Welcome to Westfield on Weekends!

Westfield on Weekends (WOW) has announced the lineup for “WOW! … It’s Cabaret!”  a new musical series featuring professional cabaret artists from New York City, Boston and Western Massachusetts to be held during the coming months in the Great Room of the Westfield Senior Center, 45 Noble Street in Westfield.

The spring series will open with Canoe: The Musical, spotlighting Pioneer Valley performers, Mary Brown Bonacci, Bob Plasse and Michael Rheault on Friday, March 31st at 8 pm, to be followed by Songs from the Heart starring international cabaret stars, Linda Mironti and Bobby Peaco, Friday, April 28th at 8 pm.  The season will culminate on Friday, June 2nd at 8 pm with Up-close and Unpredictable, headlining singer/ comedienne Carol O’Shaughnessy, who has been called the “The first lady of Boston cabaret,” accompanied by with noted  musician/arranger Tom LaMark.

The Concept of Cabaret:
In producing the series, WOW hopes to introduce audiences to the concept of cabaret.
“Many remember the highly successful cabaret series held at Piccolo’s Restaurant some years back, but for those who did not attend, we hope that they will discover and enjoy this unique form of entertainment,” says Amy Tosi, WOW programming chair.
“Cabaret performances offer audiences the chance to experience musical artists in intimate settings with shows that can be scripted and directed as a theater piece or with a program of music that specifically reflects the thoughts and feelings of the artist and/or directly relates to a specific theme,” she continued.
The Great Room at the Westfield Senior Center was chosen for its central location and accessible parking, but because it  provides WOW with an attractive venue that will be transformed into an intimate performance space through theatrical lighting and “WOW’s creative magic,” as Tosi calls it.
According to Tosi, each of the shows represents a different take on cabaret with professional entertainers, who may be remembered from former appearances presented some years ago at  the former Piccolo’s Restaurant on Elm street in downtown Westfield or from their work on area stages.

Canoe: The Musical to Open Series on Friday, March 31
The series will open with Canoe: the Musical, headlined by Mary Brown Bonacci, Bob Plasse, Michael Rheault, three area residents whose musical careers have taken them from New York to Europe.
They will be performing a scripted “cabaret musical” that traces the course of a marriage through dialogue and songs from Broadway, Hollywood and the American Songbook. Originally created by its trio of performers and produced for the Buffalo Canoe Club on Lake Erie, the show received rave reviews for  its funny, yet moving storyline and its unique use of slide projections, which provide information on the songs sung and graceful transitions from scene to scene.
Mary Brown Bonacci is adept several musical idioms from opera and classical music to jazz, pop and Broadway. A mezzo-soprano, Ms. Bonacci has appeared with companies across the United States and in Europe, including Opera Company Brooklyn, the Utah Festival Opera, the Kansas City Lyric Opera, the Hampshire Choral Society, the Arcadia Players and Opera Perigord (La Perichole). 
Recently she appeared with the American Pops Orchestra at the Plaza Hotel in New York and with Wynton Marsalis for the Jazz at Lincoln Center series. Ms. Bonacci is Associate Professor in applied voice, pedagogy snd opera/music theatre at Westfield State University.
Bob Plasse is known to listeners of WSKB (Westfield State University’s radio station) as the host of a Tuesday morning talk show and to area residents who know him as the former president of Westfield on Weekends, chair of Westfield Dickens Days and from his appearances with candles atop his head as “The Ghost of Christmas Present” at WOW’s Dickens Dinners.
His professional acting career includes leading roles in productions of Godspell, The Fantasticks and P.S. Your Cat is Dead;  a tour of the South in Dial M for Murder;  television commercials; soap operas (Guiding Light, One Life to Live and All My Children); and several movies, including Big, New York Stories and Goodfellas.
Composer/arranger/pianist Michael Rheault’s resume includes his Off-Broadway musical Fabulous: The Queen of Musical Comedies, which had an extended run in 2014 at the Times Square Arts Center; The Birth, a Christmas musical; the chamber musical Neurotica; and the soundtrack of the independent documentary, Names from Home.   He has also provided musical direction for scores of area musicals at local colleges and theatre groups and is currently Director of Choral Activities at Bay Path University.

Songs from the Heart on Friday, April 28th
Songs from the Heart, the second show in the series on Friday, April 28th will feature Linda Mironti, who has made three appearances in Westfield, including a successful fundraiser to build the Amelia Park Children’s Museum and two other appearances at Piccolo’s. According to Ms. Mironti, the show includes songs that “burrow deep into the heart and if they are not sung, the heart will burst.”
Ms. Mironti spent ten years performing on Italian television and on musical stages from Milan to Sicily, singing blues, jazz, rhythm and blues, and original pop material she wrote for herself and other artists. She recorded and co-wrote the soundtrack for an Italian major motion picture, “18 in a Week” and recorded two albums still sold throughout Europe. Linda has been performing her one-woman shows all across the United States to much acclaim.
For the more than three decades, Mironti’s arranger and accompaniest, Bobby Peaco has graced the club and cabaret circuit of New York City with nine MAC awards and six Backstage Bistro Awards to his credit. As composer, writer and featured performer, he has appeared in two critically acclaimed cabaret pieces, Erik and the Snow Maidens and Indigo Rat. This will be his fourteenth summer entertaining at Montparnasse Piano Bar in Mykonos, Greece

Up-Close and Unpredictable on Friday, June 3
Singer/ comedienne Carol O’Shaughnessy will round out the series on Friday, June 2nd with Up-Close and Unpredictable, a show that mixes O’Shaughnessy’s distinctive musical stylings with her comic reflections of the times, spot-on impressions and a roster of zany characters, including “Mama Scugliachi.”
With several awards to her credit including Boston’s “Cabaret Entertainer of the Year,” she has taken her one-woman shows from Town Hall in New York City to Boston’s Jordan Hall, The Regattabar, Scullers Jazz Club and Club Cafe; has appeared with such stars, as Joan Rivers, David Brenner and Pat Cooper; and proved an audience favorite at Piccolo’s, where she performed three times. Ms. O’Shaughnessy will be accompanied by her pianist/arranger Tom LaMark, a respected musician in the Boston area, who has accompanied such notables as Aretha Franklin, Donna Summer and  the Smothers Brothers and has played with such jazz greats as Dizzy Gillespie , Phil Woods and Buddy Rich.   The Tom LaMark Orchestra are frequent performers at The Ritz Boston Common, The Four Seasons Hotel, The Seaport Hotel, The Boston Harbor Hotel, The Copley Plaza and The Taj Boston. 

Ticket and Reservation Information
Tickets for the “WOW… It’s Cabaret” series are $25 for an individual show with a series subscription package of all three shows, available for $65. Reservations may be made by calling 413- 579-5967, by visiting Westfield Creative Arts at 105 Elm Street during regular store hours. Tickets can also be purchased below.

Doors will open at 7:15. Coffee and desserts will be available for sale at intermission.

Funding for the series has been provided in part with a grant from the Westfield Cultural Council, a program of the Massachusetts Cultural Council and with the assistance of the Westfield Council on Aging.

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