As guests were having their main course, classic songs by Dolly Parton (“9 to 5” and “I Will Always Love You”) and The Weather Girls (“It’s Raining Men”) played in the background.
Actress and founder of Cancer Schmancer, Fran Drescher (The Nanny) made the opening remarks, welcoming everybody to this annual fundraising event, which was accompanied with a moving speech. “This life mission has given me so much purpose, so much value and meaning. I’ve been filled with incredible silver linings. Sometimes, the best gifts come in the ugliest packages,” she said.
She went on to express her gratitude to the Hornblower Infinity for donating everything for this event. “Thank you Hornblower,” she said, and praised their organic dinner for being “delicious.” She praised Caudalie for their skin-care line (and their products being clean and safe), Lorraine Patisserie (for their goodies), as well as Savor Health. She also thanked Tiffany Pauline, who comes every year with her family, and all of the artists who were performing at this event. “You make the party, and we couldn’t do it without you and we love you,” she said.
Drescher thanked Ann Hampton Callaway (who sang “The Nanny” theme song with her sister Liz Callaway), for co-producing tonight’s program with musical director, Alex Rybeck, who was rehearsing with all of the talent in the afternoon.
A major shout-out went to Al Sophianopoulos, whom she described as “a great, die-hard of the organization,” as well as Cancer Schmancer executive director Susan Holland. “We are a lean, mean fighting machine. We don’t even rent office space. Your dollars go to our programs. We don’t waste a dime. Everybody works virtually,” she said. “My executive director and the life-line of this company, Susan Holland, who started as a volunteer, and is now the executive director of the company.”
Review of Musical Event
Nathan Lucrezio from the musical Aladdin, kicked off the show with “Something’s Coming” and “Blues in the Night,” where she showed the impressive control in his voice. It was followed by Jessica Fontana and Santino Fontana singing together on “Love Is An Open Door” and “Ten Minutes Ago.” Randy Graff, who originated the role of Fantine Les Misérables, sang “You Can Always Count On Me” and “Alfie,” the latter of which she dubbed as her favorite song in the world.
Award-winning cabaret vocalist Lucia Spina sang “I Feel Pretty” and “The Boy From,” while twin brothers Will and Anthony Nunziata stole the show with their empowering performances of “The Gift Is You” and “Get Happy/Happy Days.”
The Love Boat’s Jill Whelan sang a witty rendition of “There’s No Business Like Show Business a la Loveboat,” while Ann Hampton Callaway and Liz Callaway sang an upbeat version of their famous theme song of “The Nanny,” which was met with an enormous response.
The Nanny actress returned to the stage to introduce her former husband, Peter Marc Jacobson, who would later become known as “Fran Drescher’s gay ex-husband.” He performed “I Chose Right” and “What If We Had Loved Like That?” as a duet with vocal coach Karen Benjamin. Liz Callaway returned to sing “Journey To The Past,” which was sheer bliss, and equally stunning was the duet “Suddenly Seymour,” which featured Seth Rudetsky and Jennifer Simard (who stars in Hello, Dolly!). Randy Roberts sang a fun Cher medley that included “The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s In His Kiss).”
Veteran actor and Tony winner Len Cariou sang a memorable medley of Stephen Sondheim classics, including his Sweeney Todd song. It closed with a special performance by Ann Hampton Callaway, where she sang a tune that she wrote for Barbra Streisand, entitled “At The Same Time.”
Fran Drescher sat down and chatted with Digital Journal prior to the Cabaret Cruise about the importance of this event and her future plans.
On May 3, Drescher was honored by her college, Queens College, with the prestigious “Queens College Lifetime Achievement Award,” at a GALA event that took place in New York City, where she was honored with two other influential women.