The Grammy nominated, Ilene Graff and her husband, ASCAP Award-winning composer Ben Lanzarone, gave sold out audiences at Los Angeles' Cabaret at the Castle a night to remember. Yes, Ms Graff may be best known to regular audiences as Marsha Owens, the Mom on the long running ABC comedy MR. BELVEDERE but like other great TV Moms before her such as June Lockhart, Florence Henderson, Shirley Jones or Bea Arthur, it was the Great White Way that sparked her brilliance first. From the Castle stage, Ilene performed songs from Broadway and the movies, with a classy style all her own. Many numbers were from shows she is well known for including PROMISES, PROMISES by Neil Simon with Bacharach and David as well as the role of Sandy in the Broadway production of GREASE and from some call her biggest triumph in the role she created of Cleo in the Cy Coleman, Michael Stewart musical comedy hit I LOVE MY WIFE, directed by Tony Award winner Gene Saks.
Among the selected tunes that won the patrons hearts and ears this evening were LULLABY ON BROADWAY from 42nd STREET; LITTLE THINGS from COMPANY; WHEREVER WE GO from GYPSY; THE IMPOSSIBLE DREAM from MAN OF LA MANCHA; WONDERFUL GUY from SOUTH PACIFIC (which she co-starred with Glenn Close and on Harry Connick, Jr in the 2001 screen version) as well as a medley from PORGY and BESS by George and Ira Gershwin. There was also a touching moment when Ilene dedicated medley from GREASE to "One of the greatest Danny Zuko's ever - Mr. Patrick Swayze," that included an audience participative Hand Jive.
Recognizable faces in the audience included, Carole Cook, Romi Dame, Kate Linder, Channing Chase, Patrika Darba, Mary Jo Catlett, Karen Morrow, Jason Graae, and a personal favorite of both Ilene and Ben, Miss Melissa Manchester, as well as two artists with their own shows coming soon to Cabaret at the Castle - Julie Garnye (Sept 28th) and Joanne Worley (Oct 4 & 5).
Cabaret at the Castle has become THE destination spot for cabaret in Los Angeles - Shows produced by the Magic Castle's own Matt Patton have included personalities such as Jason Graae, Rachel York, Natalie Toro, Richard Sherman and the bigger than life, Carol Channing. He has also created the popular Legend Series featuring Phyllis Diller, Rose Marie and Tony Curtis.
The Magic Castle, where the cabaret is housed, is the world's most famous club for magicians and magic enthusiasts and home to The Academy of Magical Arts, Inc. The Magic Castle is the showplace for some of the greatest magicians from around the globe and houses one of the largest original collections of Houdini's great tools of the trade including his personal handcuffs, straight jacket, metamorphosis trunk and famous milk can escape. Houdini himself used these props to mystify thousands. Great pride is also taken in showcasing the magnificent building that houses the Magic Castle. Construction of the was completed in 1909 and this storied mansion has watched Hollywood grow and change for nearly 100 years while never losing its original charm.