Fairy tales came true a little bit at Somerville High School on Friday Night, as Frank Sinatra and Liza Minelli teamed up for another night of fantastic entertainment. Well, kind of.
Audience members young and old we treated to deft look-alikes Joanne Sweeney and Mike Dutra, as they sang their idols' top hits to a crowd of 650 people at the 6th Annual Memorial Day Parade Fundraiser. The event, which raised over $8,000, was organized by Frank Senesi, the Director of Veteran Services for the city and supported by members of the American Legion in Somerville. "We have one of the largest Memorial Day parades in the nation," said Steve Silvestri, "Somerville being the patriotic city that it is." Milton Lashus of East Boston who is a Commander in the American Legion and will be a special guest speaker at the parade on May 30th echoed many of the concertgoers, "I'm here because it's a good time, and a good cause."
Before the concert began, the audience milled around the halls of Somerville High, many of them veterans catching-up with old acquaintances, while some talked with Mayor Curtatone who, with his 2-year-old son James, made a few opening remarks at the concert. One veteran who chatted with the Mayor and his son was Captain John O'Leary of World War II, who was gratified with the pleasant turnout. "I see a lot of my friends coming out and a beautiful day here. I'm looking forward to a good show, and hoping for a great Memorial Day parade.
The show itself was enjoyed by everyone. Sweeney, in character as Minelli, came out first and, in a series of blazing-fast costume changes, wowed the crowd with renditions of such hits as "Bye, bye Blackbird" and "Cabaret." At one point, during a performance of "Sarah Lee," Sweeney/Minnelli was joined by Frank Senesi, who appeared on stage dressed as a chef. Despite it being "a long, long, long time," since Senesi had done any steps, he earned a round of applause from the audience after keeping in rhythm while dancing.
"It was very believable," said Lorilie Richardson of Somerville, who had attended after finding out that the Broadway run of "The Lion King" playing in Boston was sold out. "It felt like I was back in the '70s and Liza was standing right in front of me." "I was hoping she would sing Second-hand Rose," said Phil Tammaro, a veteran of the Vietnam War.
After a brief intermission, Dutra came on, as Frank Sinatra, and finished out a classy night was his uncanny baritone croon. His set-list, including "Summer Wind" and "Young at Heart," was a fitting tribute to the late star, as Dutra remained as cool and crass as Sinatra at his height. "All of his songs were absolutely great," critiqued Senesi.
"Without the support of residents and community members, great City events like the Memorial Day Parade would not be possible," Mayor Curtatone said. "Friday's fundraiser was very successful, and Frank Senesi and Kathy Carey once again created a terrific event with fun and energetic performances. Thank you to the Veterans' Services team, and to all of the community members who continue to support the City of Somerville and our annual traditions."
The Memorial Day Parade of Somerville, organized by the Committee of Veteran Services, will take place on May 30th at 1:00 PM.