humor, one of the highlights was Billy Murray’s adaptation of Leonard Cohen’s song “Hallelujah.”
Done to comic effect by Adam Sandler at the 12-12-12 Benefit Concert, Murray described his version as “a parody of a parody.”
Murray referenced such Broad Channel staples like Robert Moses, the salt marshes, the annual Mardi Gras parade and more with lines like “The sewer line down Cross Bay/Then when JFK wanted to run a runway right thru ya!”
The riotous chorus, which the whole hall joined in on, went “Hallelujah/ Sandy screw ya!/We’ll get thru ya/We’re coming back/ ‘Cause we’re Broad Channel!”
“That’s my new favorite song!” cheered one woman.