On Saturday evening, January 21st, a packed house gathered at the Clare Rose Playhouse located on the St. Joseph’s College campus for the musical sensation “Even Now”. Musical Director Lydia Sabosto on keyboard, and her hand picked ensemble, Carol Cole on congas, Frank Hansen on upright and electric bass, JoAnn Palana-Stone on drums along with lead singer Richard Fisichello were all host to this fabulous tribute to the one and only Barry Manilow. “Even Now”, written and directed by Lydia Sabosto and Bob Maletta was performed before a sold-out theatre and with good reason. At 8p.m. with lights down the band members followed by Lydia Sabosto entered to quiet whispers of excitement and hardy applause. Suddenly, a blast of light and sound filled the stage to the triumphant tune of Manilow’s “It’s A Miracle”. In her true, casual yet elegant style, Sabosto narrated an extensive script that chronicled accounts depicting a barrage of stories about Manilow from boyhood to universal stardom. Throughout the thread, Sabosto never wavered in an attempt to inform the audience of all the little subtleties and major asides that make Barry Manilow, his words and songs so legendary.
The audience enjoyed a sing along after the first number. Thunderous handclapping and enthusiastic participation were all part of a segment in the show set aside for recapping all of Barry Manilow’s TV commercial jingles he had written early on in his career. Candis Alek surprised everyone and hit a high B-flat from her seat in the audience during the sing along, shocking not only the players on stage, but also fellow spectators attending the performance. Soon after, solo artist Richard Fisichello took center stage under a hot spotlight to perform a medley of songs honing in on both grace and style the words and sounds that give way to the whole Manilow experience. Songs like, Could It Be Magic, Mandy, I Write The Songs, Weekend In New England, Starting Again, Old Songs, Ready To Take A Chance Again, I Don’t Want To Walk Without You, Day Break, Looks Like We Made It and Even Now were honestly delivered by the outstanding vocalist who performed all of Manilow’s music with sheer ease and total perfection. At the conclusion of each song, Fisichello heard the loud approval, whistles and cheers of a very supportive audience. In between, off and then back on stage, Richard Fisichello joined Lydia Sabosto in two mindful duets including I Was A Fool To Let You Go, and Slow Boat To China.
Lydia Sabosto tenderly captured the audience with her own solo performance featuring a fast moving Jump Shout, Boogie, and a more thoughtful, sentimental number namely, When October Goes. Both songs were examples of the many, but only two extremes of an extraordinary, rare talent. As a special added bonus, fellow “Fanilows” were treated to Richard Fisichello, Steve Lynch and members of the Sweet Adeline’s singing Manilow’s memorable One Voice. What harmony! How Beautiful!
Who could forget the last number of the evening when Lydia Sabosto on keyboard, and the rest of her band joined Richard Fisichello who jumped on stage fully clad in a very silver lame’ jacket and stylish black, silk cummerbund. We were all transfixed and transcended to a tropical, South American paradise while hearing the Latin beat heard in Fisichello’s vocal to Manilow’s Copacabana.
The night drew to a close, when Lydia gave thanks to her fellow director Bob Maletta, solo artist Richard Fisichello, her band ensemble, her brother Wayne Sabosto for the loan of his drum set, Steve Lynch and the Sweet Adeline’s, production members Sr. Grace and the staff at the Clare Rose Playhouse, “Rainbow” Dee Johnson, Dee Petersen, and Marie Cortina for advertising/ticket sales, lighting director Paul Scala, sound crew 2-4-1 Christine and Robin, and a special thanks again to Dee Johnson, Eveline Marcello and Margie Luciano who happen to be dear friends that videotaped the entire production. More bows, more applause, were followed by lights down. The crowd departed for a meet and greet with the cast in the lobby of the theatre, What a night! For the many I spoke with, Even Now should be retitled Even Now and Forever!