Gifts of Love:  The Words and Music of Stephen Schwartz
by Marc Mantell for GRACE NOTES, Feb. 10, 2013

Gifts of Love was a sensational cabaret concert to benefit the musical theatre program at Summit View School. Producer Dianne Fraser and associate producer Adryan Russ should feel proud of their accomplishment in putting together such a well paced, thoroughly tuneful and entertaining show.  Emmy Award nominated actress Carolyn Hennesy was the perfect Mistress of Ceremonies. With her attractive persona and a dry wit, she presented notes on the assorted songs and the musicals they were from. This benefit proved to be a great introduction for a new audience to learn about composer Stephen Schwartz and his contribution to musical theatre.

The Lighting and Sound Design were technically perfect. The band: Mitch Kaplan, Scott D. Olsen. Valerie Taylor and Denise Fraser….the best! The arrangements, orchestrations of numbers like “Meadowlark” and “Rags,” were first rate. This group of musical artists was a gift for both the performers and audience!

As for the lineup of Mr. Schwartz’s memorable numbers, they covered the bases from his premiere musical Godspell to his current mega hit, Wicked. And to match the excitement, depth and emotional context of each — this concert had a cast of wonderful performers to do them justice. Everyone had a chance to shine brightly and here they are:  Terron Brooks, Palmer Davis, Julie Garnye, Dan Callaway, Juliana Hansen, Joanne O’Brien, Dennis Kyle, Louise Marie Cornillez, Tal Fox, Kelly Lester, James C. Mulligan, with Dianne Fraser and Mitch Kaplan who also performed…. Bravo!

Gifts of Love