Where else in New England can you witness stand-up comedy, live music, first-class magic acts, and much more, all in one night on a single stage?
That’s what happens when a professional magician from Warwick and a ukulele player from Hawaii join forces to create a show that pays homage to classic variety shows popular in the 50s and 60s, featuring performers from Rhode Island and beyond, and celebrates the 40th anniversary of the Elizabeth Buffum Chace Center. The 2019 “Something For Everyone” Variety Show will take place this Saturday at the Greenwich Odeum Theater, beginning at 8 p.m. and hosted by Christina Erne of Channel 10 (WJAR).
The show, which has sold out of tickets, expects an audience of more than 400 to bear witness to local performers as they combine their talents to create a medley of class-acts. While musical styles and the performing arts have certainly changed since the golden age of the variety show style of program, that classic experience of seeing all different types of entertainment in one night is something that executive producer Toby Rose and director Guy Kahokulani Imoto hope to recreate faithfully.
Both share fond memories of crowding around the television with family members to watch variety television – specifically The Ed Sullivan Show, television’s longest running variety show that aired for over 20 years from the late 40s to the early 70s.
It was a weekly program that featured dancers, singers, circus acts, comedians, and much more, and many famous performers – including The Beatles and Elvis Presley – made their way onto screens throughout America via the show. Bringing that style seamlessly back into 2019 is no small feat, but the show is armed with some of New England’s best entertainers to breathe life back into a largely forgotten form of presentation.
Several live musicians will be taking the stage, including the Boston Premier Band, a group that has been selected as a 2019 winner of The Knot’s “Best of Weddings” award for their wedding performances. The first act of the show will also feature two RI-based groups: the Cross Rhode Blues, a musical duo who recently dropped a second album in 2018, and the Good Vibe Tribe, an ensemble led by Gary Hopp that has been booked across the Ocean State. Solo vocalists will also be performing, including Luann Dutra, Vanessa Martin, Candida Rose, and Robert Black, whom Rose describes as “the Elvis of New England.” Entertainers Erik Rochelle and Marvelous Marvin will also perform.
After a brief intermission will follow comedian Brian Vincent and magician Adam Wilber. Imoto himself will also provide a vocal performance accompanied by ukulele. The event will be rounded off with a surprise finale, but if the rest of the show is any indication, there’s going to be no holds barred in sending off an already high-energy cast of performers.
While a member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians and a seasoned performer, Tom Rose himself won’t be taking the stage this time; rather, he’s proud to have assembled a powerhouse team of performers that is sure to give any audience an unforgettable experience.
“Because of our age group, this is what we remember,” said Rose. “It’s so different than what you’re accustomed to seeing today.”
While he said that songs by modern artists like Bruno Mars might not be found in traditional variety shows, the all-in-one appeal to the experience will remain; about a dozen acts are all available for one $50 price.
“Life is variety,” said Imoto, who joined Rose in reminiscing about the glory days of vaudeville-style entertainment. As a musician himself who has performed frequently at Crestwood Country Club, his love of performing arts has earned him a name in the community as an energetic performer. Upon meeting Tom Rose, their mutual passion for the variety style of program got them to brainstorm methods to bring the style into the 21st century – and into Rhode Island. Following his recent marriage in May, Imoto plans to return to Hawaii soon with his wife Maggie Imoto; all the more reason to go all out with this last big Ocean State performance before his departure.
The Greenwich Odeum, where the show will be held, is described as the “Apollo Theater for the people of Rhode Island” by Rose.
“I had to wait for a guy from Hawaii to get me in my hometown’s theater!” he said, the irony not getting lost on him. But now that the chance is here, Rose plans to create an experience that will bring nostalgia for those familiar with variety, and something new for the more recent generations.
Sponsors and donors have provided approximately $8,000 to fund the event, including the Summit Medical Compassion Center, Patti’s Painting and Wallpapering, and an unidentified “Mr. Anonymous.”
All ticket funds raised will go to the Elizabeth Buffum Chace Center, which works to support victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Imoto says that ensuring the availability of resources for domestic violence victims, regardless of gender, is a cause that he finds vital to support.