The Red Stocking Revue is now a respected institution in Port Washington, with the four-day extravaganza, presented by the Port Washington / Manhasset Chapter of Cancer Care, currently in its 23rd year. Even with expectations raised high by previous years' performances, this year's show succeeded in thrilling the audience with stunning costumes, spectacular scenery and a superb cast. The show, while appearing effortless in its presentation, is in fact the result of hours of dedicated, hard work by more than 200 volunteers who, incredibly, had only 19 days for rehearsals. The show, which this year drew an impressive audience of more than 1,600 people, is the biggest fundraiser for Cancer Care, who provide a variety of very important services to cancer sufferers including counseling and financial assistance.
The 2002 production was dedicated to Everyday Heroes, and included some of the real-life heroes from Port Washington's and New York City's Police and Fire Departments. The evening began with a color guard presented by members of the PWPD and PWFD and junior cast member, Victoria Bensen, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. It continued in a well-balanced blend of the usual madcap skits, talented soloists, eye-catching stage-ads and well-choreographed dancers with the added dash of poignant moments, reminding us of the heroes in everyday life, who have become more visible since September 11.
One of these moments had the audience drawing in a collective breath before breaking into storms of applause when, during I Want to Be a Fireman, composed and sung by Jerry Drake, a dramatic backdrop depicting the silhouetted figures of three firemen raising the flag at Ground Zero was slowly and reverently lowered onto the stage. Barbara Faticone said it had been a last minute request from director Maryellen Barnes. With just four days to opening night, Barbara called the Garofalo family, who are stalwart stagehands and scenery designers for RSR, and started apologizing for the lateness of the request. The response was, "Just tell us what you want Barbara, and you'll have it." The final product was the work of third generation Garofalo stagehand, Anthony, who is also a talented art student. Barbara said of the striking artwork, "it was bigger and better than I had imagined; he did an incredible job."
The show, including more than 40 sketches and lasting over three hours, was moved smoothly along by talented emcee, Laura Leigh Carroll. It was impossible not to be enthusiastic with the entire cast appearing to enjoy the show as much as the audience who watched it. The younger members of the cast charmed the audience, first with their rendition of the Pledge of Allegiance and then, with their synchronized sign-language interpretation of Angels Among Us, sung by soloist, Bobby Garofalo. One of the many lighthearted moments had the audience in stitches with the men's interpretation of Riverdance. The line up of apprentice Irish dancers, was led by Jamie Asuncion, who has performed in the RSR since she was 7 and included Ugo Raimo, who is one of only two performers who have been in every production since 1971.
The audience really had an opportunity to join in the fun when the men and women from their ranks were asked to volunteer for a part in the show. The volunteers were led backstage and came back a short while later to perform; the ladies starred first in the Haven Marina stage-ad, followed by the men who got a true workout in Chicken Fat, a spoof boot camp skit, led by some stern looking female drill sergeants. The evening was rounded off with special thanks given to members of the production team, the cast, the audience and local businesses that had supported the event.
Congratulations to all the RSR volunteers who provided us with the opportunity to get together and enjoy a great night's entertainment, pay tribute to our EveryDay heroes, and most importantly raise much-needed funds for the very worthy cause of Cancer Care.