Jason Graae and Alex Rybeck entertain patrons and supporters of The Encompass New Opera Theatre for its Annual Jazz Cabaret Gala at Chip Seelig’s Tribeca penthouse.
by Linda Amiel Burns
On June 29th, 2015, patrons and supporters of The Encompass New Opera Theatre gathered at Chip Seelig’s spectacular Tribeca penthouse for its Annual Jazz Cabaret Gala. After drinks and canapés on the wrap-around terraces with views of the city, the group came inside to the living room and gathered around the Steinway for the entertainment.
Founder Nancy Rhodes greeted the audience and introduced the talented cabaret favorite Jason Graae who had just flown in from Washington, DC where he was starring in The Producers. He was accompanied by the much sought-after and Award-winning pianist Alex Rybeck. The show couldn’t have been any better as Jason performed songs from his acclaimed Jerry Herman Show including “You I Like” from The Grand Tour, a show that he was in at The York Theater in NY and The Colony in Burbank. From the same show he wowed with “Marianne” and “Mrs. Jacobowsky.” Jerry Herman is quoted as saying that “Jason instinctively knows how to find the smile or tug at the heart behind my music and lyrics. How I love Jason Graae singing my songs.”
Jason talked about the difficult conversation he had finally coming out to his mother at age 30 and then sang an impassioned “I Am What I Am” from La Cage Aux Folles which took on a special meaning. Of course, songs from Herman’s most popular show Hello Dolly was included, a tender medley of “It Only Takes a Moment” with “Loving You” and special lyrics were written for “Leave Everything To Me” that introduced the purpose of the show and paid tribute to this legendary composer. Jason can be impish, playful and funny, but he is also a terrific actor and put his own personal stamp on “Before the Parade Passes By.” Another highlight was the beautiful “I Don’t Want To Know” from Dear World, which showed his great vocal range. Those who were in attendance at the Encompass Gala were fortunate to have been treated to a terrific evening of song with two great talents of cabaret and Broadway.
The Encompass Fall Gala will be held at The National Arts Club on Oct. 25, and the honoree is not announced as yet. Visit www.encompassopera.org or call 718 398-4675 for more info.
photos by Maryann Lopinto