‘New York, New York’

Area residents will have the opportunity to attend a live production at the Spire Theater that also serves as a benefit in April.

The benefit concert “New York, New York!” is scheduled for 8 p.m. on Friday, April 6, and Saturday, April 7, at the Spire Theater of Jamestown. The event is produced by Shannon Nixon, of Jamestown, who founded the Shannon’s Kids Series. The program is a theatrical project dedicated to raising funds for area residents undergoing medical treatment.

According to Nixon, the two beneficiaries of “New York, New York!” include: Rosie Thrasher-Miller, a 4-year-old in need of a kidney transplant; and Elisha Kulpa, of Dunkirk, a 26-year-old in need of a double lung transplant. Nixon came across Thrasher-Miller via Jeanette Olstrom, president of Kidney Connection Inc. Kulpa came to Nixon’s attention via Claudia Monroe, director of Centaur Stride.

“I want to help anyone who is in need – it gives me an overwhelming feeling of satisfaction,” said Nixon. “The one human emotion that really gets to me is empathy, and I love seeing people reach out to help others. So, that’s the premise I used to create Shannon’s Kids Series.”

“New York, New York!” is an original production written by Nixon and directed by Cathy Covarrubias. Nixon based much of the material in the script specifically on the characters in the show. The actors include: Nixon, Ylsa and Angelo Giuffre, Kira Spencer, Matt Warren, Kenzie Sandberg, Jamie Lee, Don Hill, and Logan Beard. It will also feature Chautauqua’s Got Talent winner Teal Weatherly performing “Cry Me A River.”

“This production is unique in that it pokes fun at area performers,” said Nixon. “We have Matt Warren, who is a radio personality that is extremely funny, and we also have a lot of funny women. Much of the humor in the show comes from something the audience usually never sees – the backstage. You get to see, simultaneously, what is happening both onstage and off.”

According to Nixon, the show follows several thespians who emulate a style reminiscent of the golden era of vintage and jazz. The actors will perform Frank Sinatra classics, cabaret, Bob Fosse style dance numbers and comedy routines.

“The production depicts not only what is showcased in front of the audience, which is a glitzy and glamorous performance saturated in familiar ballads, show-stopping song-and-dance numbers and vaudevillian comedy, but also what it is not,” said Nixon. “The backstage happenings and real-life situations of these entertainers are revealed as the curtain is drawn back to expose it all. The audience gets to see a staged production as well as a backstage production filled with battle of the sexes banter, outrageous sketches and romantic entanglements.”

SHANNON’S KIDS SERIES

The idea for holding benefit-style concerts originally came to Nixon because she was working for the mother of quadruple transplant patient Ryan Samuelson.

“I thought I could do a benefit concert for him, and the community jumped onboard,” said Nixon. “We ended up doing a show at the Bemus Church, which raised more than $3,000.”

Then Nixon got involved with Big Time Productions’ Angelo and Ylsa Giuffre after she won Chautauqua’s Got Talent in 2010.

“I was really intrigued by the projects that (Angelo and Ylsa) did, and it inspired me,” said Nixon.

The result was the development of a partnership that spawned the first show of Shannon’s Kids Series, “Classic Radio.” The show served as a benefit to Aili Makuch, who is fighting a rare kidney disease known as Wilms’ cancer.

“It’s really grown with each production,” said Nixon. “It’s becoming better and more polished. I’m especially excited because we’re connecting with local businesses who see what Shannon’s Kids Series is and want to get on board. Wing City Grille just became the title sponsor, and will sell tickets as well as promote the event in Lakewood and in Dunkirk.”

Tickets to the event are $10 presale and $12 at the door. Presale tickets are available at Wing City Grille, Herbs R-4-U, Dorian’s Plus, Jones 212 Bakery, Bair’s Pizza and by calling 708-8879. The Spire Theater is located at 317 E. Third St. in Jamestown.

For more information visit shannonskids.org or search for “Shannon’s Kids Series” on Facebook.