On Monday, June 13, I attended "The Meeting's" special June edition entitled "Night of A Thousand Judys" at Joe's Pub in NYC. Produced by Justin Sayre, Adam Rosen, Dan Fortune, Paul Winkler, and Will Fisher, "Night of A Thousand Judys" was a benefit for The Ali Forney Center in NYC which is nation's largest and most comprehensive organization dedicated to homeless LGBT youth. AFC's goal is to provide homeless LGBT youths, aged 16-24, with the support and services they need to escape the streets and begin to live healthy and independent lives.
"The Meeting," a monthly comedy/variety show for homosexuals and their friends, is hosted by Justin Sayre. Once again, Justin triumphed as host because he is a talented comedian, has incredible stage presence, and a booming personality that engages the audience quickly.
"Night of A Thousand Judys" payed homage to one of the greatest gay icons, Judy Garland. Justin, et al assembled an amazing line up of talent from theatre, cabaret, and stand-up comedy for skits and songs made famous by Judy.
The line-up included the hysterically funny and talented Jackie Hoffman (Broadway's "Addams Family," "Xanadu," "Hairspray")who scored big with her rendition of "Swanee," for which she received a standing ovation from the sold-out house! Jackie started off with her signature humor which is golden and moved into sining "Swanee" big and strong! Justin, Jack Ferver ("Rumble Ghost at PS 122," "SWAN!"), Randy Rainbow ("Randy Rainbow is Dating Mel Gibson"), Jeff Hiller ("Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson"), and Ryan O'Connor ("Oprah’s Search for the Next TV Star," "Ryan O'Connor Eats His Feelings"), performed 2 skits about being at The Stonewall (a gay bar), during the "The Stonewall Riots" talking about the night Judy Garland died. These 5 performers together are a riot, each bringing their own humor to the skit. It was brilliant! Kim Smith (Bistro Award for "Outstanding Performer on the Rise") did phenominal job with "Alone Together," especially by putting his signature stamp on it. Kim performs his songs in Weimar-inspired style that bring together authentic musical material with stylistic takes on current popular tunes. He's truly amazing! Also in this line-up was Natalie Joy Johnson (Broadway's "Legally Blonde"), who has some of the most powerful vocals I've heard! Natalie can take any song and belt the heck out of it and Monday was no exception when she sang "The Man That Got Away." Another performer with big vocals is Lady Rizo (Grammy winning singer), who I never heard sing before, but I sure am glad I was introduced to her. Lady Rizo has a voice and she knows how to use it! Lady Rizo sang a wonderfully beautiful version of "Smile," to which the audience loved. Taking the stage right after Lady Rizo was Emily Bergl who I watched this past season as "Beth" on "Desperate Housewives" and now have had the fortunate experience of hearing her sing. Emily has a fantastic voice which radiated as she sang "Zing, Went The Strings of My Heart." It was quite a dramatic performance, which the audience ate up! Luckily, Emily is going to keep singing as she will be performing her own cabaret show this summer at The Algonquin Hotel in NYC. Gay Marshall ("Jacques Brel Is Alive…") delighted the audience with her gorgeous and powerful vocals on "Rockabye Your Rockabye Baby." Gay belts it out like nobody's business, such a talent. Then there was Larry Hamilton and Jamaal Wilson who performed a rousing duet of "Get Happy"/"Happy Days Are Here Again." These are also two guys I never heard of, but am thrilled I have now. The vocals they have are unreal! So powerful, skilled, and controlled, it's no wonder the audience went wild! Cole Escola (Logo TV's "Jeffery & Cole Casserole") added to the comedy of the night when he came out dressed in his glittering short shorts and seductively sang "Atchinson, Topeka, Santa Fe." Later in the night, he and Justin did a duet of "A Couple of Swells" which was quite hysterical! Summer & Eve (the folk-musical comedy band featuring Nadia Quinn of "Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson") also took the stage and sang "Purple People Eater" which was quite enjoyable. Ending this terrificly hilarious evening was a video of Judy Garland singing "Over The Rainbow," which was the perfect ending to a great evening!
I can't say enough how amazing this evening was! It was a night of laughter, but at the core, it was a night benefiting a really worthwhile cause, The Ali Forney Center. They do terrific work and have helped thousands of homeless GLBT teens get their lives back together.
All of the organizers and performers should be very proud of themselves for together such a successful night! "The Meeting" normally takes place at The Duplex in NYC and will be back in session in September! Hope to see you at "The Meeting" then!