CFL’S SUMMER STAND IS A CABARET LICENSE TO THRILL

Felix Truex does it up GRAND, in a Wednesday night STAND that heralds the continuation of a beautiful relationship between Tim McLoone’s Supper Club, and the nonprofit Cabaret For Life. (photos courtesy Tara Feeley)

Published in The Coaster (Asbury Park, NJ) and The Link (Long Branch, NJ), July 11, 2019

While he acknowledges the fact that “Asbury Park has been coming back in the most amazing ways,” Andrew De Prisco emphasizes that for many of the city’s neediest inhabitants, the story remains much the same as it’s been for more than a quarter of a century. And when the need continues, The Show Must Go On — in the form of Cabaret For Life, Inc.

Established in the fall of 1995 by De Prisco, his artistic producing partner Fred Mayo, and John and Carole Hessel of Bradley Beach, the Ocean Grove-based nonprofit has kept the focus on “raising funds for service organizations that help people coping with life-threatening diseases, especially HIV/AIDS and cancer, through the production of musical theater.”

Any doubts as to the verifiable healing powers of a well-turned showtune should immediately take a back seat to the evidence of Cabaret For Life’s successful mission; particularly its track record of having raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for charities that range from such nationally known entities as the American Cancer Society and St. Jude Children’s Hospital, to Monmouth County-based nonprofits Ronald McDonald House of Long Branch, Mary’s Place by the Sea, K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital, the Ashley Lauren Foundation, the VNA Health Center, and The Center in Asbury Park’s Center House facility.

Speaking during a rehearsal for the upcoming De Prisco-produced staging of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at Ocean Township’s Axelrod Performing Arts Center — about which more in a moment — the org’s co-founder notes that The Center has been the principal beneficiary of his group’s endeavors from the start, with the Cabaret crew raising an average of $10,000 per year for the Rev. Robert “Father Bob” Kaeding and his volunteer service organization for those living with HIV/AIDS. It’s an affiliation that dates back even before the official inception of Cabaret For Life, when Andrew and company staged their upbeat entertainments at Father Bob’s former post, the Church of St. Anselm in Tinton Falls — and as the new century enters its third decade, Cabaret For Life remains steadfastly committed to a community leader who “does a great deal of outreach…the people who live at Center House have a real need of their services, and when it comes to Father Bob we love to lift him up; to give a voice to his work.”

Following a “pretty peripatetic” interlude in which the Cabaret troupe did their thing at venues that included The Old Mill in Spring Lake, McLoone’s Rum Runner in Sea Bright, and Jumping Brook Country Club in Neptune, De Prisco landed at what would become Cabaret For Life’s regular home stage, when the company presented its first summer season of shows at Tim McLoone’s Supper Club in 2009.

“McLoone’s helped us re-invent ourselves for our second chapter,” the producer says of the elegant upstairs space located within the space-age “doo wop” saucer that once housed the late George Panas’s stalwart Howard Johnson’s during some of Asbury Park’s most challenging times. “It seemed the ideal place to create real cabaret…and for the first time, we were able to do single-person shows.”

A summertime staple that’s now in its 11th Supper Club season, the 2019 Cabaret For Life slate got underway on June 27 with The Dolly Parton Songbook, a tribute set that dedicated a full 100 percent of proceeds to local charities. As De Prisco tells it, the show’s success “speaks to the unique way that we operate, where our annual membership people help us to cover all of the expenses involved with putting on a show…and help us in turn to give all to charity.”

The summer schedule resumes once more this coming Wednesday, July 17, when Cabaret For Life welcomes back a performing partner who’s been with them from the get-go — singer, musician, and all-around entertainer Felix Truex — for the first of two one-man extravaganzas entitled Ain’t It Grand! Drawing from his prodigious mental songbook of Broadway, jazz, pop and rock standards, Truex performs a 7 pm solo set for which admission (a $35 donation) can be reserved at timmcloonessupperclub.com.

Continue reading

A GLITTER Attack, on the Asbury Boards

Brett Colby — pictured during what turned out NOT to be a dress rehearsal at McLoone’s — heads a stellar cast in the third annual edition of GAY & BE GLITTER, the fundraiser revue going up this Thursday and Friday.

Starring…Brett Colby!

Like, who wouldn’t throw his sainted grandmother beneath a Weezer’s Ice truck for such billing? And featured so prominently on the nicely designed print ads and postcards, yet — in a stand-alone bubble of the sort usually reserved for claims like “NOW with 40% MORE Brett Colby!”

And yet. Brett Noorigian Colby — genre-bending vocal artist, actor, activist, advocate for all things true and just, and titular STAR of the event known as Gay and Be Glitter 3 — is a humble man who disdains such attention, despite the loud smoking jackets and occasional gowns. A man whose ongoing calling to service and charity co-exists in curious harmony with a wicked sense of humor and a refreshingly un-serious perspective on his own seriously considerable skills (with occasional meddling from a barely controlled alter ego by name of Lyle).

Call him Emcee. Or Narrator, a role that fit him like a leopard-print Snuggie in the 2010 ReVision Theatre production of Rocky Horror. Better still, RINGMASTER of the musical maelstrom and cacophonous comedic commerce swirling about the DooWop, “Howard Jetsons” saucer that is Tim McLoone’s Supper Club.

When the third annual edition of the fun(d)raiser mirth-and-music revue (produced by the nonprofit, nonpareil troupers at Cabaret for Life, Inc.) hits the herringboned hardwoods of the Asbury boardwalk for a pair of performances this Thursday and Friday, July 28-29, it will once again be in the service of a most worthy cause — but, as the ringmaster is quick to point out, that scarcely means we need get all maudlin about it.

Continue reading