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BWW Blog: NYC Vocal Coach Robert Marks - 'Youngstars' Professional Children's Showcase

Before the musical Annie came to Broadway in 1977, few shows besides Oliver and The Sound of Music featured singing and dancing kids. There was the occasional child role in shows such as The Music Man and Peter Pan, but nowhere near the number of opportunities for skilled and talented kids on Broadway today. So in 1980, when I got a call to be the musical director and host of a New York City revue of professional show business kids, it was something new and different. As a matter of fact, the show would be taking place at the aptly named Something Different, New York's first "Dessert Nightclub" on the Upper East Side. The club was owned by Patricia Young, and besides the uncommon alcohol-free menu, the entire waitstaff was comprised of singers, who performed all night long.

Patricia named the weekend daytime children's shows "Youngstars," and it was a huge success from the start. Family outings, birthday celebrations, and holiday parties all were part of the Youngstars audience. Irene Cara, one of stars of the film Fame, wrote the Youngstars theme song, and several times each weekend I would sit at the upright piano and introduce "New York's first professional showcase of professional kids." One after another, about a dozen young singers grabbed the microphone, and sang the songs we had rehearsed during the week. Several times a year we held auditions for new kids, and I'm proud to say that we got the best kids from Broadway, film, and TV. Youngstars included Sarah Jessica Parker, Debbie Gibson, Seth Rudetsky, Kerry Butler, Scott Grimes, Ricki Lake, and too many others to count. If you'd like to see a news feature from the 1980s about the show, check it out below:

Everything comes to an end, and after several years Something Different finally shut its doors. But even today, more than 30 years later, the special bond of being a Youngstar is something that is always remembered with fondness and laughs by those who were lucky enough to be part of the experience, onstage or in the audience. 

Robert Marks with Debbie Gibson

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