Last Tuesday, at EPIC Players 2019 annual fund raiser, we reached and exceeded our goal. A big thank you goes out for the incredible efforts of our Executive Director Aubrie Therrien, Cabaret Music Director Jonathan Ivie and all of the talented, passionate EPIC performers. Everyone sang their hearts out and gave moving speeches. In response, the audience was inspired to donate $40,000—which was over and above our $38,000 goal.
Despite any organizational obstacles, last minute changes in venue and a less than perfect date during the Passover holiday, EPIC managed to sell out all 122 seats in the Clark Theater at Lincoln Center. Pappardella generously catered the event for free and offered a 20% discount to diners after the show. Also contributing to the success of the evening were Broadway performers and special guests: Darren Ritchie, Jared Bradshaw, Amaker Smith and EPIC Board Member Katie Ivie.
For most audience members, the heart and soul of the EPIC4Autism Cabaret were the “Songs from the Spectrum” performed by the many talented EPIC Players including the EPIC Ensemble and Little Shop of Horrors Ensemble, which offered a preview of the company’s upcoming musical production from June 6th – 16th (Tickets are now available on-line at www.epicplayersnyc.org )
The variety of songs was as dazzling as the groups of singers performing them. Early in the program the audience heard “I Hope I Get It” (Chorus Line) filled with energy and yearning from a quintet including my daughter, Samantha Elisofon, Andrew Kader, Paul DeVincenzo, Gianluca Cirafici and Katie Ivy. There was a joyful solo—“I Got Rhythm” from Gideon Pianko—mixed in with Beatles’ songs “With a Little Help from My Friends” and “All You Need Is Love” performed in groups featuring Nick Moscato, Kathryn Cristofano, Lulu Ferrer and Anton Spivack. Anton also performed in two duets “All I Ask of You” (Phantom of the Opera) and “One Hand, One Heart (West Side Story) with Samantha. Joining in the evening’s fun was Talia Eapen, EPIC’s Director of Operations, making her singing debut in a quartet with Andrew Kader, Zach Lichterman and Kylie Hogrefe performing “High Hopes.”
In between songs and raffle breaks, the audience was treated to poignant speeches from Anton Spivack, Jessie Leppert, and Whitney Blythe about what EPIC means to them, how the theater group has enriched their lives by providing a sense of belonging as well as opportunities to learn and perform. Audience members also demonstrated their sense of belonging to the EPIC community by generously donating and bidding at our live auction. Who encouraged everyone to reach deeper into their hearts and pocket books? Board members Katie Ivie, Dan Garfinkel, Stacy Nettleton and yours truly with Aubrie as cheerleader.
After the final song, “We are the Champions,” (Queen), everyone in the theater felt victorious; together, we were winning participants in a successful event. The audience exited to find delicious desserts waiting to revive anyone with flagging energy, keeping our spirits and blood sugar high. What a sweet ending to a truly EPIC evening!