‘From Broadway With Love’ celebrates showbiz, family ties

Standing on the shoulders of those who came before — even when you’re singing and dancing.

It’s no easy feat, but it’s one the singers and dancers of “From Broadway With Love: Honoring the Shoulders We Stand On” manage with panache.

Some are showbiz veterans, from Grammy-winner Merald “Bubba” Knight Jr. (who performed with his sister Gladys Knight & the Pips) to 11-year-old Jason Toure, who spent six months on Broadway as Young Simba in “The Lion King.”

Others are just learning how to strut their stuff.

But all belong to a special family: Broadway in the Hood.

“Hood” stands for Helping Others Open Doors, and it’s that spirit that inspires the performers featured in Saturday’s Smith Center concert, the organization’s first official fundraiser.

“It’s been a tough road,” BITH founder Torrey Russell admits. “Being able to keep 80 kids out of trouble in summer camp, every day for 10 weeks. … Our hope and goal is that a community with so much money — why not help an organization that helps the community?”

Saturday’s performing lineup includes Tony-winning tap whiz Savion Glover and Grammy-winner Deniece Williams and Las Vegas fixtures such as Travis Cloer, Clint Holmes, Reva Rice and Earl Turner.

Also on the bill: Moya Angela (“Dreamgirls,” “The Lion King”), Antonio Fargas (alias “Starsky and Hutch’s” Huggy Bear), Anika Ellis-Mungin (Broadway’s “Fosse” and “The Color Purple”) and Anthony Wayne (“Pippin,” “Anything Goes”). Not to mention dozens of kids from BITH’s 10-week summer camp — plus a 150-voice choir.

They’ll be performing numbers from Tony-winning Broadway favorites such as “Hamilton,” “Dear Evan Hansen,” “A Chorus Line,” “Chicago,” “Cats” and “The Color Purple,” plus tributes to such showbiz legends as Sammy Davis Jr., Lena Horne, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Pearl Bailey and Louis Armstrong.

On a recent morning, dozens of young performers gather at a North Las Vegas church to rehearse.

In one room, choreographer Justin Bryant (who performs in Cirque du Soleil’s “Michael Jackson One”) puts young dancers through their paces.

In another, Russell asks participants in the organization’s summer camp to take their “places — quietly” for “Matilda’s” rousing “Revolting Children” number.

“Remember,” he tells them, “we’re mad as hell and we’re pissed off. Your facial expressions have to be good.” And, as the kids rebel against their tyrannical teacher, Russell offers words of encouragement: “Energy! Lots of energy! We’re having fun!”

One rehearsal complete, Russell heads for a second at a condominium complex south of the Strip.

Inside a dance studio, Knight and “From Broadway With Love” co-host Cloer (who played Frankie Valli in the long-running “Jersey Boys”) wait to go over their “On Broadway” moves. (Holmes and Turner round out the “On Broadway” quartet.)

As a percussive beat blasts from a speaker hooked up to Russell’s laptop computer, Cloer and Knight step out to the beat, refining and revising their moves as they snap their fingers, trading jokes and smiles in the process.

Despite their easygoing harmony, both performers consider their Broadway in the Hood connection serious business.

“The work Torrey does is, hands down, some of the best work in Vegas,” says Cloer, citing “the impact the performing arts can have on a child’s confidence.” But “he opens the doors to anybody.”

BITH is “doing more than talking about something, they’re doing it,” adds Knight. “I’m a HOOD-ie and proud to be that.”

Knight made his Broadway in the Hood debut in a 2012 production of “The Color Purple” at the West Las Vegas Library.

Despite his status as a Motown legend, Knight wanted “to be in the dressing room with us,” 26-year-old BITH member Jericho Michela says, remembering how Knight helped a young performer by “teaching him how to tie a tie” and noting how “something as simple as tying a tie” demonstrates the bond among BITH members young and old.

“When you’re in BITH, you’re a part of the family,” he says. “It’s a family much more than an organization.”

Toure quotes the motto on his summer camp T-shirt: “Like it says in ‘Hood,’ helping others open doors.”

A new BITH member, 16-year-old Stone Farrior, appreciates the help. New to acting, he’s learning multiple lessons at BITH’s summer camp.

“My dancing problems are looking at my feet, and with singing, my head’s way too high,” the Valley High School student says. Even so, “I love it,” Stone adds. Unlike school, where “you’re worrying you’re going to fail, I’m not worried. Here, I feel I can succeed infinitely — as long as I try.”

Savion Glover: The ‘Tap Dance Kid’ grows up and gives back

Savion Glover began his Broadway career at 12 in “The Tap Dance Kid” and, on screen in “Tap,” he shared the floor with such masters as Sammy Davis Jr. and Gregory Hines. (Back in Broadway, Glover reteamed with Hines in “Jelly’s Last Jam.”)

He’s long since forged his own path as a performer and choreographer, on Broadway (the Tony-winning “Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk,” “Black and Blue”), on TV (HBO’s “The Rat Pack,” PBS’ “Sesame Street”) and on screen (where he created the moves for tap-happy penguin Mumbles in the Oscar-winning 2006 feature “Happy Feet”).

But Glover’s early experiences helped inspire his participation in Saturday’s Smith Center benefit for Broadway in the Hood, “From Broadway With Love: Honoring the Shoulders We Stand On.”

Although Glover hasn’t previously worked with Broadway in the Hood, “someone reached out to me and I wanted to be a part of it,” he explains during a waiting-for-a-plane telephone interview. “Arts and entertainment need to be accessible.”

Besides, “my mentors and teachers have come to Las Vegas,” he notes, citing “all my buddies — people like Sammy Davis Jr., the Nicholas Brothers and Gregory Hines.”

They helped make Las Vegas a tap magnet, Glover notes.

“I don’t know that there is another mecca,” he comments. “It has been Vegas, ever since the beginning of tap dance as entertainment. I don’t think they will ever lose their legacy.”

And while he has “many stories” about the aforementioned Las Vegas legends, “I was told what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” he quips.

Contact Carol Cling at ccling@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0272. Follow @CarolSCling on Twitter.

5 must-see bands at Punk Rock Bowling 2018
5 must-see bands at Punk Rock Bowling 2018
Gabi Coffee & Bakery Is Like A Korean Speakeasy From The 1920s
Gabi Coffee & Bakery Is Like A Korean Speakeasy From The 1920s (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Five must-see acts at the Electric Daisy Carnival 2018
Five must-see acts at the Electric Daisy Carnival 2018
The "13 Reasons Why" mustang cruises down the Las Vegas Strip (Courtesy Netflix)
4 fun and fascinating museums in Las Vegas
U2 in Vegas through the years
U2 in Vegas through the years
Dirt Dog In Las Vegas Makes Crazy L.A. Street Food
Dirt Dog In Las Vegas Makes Crazy L.A. Street Food (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-journal)
Black Tap In Las Vegas Makes This Instagram-ready Golden Knights Shake (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-journal)
Nevada Ballet Theatre Premieres Until December
‘Until December’ debuts at ‘Ballet & Broadway’ season finale (Carol Cling Las Vegas
Celebrate The Golden Knights With Knights-inpired Latte Art (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Yodeling Boy Mason Ramsey Signs With Atlantic Records, Debuts First Single
Yodeling Boy Mason Ramsey Signs With Atlantic Records, Debuts First Single Ramsey, who shot to fame after a viral video of him yodeling at an Illinois Walmart surfaced, just debuted “Famous.” “If I'm gonna be famous for somethin'/I wanna be famous for lovin' you/If I'm gonna be known around the world/I wanna because of you, girl” Mason Ramsey, “Famous” It’s been quite the rush to stardom for the 11-year-old, who appeared on The Ellen Show and performed at Coachella earlier this month. “I’d been to Nashville a few times before, but never thought something like this would happen. It’s a dream to sign with Atlantic and Big Loud.” Mason Ramsey “I loved recording ‘Famous’ and can’t wait for everyone to hear it.”
Steve Aoki, Pitbull And Other Stars Make An Apperance At The "Keep Memory Alive" Gala
Steve Aoki, Pitbull And Other Stars Make An Apperance At The "Keep Memory Alive" Gala. (Janna Karel Las Vegas review-Journal)
"Hamilton" Fans Line Up Overnight At Smith Center To Get Tickets
"Hamilton" fans line up overnight at Smith Center to get tickets. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
5 concerts to see in Las Vegas this week
You can visit the speakeasy in The Mob Museum's basement... if you know the password
6 new foods hitting movie theaters in 2018
Lip Smacking Foodie Tours takes you where the locals go
Donald Contursi talks about Lip Smacking Foodie Tours, which offers walking tours of restaurants on and off Las Vegas Boulevard with food samples and tidbits of history about the places they visit.
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson Welcomes New Baby Girl!
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson Welcomes New Baby Girl! The 45-year-old actor posted an adorable photo on Instagram, celebrating his newborn baby girl, Tiana Gia Johnson. Dwayne Johnson, via Instagram Dwayne Johnson, via Instagram Dwayne Johnson, via Instagram This is Johnson’s second daughter with his girlfriend, Lauren Hashian. His oldest daughter, Simone Garcia Johnson, came from his previous marriage. Johnson and Hashian first announced they were expecting another child back in January. Congratulations!!
Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend Car Show celebrates 21st year
The Stray Cats, Jerry Lee Lewis, Duane Eddy, Elvira and Mitch Polzak make appearances the 21st Annual Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend car show at the Orleans hotel and casino on Saturday, April 21, 2018.
This "Alice in Wonderland" cocktail changes colors and flavors while you sip
Take a tour of The Underground at The Mob Museum
Prince death investigation coming to an end
Prosecutors in Minnesota plan an announcement Thursday on the two-year investigation into Prince's death from a drug overdose Prince was 57 when he was found alone and unresponsive in an elevator at his Paisley Park estate on April 21, 2016. An autopsy found he died of an accidental overdose of fentanyl. Search warrants unsealed about a year after Prince died showed that authorities searched his home, cellphone records of associates and his email accounts to try to determine how he got the drug. The county attorney has scheduled a morning announcement at which time charges could be filed.
Art Bell’s Top 10 Shows
A selection of radio host Art Bell’s most popular shows.
Big Bounce America visits North Las Vegas
Billing itself as "the biggest bounce house in the world," Big Bounce America visits Craig Ranch Regional Park in Las Vegas.
David Copperfield in court after man injured during magic trick
The attorney for a British man who is suing illusionist David Copperfield said his client suffered serious injuries after being called on stage during Copperfield's show at MGM Grand.
Disneyland debuts new foods for Pixar Fest on Friday
Pixar Fest takes place ahead of California Adventure’s Pixar Pier expansion. (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sneak Peek at New Decorations, Merch and Parade for Disneyland's Pixar Fest
Las Vegas Philharmonic celebrates 20th anniversary season
Orchestra’s 2018-19 season features premiere, more (Carol Cling/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Downtown Las Vegas' newest bar is a reggae lounge
Jammyland serves island-inspired cocktails. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
5 things connecting Las Vegas and Marilyn Monroe
1. Marilyn Monroe, known then as Norma Jeane, obtained her first divorce in Las Vegas at the age of 20 on September 13, 1946. 2. According to some biographers, Monroe lived at 604 S. 3rd Street for four months during the summer of 1946. The house has since been torn down and is now the site of a parking lot. 3. In 1954, Monroe almost married Joe DiMaggio in Las Vegas but the wedding was called off last minute. The wedding was to be held at the Hotel El Rancho Vegas which was located on the southwest corner of Sahara Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard. 4. Las Vegas has at least one road dedicated to the star. Marilyn Monroe Avenue is located in east Las Vegas and intersects with Betty Davis Street and Cary Grant Court. 5. There are currently more than 20 Marilyn Monroe impersonators for hire in the Las Vegas Valley.
News Headlines
Local Spotlight
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like