Beyond, Jim Caruso’s Cast Party, and More Musical Fun

Gilles Marini and Aurelien Roulin enjoying “Beyond”‘s gala.

As the creator, producer, director and star of the show Beyond, Aurelien Roulin was a blur, running around on opening night and attending to every detail of the blissful dance show that is playing until August 1st at the El Portal Theatre in NoHo. With a playful and glitzy cirque style, Roulin and Clara Duda produced a show would easily be at home in a Las Vegas showroom. He said it is a tribute to his life’s experiences and travels. If so, the charming young Frenchman has had an amazing life filled with a variety of exciting entertainment, beautiful showgirls, and lots of dancing.

The large ensemble performs all kinds of dance numbers, from Swing to Bollywood to a show-stopping French Can-Can number in Act Two. There’s a torch singer (Ripley Rader), aerialists (Roulin with Sunny Soriano), acrobats, and an incredible contortionist (Ganichmeg Oyunchimeg). Each number takes you through a dreamer’s (Alex David) quest for love.

It is hard to imagine one man doing it all, but Roulin does it with panache, as he proved at the champagne gala opening night that was a benefit for the California Lymphoma Research Foundation. He hosted the charity gala with the help of his good friends Gilles Marini and Maximilian Palacio. Roulin announced, “A year ago my niece was diagnosed with lymphoma, she is doing well now, but because of that I wanted to help. Tonight and throughout the run of the show we will be donating to help those with lymphoma.”

Marini, the French heartthrob from Brothers & Sisters and a Dancing with the Stars finalist, is not surprised by Roulin generosity. Marini said, “He is a wonderful man, and a great performer. I am happy to see him do the show he always dreamt about, and that’s Beyond.”

Cast Party

Imagine if Broadway’s best had a cast party and everyone took turns getting up to perform at the soiree, with musical genius Billy Stritch holding court at the piano. That’s Jim Caruso’s Cast Party, a fun-filled impromptu variety show that’s has been the toast of Manhattan for several years at the legendary Birdland. I’ve heard stories about everyone from Liza Minnelli, Kristin Chenoweth, Bruce Vilanch to Jon Bon Jovi showing up. Now Caruso has made what he calls “The Great Schlep to Hollywood,” and has brought his Cast Party to the Magic Castle for some special engagements.

Last week I caught Melissa Manchester there singing sassy tunes with her daughter Hannah, along with Ilene Graff (with her composer husband Ben Lanzarone on piano), Ray Jessel, Griffith Frank from Nine, and other veteran performers. Plus there were future stars in the spotlight, such as YouTube sensation Lindon Warren, who did an amusing “Pants on the Ground” a la Judy Garland. In the audience Michael Feinstein was cracking wise with the showbiz crowd. Miranda, the comical Internet singer who went viral, also gave a glimpse of her outrageous Miranda Sings show that will play the Cabaret at the Castle August 1st at The Inner Circle.

More musical fun is coming announced Matt Patton, the producer of the always fun Cabaret shows. He told me more Cast Party nights are coming in September, and added, “We love to feature a variety of performers.” Indeed, nothing was cooler than His Royal Hipness, Lord Buckley starring Jake Broder (he was Louis Prima in the Louis & Keely show). Broder transformed into a jive talking singer who brought back the hip beatnik days with his storytelling riffs. So cool. Upcoming is the so hot, ultra-talented Telly Leung bringing his Who Loves Ya Baby night of Broadway music, August 12, to the Cabaret at the Castle. And charismatic Erich Bergen, from the cast of Jersey Boys and TV’s Gossip Girl, is coming September 15, so look out.

Now if you have a song in your heart and want to sing with the VOX Femina Los Angeles choir group, they are looking to fill their ranks for the 2010-11 season. Auditions will be held on August 24 and 31, so go to www.voxfeminala.org and you can sign up online, or call 310-922-0025. Under the direction of Dr. Iris S. Levine, VFLA strives for a high quality of musical performance and does major concerts throughout the year. They say that well behaved women rarely make history. Well, these women raise their gleeful voices and make beautiful music.

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