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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Follies Stars Sing Cole Porter

Follies Graduates to Return to Bridgeport for Follies Benefit

The stars from past Fairfield Follies shows will be coming to Bridgeport’s Downtown Cabaret Theatre to dazzle audiences with their professional talents in a review of Cole Porter’s musical gems. Each of the ten performers has used Follies as a springboard in pursuit of further theatrical education and performance careers. By appearing in this benefit show, these rising stars are saying thanks, Follies, for teaching and refining their stage skills and motivating them to follow their dreams.

“Follies Stars Sing Cole Porter” will take place at 7:30PM on Wednesday, February 29th, 2012 at the Downtown Cabaret Theatre, 263 Golden Hill Street, Bridgeport. Tickets, priced at $35, can be reserved by calling 203-452-9375. Tickets will be held at the box office for pick-up prior to the performance. Tasty boxed dinners (choice of grilled chicken, sliced sirloin of beef, or vegetarian) can be ordered for $14 if order is included with ticket purchase. Audience members can also bring their own food. Beverages, desserts and snacks will also be available for purchase at the theatre. The Downtown Cabaret is easily accessed off of Exit 2 on the Route 8/25 Connector. Attended parking is available for $2. The doors will open at 6:45 for those wishing to start their dinners before the show.

A major part of the Great American Song Book, Cole Porter’s music has been beloved for decades and continues to endure as favorites among audiences today. The Follies alumni will perform nearly thirty Cole Porter songs including such classics as “I Love Paris,” “Begin the Beguine,” “Night and Day,” and “I’ve Got You Under My Skin.” Many of the songs come from Broadway shows such as “Kiss Me Kate,” “Can Can,” and “Anything Goes.”

Established in 2000, Fairfield Follies has impacted the lives of nearly1,000 high school students from the greater Bridgeport region and throughout Fairfield County, and has introduced audiences to the immense talents of these youngsters. Follies, which takes place for three performance each year in May, consists of expertly staged, costumed and choreographed musical numbers from current and past Broadway shows. Cast members from Bridgeport and suburban schools, are chosen in open auditions early in February. Garret Stack, the host of Broadway Bound, a radio program on WMNR Fine Arts Radio, has said, “Ever wonder where the next generation of Broadway stars is coming from? Take it from me, they’re in Follies today and they’re Broadway Bound.” The Follies Stars Show will provide convincing proof of Stack’s prediction

The net proceeds from “Follies Stars Sing Cole Porter” will benefit the Fairfield Follies Foundation, a 501(c) 3 organization responsible for producing the annual Follies show and promoting and supporting theatrical and musical arts education in the region.

Seating for this memorable one-night performance is limited, so early reservations are highly recommended. More information about Follies, including performance schedules, and tax-deductible financial support opportunities can be found on the website

The cast of “Follies Stars Sing Cole Porter” consists of:

Amanda Bilger, originally from Trumbull, was part of Follies in 2004 and 2005. She studied musical theatre at Marymount Manhattan College. Ms. Bilger was seen as the female understudy in the Off-Broadway children's musical The Ohmies which played at The Peter Jay Sharp Theater. She sang roles on several Stage Stars Records CDs including the track of Serena in Legally Blonde. Amanda says “I hope to help keep Follies flourishing in order to give others the same artistic opportunities I had, so that their lives, too, will be changed forever.”

Brett Boles, a graduate of Newtown High School, received his degree in Music Composition from Ithaca College. He served as Follies assistant music director in 2008. In theatre performances he has appeared as Tony in West Side Story, Radames in Aida, Mickey in Blood Brothers, Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls, and an ensemble role in Les Miserables on Broadway in 2003. A member of the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theater Workshop in NYC and the Advanced Writer's Lab of the New Opera and Musical Theater Initiative in Boston, Mr. Boles’ musical Foreverman (for which he wrote the book, music, and lyrics) will soon receive its debut performance.

Latoya Edwards, currently perusing a BFA degree in musical theatre at Pace University, is a graduate of Bridgeport’s Central High School. Ms. Edwards appeared in Follies 2011as Felicia in Memphis the Musical, Whatsername in American Idiot, Dynamite in Hairspray, and Marcy Park in 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Latoya credits her participation in Follies as instrumental in helping her achieve her educational and theatrical goals.

Molly Garbe, who hails from Fairfield, and was a cast member of Follies 2004 and 2005, has been featured in many stage productions including the national touring company’s production of Little Women: The Musical and a motion picture called Local Warming. Other recent credits include Big River (Westchester Broadway Theatre), The Producers (Ivoryton Playhouse), Parade (The Secret Theatre), Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (The Downtown Cabaret).

Kyle Garvin, a graduate of Bridgeport’s Central High School, appeared in Follies 2003 and 2004. He received his BFA degree in Theatre Arts from the University of the Arts. His credits include touring internationally in various Nickelodeon and HIT Entertainment shows: Go Diego Go LIVE!, and Thomas and Friends LIVE! In the United States, Canada, Australia and Asia. Mr. Garvin has appeared in the Broadway National Tour of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and Debbie Allen’s Twist: An American Musical.

Carissa Massaro, a graduate of Trumbull’s St. Joseph High School, was featured in four Follies shows from 2004 through 2007. She received her BFA degree from Wagner College majoring in Theatre Performance with a minor in English. Some of her theatrical credits include: the Broadway production of Jane Eyre as the understudy for the role of young Jane Adele, Olive Ostrovsky in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Delee Lively in Smokey Joe's Cafe, Karessa Johnson in tick...tick...BOOM!, Belle in Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella in Into the Woods. Ms Massaro is a member of Actors’ Equity.

Kenny Metzger is a recent graduate of Syracuse University holding a BFA in musical theatre. He was a part of Follies from 2004-2007 when he was a student at Trumbull High School. His regional credits include Kiss Me, Kate, Footloose, Damn Yankees, Singin’ in the Rain, Beauty and the Beast, and Bye Bye Birdie (MUNY). At Syracuse University he was featured in Cabaret (Cliff), Two Gentlemen of Verona (Valentine), Little By Little (Man 1), and Oklahoma! (Chalmers), The Man Who, I Love Him, and Rocky Horror. Mr. Metzger is a member of Actors’ Equity.

Jim Nassef, from Fairfield and a cast member of Follies 2004 through 2006, has already had a varied and active theatrical career, including playing Hugo in the National tour of Bye Bye Birdie. He has also appeared as Link Larkin in Bridgeport Theatre Company's production of Hairspray. He has been in Little Women and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Hartford Children's Theatre; Xanadu and The Rocky Horror Show at the ReVision Theatre; School House Rock, Live! at the Downtown Cabaret Theatre; Violet and Johnny Guitar at The Theater Barn. Mr. Nasser received his BFA training from The Boston Conservatory and is a candidate member of Actors’ Equity.
Garth West graduated from Bridgeport’s Central High School in 2005. Since then he has performed in numerous productions throughout Connecticut with different theater companies. Most recent credits include Hairspray (playing the character of Seaweed J Stubbs), Songs for A New World (Man 1), Chicago (MC), Rent (Tom Collins) and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Comfort Counselor). Mr. Garth is excited about being part of the Follies alumni show so he can help today’s Follies cast obtain the experiences that helped him pursue his dreams of a theatrical career.

Michael Wright, a graduate of Trumbull High School and a cast member of Follies 2001 and 2002, received his B.A. in Theatre Studies at Emerson College. He has been in the National Tour of Jesus Christ Superstar in the role of Annas with Ted Neeley and Corey Glover. He appeared in Bat Boy: The Musical, and Rent both at the Red Mountain Theatre Company in Birmingham, AL, and in the world premiere of Battle Cry in Gettysburg, PA. He played Simeon in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Downtown Cabaret. Mr. Wright is glad to participate in “Follies Stars Sing Cole Porter” to help this year’s cast obtain the opportunity it gives “young people from different financial, spiritual, cultural, and religious worlds to all work together towards a common goal and form countless lifelong friendships.”


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