An evening with Isabella and friends

By LINDA LEUZZI
Posted 12/4/19

The Broadway stars of Gateway’s 2019 summer season — “The Sound of Music,” “On Your Feet,” “Kinky Boots” and “Memphis” — will join …

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An evening with Isabella and friends

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The Broadway stars of Gateway’s 2019 summer season — “The Sound of Music,” “On Your Feet,” “Kinky Boots” and “Memphis” — will join film star Isabella Rossellini onstage at The Gateway, along with poet Christopher Knowles, film animator Hugo Guinness, artist of light Lia Chavez and singer Nadia Quinn (fresh from her recent sold-out performance at Feinstein’s 54 Below). “Isabella and Friends” is a one-night-only show and fundraiser for the beloved Bellport theater, which is celebrating its 70th year. 

“It was Isabella’s idea to be the headliner, and she had great suggestions to tie in with the songs,” said executive artistic director Paul Allan of Rossellini’s role as host and collaborator.She’s really become close with us and loves what we do.”

Did all the stars say yes when vice president of development and public relations Scot Allan called for support?

Yep! (Or mostly, yep!)

“We asked Brandi Burkhardt and Ryan K. Bailer first (“The Sound of Music”), then Marina Pires from “On Your Feet,” then Moeisha McGill (“Memphis”) and Lukas Poost (“Kinky Boots”),” said Paul Allan. “Only one said no because of other commitments. These stars are all so supportive and love the village and the theatre.”

Burkhardt, who played a luminous Maria, said she was eager to fly in from Los Angeles for the Gateway gig at holiday time.

“Isabella chose the people she wanted for the evening, and I feel so honored,” Burkhardt said. “And (“The Sound of Music”) was a wonderful experience with the kids and the acting school, so when they asked me, I couldn’t say no. Also, I can’t wait to be in Bellport at Christmastime.”

Besides singing “Finding Wonderland” from “Wonderland: The New Alice,” Burkhardt will team up in song with her Maria understudy, Megan McGinnis. McGinnis stepped in on closing night when
Burkhardt was stymied with laryngitis. 

Scot Allan, he of the high-energy Gateway introductions, will co-host with Rossellini and sing a duet with acting school director and associate artistic director Michael Baker, who is directing the show.

Rossellini is showing short clips of her imaginative series “Mammas,” an unconventional, humorous look at the natural world. And she’ll pop in with costumes, made in Paris, and brief performances.

“The Bellport population has changed a lot,” explained Rossellini of the mix of film, Broadway, music, poetry and art. “There are a lot of people who buy homes now who also live in New York City, and my feeling is that the New Yorkers don’t come to the Gateway musicals because they see them on Broadway. So we reached out to include artistic locals like poet Christopher Knowles; Hugo Guinness, who does animation; performances not traditional in musical theater. It’s a way to create community.”

Spoiler alert: Did you know that Stanford White designed the ballroom of the big white house on the grounds? Andrea Coddrington Lippke will provide the history of The Gateway and that fascinating fact.

“A beautiful art installation begins the evening by Lia Chavez,” added Baker. 

As for surprises, the entertainment mix will punch up the evening. “Caleb Lane and Emily Young are local actors and writers who were part of the ‘Porch Songs’ happenings at Isabella’s farm and at someone’s home who will perform,” he said. 

Baker explained that the evening isn’t just an ordinary gala. 

“It’s about the power of the imagination and entertainment in the world of Long Island,” he emphasized. “We have to educate the community on how we exist.”

For tickets to “Isabella and Friends,” on Dec. 14 at 7:30 p.m., call the box office at 631-286-1133 or click online at www.thegateway.org.

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