August 23, 2007

One Night Only Cabaret: Avenue Q & Jersey Boys!

August 23rd, 2007

Photos courtesy of Larry Baker at

We’re excited to present JBB Special Correspondent Lauren Avila’s recap of Monday evening’s “One Night Only” event starring the SF/Chicago Company of Jersey Boys!

Monday night, August 20th was the Richmond/Ermet AIDS Foundation’s presentation of “One Night Only.” San Francisco’s Post Street Theatre played host to the National Touring companies of Avenue Q and Jersey Boys for this performance. As stated on the program, it was “an evening of music & comedy to benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and The Richmond Ermet AIDS Foundation.” Staying true to those words, it was a hilarious revue of entertainment and true talent! First, the sponsors were thanked for their generous contributions: Continental Airlines, The Bob Ross Foundation, The Silva Watson Moonwalf Fund, Randall Schiller Productions, The Examiner, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, Post Street Theatre, PlanetOutPartner/, and MAX.

Opening the show was the cast of Avenue Q with their notorious puppets, all of whom were beginning auditions for Jersey Boys! The song was appropriately titled, “God I Hope I Get It.” Of the SF/Chicago company, Jarrod Spector and Jenny Lee Ramos were the first cast members to take the stage. They re-enacted their “Frankie” and “Mary” divorce scene, altering dialogue to build the storyline. Then, what every Jersey Boys fan wants to see, a Jersey Girl had her chance to shine. Jenny sang a fabulous number much to the audience’s liking entitled “Life Of The Party.” Drew Gehling, John Hickman, and Jeremy Kushnier joined Jarrod onstage to hold auditions for the new cast of Jersey Boys. Audition set #1, Seth Rettberg and Maggie Lakis from Avenue Q singing a duet called “Therapy.” Next up? No other than “Rod” (Rob McClure),“Nikki”(Christian Anderson), and “Brian”(Cole Porter) singing “You’re the Top” with a comical twist! Jersey Boys’ Jake Speck, delivered a knee-slapping piece called “If You Take It.” Enough said!

“The role(s) usually played by…” Those are common words known to theatergoers. Three of the four principal actors from our show were at the benefit. Why? “You’re only here because Michael Ingersoll was busy,” as Jeremy stated to John Hickman. The result of such a comment, a song devoted to understudies, supporting roles, and swings… “It Sucks To Be Me.” The song was a huge hit sung by our companies’ Jake Speck, John Hickman, John Michael Dias, Steven Goldsmith, and Lyndsey Cole!!! Drummer, Rich Dart, roused up the crowd with an exhilarating Little Richard medley and impressive dance moves! A knock-out number came from another Avenue Q cast member, Erica Robinson with “Push The Button.” Bringing the tone down, but certainly not the amusement was Jersey Boys’ Mike Erickson and Ryan Quinn West with “Business Time!” Not one member of the audience could get through this song without side-splitting laughter! An amazing act from “Rod” had everyone in hysterics with his Leading Lady Medley! Rob McClure showcased incredible flair with this arrangement featuring “Everything’s Coming Up Roses,” “Part of Your World,” “People,” “Don’t Rain On My Parade,” and the Golden Girls’ Theme Song!

Finishing up the first half of the show was a very funny scene with the Jersey Boys and the Bears from Avenue Q. In desperation to raise more money for this cause, Drew wanted to do more to help. The Bears suggested an auction selling… invaluable Jersey Boys merchandise. In the end, an auction was held with exciting surprises tossed in by the cast members themselves. Drew Gehling was the first auctioneer doing a wonderful job at selling a trip to Hawaii. A prize of two first-class airplane tickets to fly anywhere in the country took bids under John Hickman’s notable pandemonium. Jeremy Kushnier was adamant about raising the bids for the “Avenue Q” package which included two show tickets, a backstage tour, and dinner. To keep raising funds, John modeled a bra in the midst of the chaos! Two prize packages consisting of an Avenue Q t-shirt, hat, mouse pad, mug, and signed picture book were being advertised by the Boys. The show and its mouse pad were highly recommended by Jarrod. All four of them were terrific in motivating the bidders. In fact, when the bid was up to $300 for this “Avenue Q” package, Jeremy bid it on it himself!

Jarrod was the overseer for the priceless “Jersey Boys” package. This one could have originally sold itself simply being a Jersey Boys’ fan’s dream: lunch with Jarrod Spector and Michael Ingersoll at The Rotunda Restaurant at Neiman Marcus; two tickets to “One Night Only” starring the cast of “Mamma Mia;” and a “Jersey Boys” cast-signed poster! The bids quickly raised then came to a slow stop. So to keep it going the cast added items and they just kept “goin’ and goin’ and goin’.” They added two autographed playbills and an autographed one-of-a-kind “Walk Like A Man for a Cure” shirt! Adding to the lunch appeal, Drew and Jeremy said they would join in, too! Also, Jarrod promised he would sing “Sherry” at lunch! This package had become an unbelievable reward for giving money to charity. As a last plea for donations, Jenny offered to sell the very shirt she was wearing to the highest bidder! Although Jenny’s shirt would only be added to one package, a second package was made for anyone who matched the highest bid. It was matched! An astounding result and tremendous success for the auction! Now back to the show…

After a fifteen-minute intermission, the music regaled the audience once again. Angela Ai from Avenue Q sang “Year To Live” with a few of her fellow cast members. Continuing their casting process, the Jersey Boys had an open call for their Jersey Girls. A few Avenue Q female cast members; Jenny Lee Ramos; Lyndsey Cole; and Lauren Marshall belted out the powerful song, “Cause I’m A Woman.” A remarkable performance from these exceptional ladies! Using the excuse of discussing Call Backs, the guys left Jarrod alone with “Kate Monster”(Kelli Sawyer) who had captured his love-struck heart. He sang the humorous song, “Monster Goddess,” with marvelous vocals. Rashad Naylor wowed the audience with his “Don’t Do Sadness.” He then asked about the Jersey Boys movie, which of course led into the Tough Guy Movie Medley. The Boys’ routine was a big crowd pleaser with the audience!

Avenue Q actresses Danielle Thomas, Erica Robinson, Jennie Kwan, and Maggie Lakis sang “White Boys.” A new Frankie Valli has been found! It’s impossible to express the experience it is to witness “Trekkie” the puppet sing his own unique rendition of “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.” Jenny was included in this special version! The night ended with a deeply poignant ballad written by Stephen Bates who passed away from AIDS. It was beautifully sung by both casts, leaving the room truly inspired.

The performance was extraordinary and so was the social time. The stars were in alignment! Fellow Jersey Boys’ fan, Mike and I met for the first time at this event! What are the chances that he and I would be seated right next to each other?! It was a sincere pleasure to meet another fan and to share the experience with him. We talked with Jarrod Spector and Mike Erickson from our Jersey Boys cast after the show, which was a joy!

This was a GREAT show and couldn’t have been done without the talents of our very own Jersey Boys’ cast and crew! The show was directed by Larry Baker, James Darrah, and Jeremy Kushnier! It was choreographed by James Darrah and Jersey Boys’ dance captain, John Michael Coppola. The script was written magnificently by Jeremy Kushnier and Avenue Q star, Rob McClure (who I was honored to meet after the show as well). Credits also include: Stage Mangers, Brendan M. Fay and Melissa Berkson; Box Office Manager, Al Treuter; and Auction Chair, Gary Thackeray. Superb job from everyone involved!

Thank you very much to Jersey Boys Blog for another opportunity to write for them! Thanks to Larry Baker for a fantastic show and for saying hello at the event! A thank you also to the performers from both casts! Special thanks to Executive Director/Event Producer, Ken Henderson at the Richmond/Ermet Foundation for providing the song list from the cabaret!

Thank you to Lauren Avila for terrific coverage of the “One Night Only” event!


  1. Strangely enough, although Maggie was on the song list from Ken Henderson, Jennie Kwan was the one who sang “Therapy” (which is hysterical and from Tick Tick Boom, BTW).

    I loved some of those lyrics to “It Sucks to Be Me.”
    Steven: I double Frankie’s voice but nobody would ever know. ‘Cuz I’m offstage, so pardon me if I throw a fit.
    John: Pull your tongue!
    Steven: You are no John Lloyd Young.

    Comment by Leanna — August 23, 2007 @ 11:16 pm

  2. Leanna I loved those lyrics too! That was seriously one of my favorite numbers! Yeah, I thought my memory was deceiving me when I got that list from Mr. Henderson because I remember Jennie Kwan singing it.

    Comment by Lauren — August 23, 2007 @ 11:33 pm

  3. I guess they switched out at the last minute. That song is funny anyway and it still worked in this context. ;) (BTW, I saw Jennie as Christmas Eve and she was adorable!)

    “If You Take It” was something else, although I think you made a good decision by not elaborating on it any further. ;)

    “…then POOF, you’re gay!”

    Comment by Leanna — August 23, 2007 @ 11:42 pm

  4. I loved the crowds reaction to Steven telling John “You are no John Lloyd Young.” Even though it was all in good fun, it was such a good burn. I think someone in the audience actually yelled out burn after the line.

    Comment by Mike — August 24, 2007 @ 12:00 am

  5. Great review, Lauren. Sounds like a lot of fun.

    How could the writers resist when ‘Young’ rhymes so well with ‘tongue’. (You’ve got me curious about the “If You Take It” song.)

    Nothing like laughter and great entertainment to get people to pull out their checkbooks. Anyone know how much was raised? Thanks again for the article!

    Comment by Audrey — August 24, 2007 @ 7:49 am

  6. Carla Renata (who was Gary Coleman on the Nat’l Tour of Avenue Q) was also singing I’m A Woman with the Jersey girls and fellow “Q” cast members Danielle Thomas, Kelli Sawyer & Erica Robinson:)

    Comment by Carla Renata — January 16, 2010 @ 1:18 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. | TrackBack URI

Please leave a comment