Composer and lyricist Jerry Herman has said he wanted to give audiences “songs they could whistle as they left the theater and take home in their pockets.”
Michael Childers made certain that happened for attendees of his One Night Only – Hello Jerry event, a tribute to Herman benefiting Jewish Family Service of the Desert.
Childers, who has produced One Night Only for 11 years, and his talented team truly knocked it out of the park with this year’s performance, which lasted nearly two hours and left the audience wanting more.
Childers attributes much of the show’s success to his outstanding cast, including more than 20 Broadway veterans. Jason Graae, director of this year’s show, opened up the evening’s overture with Faith Prince, a Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle winner for her performance as Miss Adelaide in Guys and Dolls.
Numbers from Hello, Dolly!, Mame, La Cage Aux Folles, and Mack & Mabel followed along with other recognizable songs from Herman, who was the first composer and lyricist to have three productions running on Broadway simultaneously in 1969.
Little did Herman know that in April 2017 he would have seven previous “Dollys” onstage at once at the McCallum Theatre for the finale song of Hello Jerry. Meanwhile, Herman’s latest version of Hello, Dolly! celebrated its opening night on Broadway the same month with a new face portraying the character of Dolly Gallagher Levi: Bette Midler.
After the performance, many of those whistling and humming guests were on their way to the One Night Only after party at the River in Rancho Mirage, catered by Jerry Keller of the new Acqua California Bistro, slated to open soon.
Keller and his creative team decorated the empty venue with an aesthetically pleasing combination of styles reminiscent of the Copacabana and Moroccan Room nightclubs in New York City. Guests arrived to a sumptuous buffet dinner while waiting for the performers to walk in. Once again, with Todd Schroeder on the keyboard, the cast shared their vocal talent with the audience of theater-lovers.
It was close to midnight when cast members reminded attendees that many of them had 6 a.m. flights to New York to make it back for other productions. Many made clear that they would gladly return to volunteer their talents to Jewish Family Service of the Desert again to help raise funds providing essential services to the valley. “Jewish Family Service of the Desert is about Jewish people taking care of people … not necessarily only Jewish people,” said attendee Lucie Arnaz.
JFS board president Barbara Fromm has co-chaired this standing room–only event since 2008, and has partnered with Terri Ketover for many of those years. Together they pulled in a full house with a host of sponsors, including platinum sponsors Helene Galen and Jamie Kabler, Barbara Fremont, Barbara and Jerry Keller, and Harold Matzner, among others.
Jewish Family Service of the Desert
490 S. Farrell Dr, C208
Palm Springs, CA 92262
Photography by Dimitri Halkidis