BWW Review: Benefit Concert for Cabaret Performer and Cancer Patient ERIN CRONICAN is Entertaining and Emotional at Don't Tell Mama

BWW Review: Benefit Concert for Cabaret Performer and Cancer Patient ERIN CRONICAN is Entertaining and Emotional at Don't Tell Mama
Some of Erin Cronican's closest cabaret friends honor her in song.
Left to right: Candice Odin, Richie Eisenberg, Janice Hall, Adam Shapiro.

In the end, I was left with how lucky I was to be able to share my personal expression with so many people that evening. How art is the great connector that transcends all of the barriers that tear a community apart. It made me even more determined to continue to make art happen, even if conventional wisdom says I should be laying low. --Erin Cronican, Actor, Singer, Breast Cancer Patient

There are milestones in everyone's life--events that are so strongly embedded in your memory that you can actually recall the date, the time, the place, and the feelings you had when they occurred. Events like a joyful marriage, the birth of a child, or the loss of a loved one all help to define us as human beings. For a woman you can add to that list a diagnosis of breast cancer. Erin Cronican, a young professional singer, director, writer, show business coach, and self professed "Actor and All-Around fun gal" is a beloved member of the New York theatrical and cabaret communities who is currently undergoing 33 radiation treatments (having previously completed five months of intense chemo therapy) for breast cancer.

BWW Review: Benefit Concert for Cabaret Performer and Cancer Patient ERIN CRONICAN is Entertaining and Emotional at Don't Tell Mama
Benefit show producer Rob Davis
opens with a heartfelt "I Believe."

During a benefit concert in her honor on Saturday night at Don't Tell Mama, Cronican told her friends, relatives, and cabaret and acting colleagues that she actually heard her devastating diagnosis over the phone. Talk about your milestones. The concert (staged by The Committee for the Preservation of Erin Cronican and organized by businessman and cabaret performer Rob Davis) presented an emotionally packed evening of songs presented by cabaret singers and musicians who lovingly contributed their time and talents to create a memorable evening that was a joyful celebration of life. It was an expression of the generosity of the New York cabaret community and an outpouring of the artistic human spirit at its finest.

Rob Davis opened the evening by introducing Stephen Hanks, whose company Cabaret Life Productions donated publicity and promotion work. Hanks started the evening off on a high note by presenting Cronican with a $1,000 check on behalf of the actor Phyllis Newman and her Woman's Health Initiative that is connected to the Actor's Fund. Accompanied on piano by Barry Levitt, Davis then sang a heartfelt "I Believe" followed by the effervescent Tanya Moberly (a 2016 MAC Award nominee) who targeted Cronican in the audience and lovingly belted out the Carol King classic "Beautiful" (accompanied by Bill Zeffiro). Up next was Cronican's close friend Candice Oden who produced a powerhouse belt on "Don't Rain On My Parade." The ever-gracious Marissa Mulder applauded Cronican's strength and courage then with her frequent Musical Director Zeffiro on piano, the duo sang a jaunty by heartfelt "I Won't Last A Day Without You."

BWW Review: Benefit Concert for Cabaret Performer and Cancer Patient ERIN CRONICAN is Entertaining and Emotional at Don't Tell Mama
Walter Willison serenades Erin and the audience.

The mesmerizing Sarah Rice changed the mood and with Matthew Martin Ward on piano, no doubt reminded Cronican of her fighting Irish heritage by singing the Celtic-tinged "The Voice," hitting a note so high and pure that a glass could have cracked with her final note. Then Adam Shapiro absolutely rocked the house singing "Strong" with such fortitude that spontaneous applause erupted before he sung the final note. Divine opera singer turned cabaret star Janice Hall followed sans microphone with a stirring "Where the Music Comes From" by the late American opera composer Lee Hoiby. Mary Lahti picked up the pace with a joyful "Starting Here, Starting Now," with her husband, Jim Lahti accompanying on piano. Broadway veteran, Walter Willison fondly honored Cronican by crooning a hopeful "Sweet Beginning Medley." Although the mic chord came loose during his number, that didn't stop Willison who didn't miss a beat or a note as an audience member handed him the chord. Zach Wobensmith, who was Willison's helpmate with the cord, next followed singing "Help Is On The Way" (with Barry Levitt at the piano). After singer Sue Matsuki led a drawing of tickets for raffle prizes donated by members of the cabaret community, songwriter Richie Eisenberg led the entire cast singing a song especially written for Erin, "All I See Is You."

BWW Review: Benefit Concert for Cabaret Performer and Cancer Patient ERIN CRONICAN is Entertaining and Emotional at Don't Tell Mama
Erin Cronican is clearly a singer . . . and survivor.

Overcome with emotion, Cronican was lovingly beckoned to the stage by her adoring audience and sang in a clear, powerful voice William Finn's "Infinite Joy." As she stood on that stage singing her heart out, I didn't see the director in her, or the actor, or the show biz coach. I saw the artist and I also saw myself six years ago, a Warrior fighting the breast cancer beast--remaining ever vigilant. Now and forever when I look at Erin Cronican I will see a fellow Warrior who I know will survive with great dignity and renewed purpose.

The Prayer of Protection:
(as stated on Erin Cronican's Benefit Concert Program and recited by the audience):

The Light of Life Surrounds Erin
The Love of Life Enfolds Her
The Power of Life Protects Her
The Presence of Life Watches Over Her
Wherever Erin Is, Life Is, and All Is Well.

Musicians: Steven Frieder on Saxophone and Sean Conly on Bass.
Pro-Bono Services were provided by: Adam Shapiro for Graphic Design, Stephen Hanks for Publicity and Promotioin, Tanya Moberly for Show Production, and Stephen Bustamonte for Video Services.

A special encore performance will be held on Saturday, March 5th at 5 PM at Don't Tell Mama. Make reservations at www.dontellmamanyc.com or you can make a contribution directly to Erin Cronican at www.crowdrise.com/cabaretbeatscancer .

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