Estelle Parsons


Maury Yeston


by Linda Amiel Burns


44 Years and Counting…….this is how long The Encompass New Opera Theatre has been “bringing to life rare and rewarding musical experiences.” At their annual Gala on Sunday, January 26, 2020, two theater legends were honored: Estelle Parsons and Maury Yeston in “A Musical Salute! 2020” starring some of Broadway’s finest performers. After a dinner at The National Arts Club, Artistic Director, Nancy Rhodes, graciously welcomed one and all as the musical entertainment began. Midge Woolsey served as host with Beth Ertz, the Program Music Director/Arranger/pianist along and the renowned Jay Leonhart on bass.

Midge Woolsey

Sheldon Harnick

Nancy Rhodes, Estelle Parsons


First to be honored was composer/lyricist Maury Yeston who was given the Sheldon Harnick Award. Maury recalled that when a student at Yale University, he first heard the score from Fiddler on the Roof and that changed his life. Maury noted that accepting this Award from Sheldon Harnick himself was beyond remarkable. Jovan E’Sean and Alex Getlin recently in the cast of the York Theater’s Maury Yeston Tribute Anything Can Happen in the Theater, sang “I Don’t Want to Rock ‘n’ Roll,” from an unproduced musical called The Queen of Basin Street. Multi talented musician/singer Johnny Rodgers recorded many of Yeston’s songs and sang “I am Still in Love With You” and “Mississippi Moon.” Tony Winner Karen Ziemba beautifully acted “My Husband Makes Movies” from Nine. One of the highlights was hearing Oswaldo Iraheth, a tenor from Italy, sing “I Stand Alone” from Goya. Brian d’Arcy James starred in Titanic and performed “Barrett’s Song” from that show along with a stirring rendition of  “In a Very Unusual Way” from Nine. Lianne Gennaco’s lovely soprano voice was perfect for “Home” from Yeston’s Phantom. Patrick Cook (who now directs the famed BMI Workshop) talked about Maury’s twenty years teaching and inspiring songwriters. A letter was read from Steven Flaherty and Lynn Aherns who met there and went on to great acclaim.

Jovan E’Sean, Alex Getlin

Karen Ziemba

Brian d’Arcy James

Laurie Metcalf

Oswaldo Iraheth

KT Sullivan

Lianne Gennaco


Estelle Parsons has had a long and varied career in all aspects of the business even winning an Oscar for Bonnie and Clyde. Frank Rich in the NY Times described her as having “an artistic impulse that is both passionate and rare.” Jill Abramovitz sang “Gee But It’s Good To Be Here” from Happy Hunting, the show in which Estelle made her Broadway Debut. Jay Leonhart and Karen Ziemba performed a fun duet of “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” paired with “Do Do Do.” Estelle was in Pirates of Penzance with Kevin Kline and Linda Ronstadt, and Lianne sang “Poor Wandering One” from that show. KT Sullivan was sensational performing a song from The Three Penny Opera, as Estelle was in the original with Lotte Lenya. Soprano Melanie Long sang “The Alabama Song” from Mahagony. Elizabeth and Essex was given a production at Encompass that Nancy Rhodes directed. Douglas Katsaros wrote the music and he accompanied Karen Ziemba in two songs from that show, “He Loves You As you Are” and “The Lady Lies.” Karen also sang a lovely song from Harold & Maude, “The Chance to Sing.” Tony Award winner, Laurie Metcalf presented the Lifetime Achievement Award to Estelle. They met 30 years ago on the TV Show Roseanne and Laurie spoke of her great love and admiration for this versatile and remarkable actress. Estelle said that this was one of the “best nights of her life” and this tribute was certainly well deserved.

Estelle Parsons gets a hug from Laurie Metcalf

Patrick Cook

The Cast


I have attended many extraordinary evenings given by Encompass and congratulations are in order for over four decades presenting new and important works, and also extraordinary evenings of music and song that honor and acknowledge theater luminaries.

Photos: Maryann Lopinto


For more information on past tributes and future productions: Visit: