Review: Broadway's Own Honor Their Italian American Heritage at 54 Below

Amazing talent took to the stage in song on June 20th

By: Jun. 22, 2024
Review: Broadway's Own Honor Their Italian American Heritage at 54 Below
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Bravo, Bellisimo truly describes the wonderful performances seen this evening as 54 Below honored Italian American culture and heritage at That’s Amore on June 20, 2024.  Feeling more like a big family party than a show, the filled-to-capacity audience were thrilled when the band, sitting on a green, white and red backlit stage set the tone with a musical rendition of Dean Martin’s signature hit, “That’s Amore.”

The evening showcased many of Broadway’s own Italian-American performers, who each came to the stage to tell their own Italian American family story and of course, present some of their favorite “Italian” songs.  This reviewer was thrilled to hear these amazingly talented artists playing renowned hit after hit!  Casey Garvin (Some Like It Hot, Mrs. Doubtfire, King Kong, Miss Saigon, Disaster!, Bullets Over Broadway) started the night off with his wonderful version of the traditional “novelty” Italian songs, “Eh Cumpari” (Julius LaRosa) and the Christmas classic, “Dominick the Donkey” (Lou Monte).  Anthony Festa (Miss Saigon national tour, Wicked national tour) spoke of his father’s favorite movie, The Godfather and proceeded to sing “Anthony’s Song” from the acclaimed film which he dedicated to his parents.  The haunting tune was lovingly caressed by his impressive vocals even when switching from English to Italian (we were told in the “Sicilian dialect”). Just as quickly, Festa didn’t miss a beat when he quickly jumped into rock and roll with Billy Joel’s famed “Movin Out.”  Wow! Wow! Wow! Yes, this reviewer along with most of the audience was singing along with him!  Michael Mott (award-winning composer/ lyricist, songwriter, and vocal producer) attired in an understated all black ensemble, showcased his impressive vocal chops with a “hit the back of the room” / unbelievably powerful version of his own compilation of “Innamorata” (Dean Martin) / “Cara Mia” (Jay and The Americans).  Vincent DiPeri (Pretty Woman national tour and How The Grinch Stole Christmas national tour) gave gorgeous interpretation of  “Bella Notte” (Peggy Lee) while Chris Ruggiero (national touring recording artist), decked out in a dashing red and black sequin dinner jacket with black trousers crooned  “Amore, Scusami” (Jerry Vale) and “My Girl” (The Temptations) to round out the gentlemen of the show.  

Now for those incomparable ladies of That’s Amore who themselves packed a powerful punch of song throughout this auspicious evening. Nicole DeLuca (In the Light, Quantico), clad in a blue silk halter top and jeans, took Frank Sinatra’s classic Fly Me To The Moon to a whole new level with her strong vocals, as she recounted her memories of how she and her father always listened to “Ol Blue Eyes” music together. Rachel Zatcoff (Phantom of the Opera, Yiddish Fiddler), proudly showed off her Italian heritage as she strode onto the stage to sing the 1962 cult hit song, “Quando, Quando, Quando” (Tony Renis) in a 60’s-inspired magnificent red bubble mini dress complete with long sparkly earrings and sparkling heels. While  Raquel Nobile Fernandez (Yiddish Fiddler and also the producer of the show), dressed in a white silky gown with a high slit, led theatergoers through the fabulous world of 1950’s “Mambo Italiano” (Rosemary Clooney / Dean Martin) with her sultry vocals.  Finally, Analise Scarpaci (Mrs. Doubtfire, Matilda), clad in a pink floral dress with guitar in hand, brought many close to tears with her soulful rendition of “My Way”, the smash hit renowned songwriter Paul Anka penned specifically for the immortal Frank Sinatra.  

What an evening, what a show, what amazing talent proudly honoring their Italian American heritage! This reviewer was thrilled and still humming  the tunes while leaving the famed venue. Bravissimo I say!  Very well done indeed!

That’s Amore: Celebrating Italian American History featured Casey Garvin, Nicole DeLuca, Vincent DiPeri, Anthony Festa, Rachel Zatcoff, Michael Mott, Chris Ruggiero, Raquel Nobile Fernandez (Producer of the evening’s gala) and Analise Scarpaci.  Band included: Morgan Parker (drums), Charles Santoro (Musical Director and piano), Rick Merino (guitar), Sarah Brett England (accordion). 

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