Broadway stars return to Perry-Mansfield for cabaret performance
Fresh from the Broadway stage, three Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp alumni will be back in town this weekend for a special Cabaret performance.
“Raise the Roof! A Cabaret of Broadway Songs and Stories,” featuring Grace Stockdale, Emily Stockdale and Conor Ryan, will take place at 7 p.m. Sunday, July 9 as a benefit to raise funds to rehabilitate the Julie Harris Theatre at Perry-Mansfield.
“Growing up coming to Perry-Mansfield laid the foundation for the artist I am today and the kind of actor I am and want to continue to be,” said Ryan, who has starred in “John and Jen Off-Broadway” and “Cinderella, The Fortress of Solitude” on Broadway. “While a lot of other kids were taking very formal ballet and voice lessons, or even already getting opportunities to work professionally in TV/film or on stage, I was out here in the mountains, dancing barefoot to a beating drum, swinging from a trapeze and writing poetry in these beautiful woods.”
During Sunday’s performance, the Stockdale sisters and Ryan will be singing songs, duets and medleys from their time at Perry-Mansfield and on Broadway while also telling stories about past Perry-Mansfield productions and what they learned during their time there.
For Ryan, it’s been eight years since he’s been back on campus. Each time, he gets on stage, he said he remembers those early years.
“I don’t know how to describe it other than that the spirit of this place courses through my veins,” he said. “Every time I perform, I can feel it there, beating.”
One of his favorite memories at Perry-Mansfield was the summer they did “Sweeney Todd.”
“I remember at our last performance, Corey, the actor who played Sweeney, was delivering his final lines and the theatre was very quiet,” Ryan said. “Suddenly, it began to rain. I remember hearing the storm start and hearing the rain come down on the tin roof of the Julie Harris at the perfect dramatic moment in the play. I felt a chill run down my spine, and I remember thinking to myself, ‘remember this moment. This is magic by any standards, and you only get a handful of magical moments like this in your life.'”
The theater that will benefit from Sunday’s cabaret performance is named for actor Julie Harris, who was a student at Perry-Mansfield and then a faculty member. She is known for her roles on Broadway that earned her five Tony Awards as best actress, as well as other honors, including being a three-time Emmy winner.
Perry-Mansfield Executive Director Nancy Engelken said the Julie Harris Theatre is the center of the camp’s summer programs, which draw students from across the country. It is also widely used by community organizations in the non-camp season including Steamboat Opera and Rocky Mountain Youth Corps for its Yampa Valley Science School.
Money raised from the benefit will be used toward the matching funds needed for a major grant from the State Historic Fund and other funders to support theatre renovations. Engelken is expecting to raise upwards of $7,500 through the benefit performance.
“Our alumni tell us again and again, ‘Perry-Mansfield changed my life,’” Engelken said. “We are thrilled to have inspired the illustrious careers of Grace, Emily and Conor and equally thrilled to have them back to share their talent with our community and help raise funds for such a worthy cause. “
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