By Grace Bennett
Frank Shiner tells his audiences that “Love,” in all its permutations (the agony and the ecstasy), serves as the theme for his musical selections. By every indication last night: love and a palpable excitement permeated the air as the audience rose for a standing ovation for Shiner–cheering for the exuberant and talented singer but also for the future of the all new Chappaqua Performing Arts Center.
It was just emotion taking him over at first when Shiner took the stage, looking out into the packed room, and a little choked up, he said, “Thank you, Chappaqua.”
And then he proceeded to engage a hometown audience with a thoughtful selection of blues/soul songs including stirring titles from Amy Winehouse (“Love is a Losing Game”): and The Young Rascals (“How Can I be Sure?”), backed up by a group of mega talented musicians who have worked with celebrity performers. They were:
Jon Cobert, keyboard – Lennon, Springstein
Sherrod Barnes, guitar- Whitney, Roberta Flack, Earth Wind Fire
Jay Rodriguez sax,flute- Prince, Patty Labelle, Elvis Cost Miles Davis
Chris Anderson Bass, toured with A Great Big Wold and Rachel Platten and has a band with his wife.
Dan Weiner drummer – Amer. Got talent house, Woo Tang Clan
Frank also announced the debut of his daughter Lindsay Shiner, a Greeley senior who was just accepted to the BFA Program at Baldwin Wallace University, singing as backup and in a duet with her father (“When Something is Wrong with my Baby” with the lyrics changed slightly to reflect a father/daughter relationship!). Toward the end of the show, members of Greeley’s cast of Grease, the senior musical, joined Frank on stage as well to perform “We Go Together.”
David Restivo, executive director of the Chappaqua Orchestra and on the Town’s Arts and Culture committee, volunteered with sound, together with John Flanagan, who ran the lights too. Area restaurants including Le Jardin du roi and Quaker Hill Tavern in Chappaqua offered donations before and after the show with tie ins on their menus. Shiner himself donated $5K in proceeds from the show to the newly formed Friends of the Chappaqua Performing Arts Center. Shiner’s upcoming album, Lonely Town, Lonely Street will be available May 19th on RED/SONY with his single On a Rainy Night in Georgia.
Most of all, it was a warm and enthusiastic community gathering signifying the continuing aspirations for the evolving venue. Prior to Frank taking the stage, the audience heard Town Councilwoman Lisa Katz, who conceived the Center working with the town’s Arts and Culture committee, describe an array of plans by the Town of New Castle–including a town theater camp for kids this summer and a special art show in September–to ultimately position the site of the old Readers Digest Wallace Auditorium as a key cultural destination in Northern Westchester, and for the county, as well.
John Fanelli, director of the Lighthouse Youth Theater in Armonk, with a years-long track record of directing shows in the county, has been brought in as theater manager to help produce an array of musicals and shows to the venue. He expressed his enthusiasm about the venue and told the audience that he is open to receiving ideas for productions from the community, too.
Chappaqua’s Michele Gregson and Tracy Stein are heading the new Friends of the Chappaqua Performing Arts Center and have plans to raise an initial $50,000 for program development at the Center.
A website is under construction and a calendar of events is being created soon too.
Next up: an all new Storybook Family Concert by the Chappaqua Orchestra on April 29th directed by Maestro Michael Shapiro. Shiner graciously encouraged everyone attending to purchase tickets for the show which he described as a high caliber event and “not just for kids.” Visit www.chappaquaorchestra.org for tickets and more information.
No doubt about it… Chappaqua’s Got Arts.
Grace Bennett, Publisher and Editor of the Inside Press, is excited about the future of the Chappaqua Performing Arts Center.