On Monday, October 17th, 2022, Joseph Macchia Events and Productions presented One Heart One Cure, a benefit concert and an evening of tributes for cancer awareness.  The event was held at The Engelman Recital Hall in New York City.  The evening honored the memory of Camille Fuoco, mother of Joseph Macchia, who passed away from Stage 4 breast cancer on July 30th, 2019, after a three-and-a-half-year fight.  It was, in the words of Macchia, “The reason why we are here.” The life-affirming, personal, and inspiring event also saw the First Annual Kious Kelly Hearts and Heroes Award.  

Joseph Macchia is a floral designer, nightlife personality, and event producer who was a talent booking manager at New York City’s Metropolitan Room until it closed in 2017. For many years, he has managed the charity he founded, Help is on the Way Today, which is dedicated to assisting children with HIV. The charity provides back-to-school backpacks and supplies, Christmas toy drives, and funding for immediate or special needs. The show kicked off with D’Vorah Bailey (Candide) paying tribute to Ms. Fuoco with a stunning version of You’ll Be in My Heart as personal photos from Camille’s life were projected on screen, and closed with MAC Award-winner Aaron Lee Battle sending off the attendees with Home.  In between, One Heart One Cure featured performances from a wide variety of talent from Broadway, off-Broadway, and New York City’s cabaret world. Pianist/arranger/conductor/singer-songwriter Tracy Stark served as the event’s Music Director.  The hard-working Stark, who joked about her long resume, provided piano and occasionally background vocals for the other artists… but she is also a fine vocalist herself, and got to prove that in a big way later on in the show.  Proceeds for the evening benefitted The Helen Sawaya Fund and The LGBTQ Cancer Network.  The song selections were mostly a night of transgenerational showbiz favorites, with a few obscure musical gems thrown in. An example of the latter is the incredibly appealing Stacy Todd Holt (The Producers, Something Rotten), who gave the crowd the hilariously underheard Broadway bauble Screw Loose from Cry Baby, albeit with slightly altered lyrics (“I’m 16 and schizo!” became “I’m 50 and schizo!“). From reading the One Heart One Cure program and listening to the introductions for each of the performers, it was clear that all these artists’ resumes were no less than spectacular.  Since this concert was also a tribute to several people taken away too soon, with many of the artists having had known Camille Fuoco personally, there was no shortage of tears:  During a tribute to frontline workers during COVID, William Candelario sang a heartstring-tugging version of Borrowed Angels, a song originally done by Kristin Chenowith. It was unlikely that there was a dry eye in the entire Engleman Recital Hall. That said, there was no shortage of levity throughout the night. One of them was Aaron Lee Battle’s performance of the campy crowd-pleaser Frim Fram Sauce. When singing lyrics like: “I don’t want fish cakes and rye bread, You heard what I said!  Waiter, please serve mine fried!  I want the frim fram sauce with the Ausen fay; With chafafa on the side!”, it’s clear that this is a performer who loves to entertain.  The same can be said of the funny and phenomenal Margy Seides in Act 2, who is quite the raconteur.  While introducing the term “technicolor food coma” into our lexicon, she can even make the story of her own struggle with breast cancer into a hilarious performance piece– simultaneously preaching about the virtues of vegetarianism while singing a love song to… BACON!  The dazzling Laurie Krauz, with the help of her longtime collaborator Daryl Kojak on piano, knows how to bring the house down. (When you lose an earring during your performance, you know you’re giving it your all!) The chemistry between the pair is perfect, with Krauz’ gift for humor perfectly paired with her talent as a singer as the two gave the crowd the, uhm… “R-rated” portion of the night. As Krauz sang her pleas for company of the male variety, it was sexy and “Oh!-Oh!!-OH!!!”-so funny. Later, the pair returned for the eternal fave Our Love is Here to Stay. It was no less than (at the risk of overusing this adjective…) phenomenal.

Whether the songs were somber or light-hearted, all the numbers had one thing in common: They were all inspiring. The feeling of inspiration was perhaps no better personified than by Ty Stephens (Sophisticated Ladies), whose vocal style and stage presence was smooth, soulful, and, once again, inspiring!… His original crowd-pleaser, Power to Change, has a message that is both timeless and more relevant than ever. With its infectious beat, it became a sing-along.

Ms. Fuoco’s nurse, Kious Kelly, lost his own personal battle with COVID in March 2020 at age 48.  Kelly is believed to be the first frontline worker who died from COVID in the line of duty.  In addition to the musical performances, the First Annual Kious Kelly Hearts and Heroes Award was given to Janet Cuaycong, MS, RN-BC, CRRN. Janet is currently a Nurse Manager at Mount Sinai West Hospital, NYC. There was also a Special Performance in memory of Broadway actress/singer Doreen Montalvo, who had hosted the first One Heart One Cure concert in 2019. Doreen appeared on Broadway in In The Heights, On Your Feet!, and Mrs. Doubtfire.  She passed away unexpectedly in October 2020.  Mauricio Martinez (On Your Feet!, Mexico’s Beauty and the Beast), David Baida (On Your Feet!, In The Heights), Sandra Marante (Stonewall The Opera, In The Heights), and Ruben Flores (On Your Feet!, In The Heights) honored Doreen with The Power of One. All of the performers returned later on to prove their individual talents. Martinez gave the audience a Spanish version of Memory from Cats. Martinez joked that the song was familiar, but it had truly never been heard like this before– made even more hauntingly affective by Martinez’ commanding presence. Lovely Sandra Marante energized the crowd with a lively take on J-Lo’s ultimate party song Let’s Get Loud and returned later in the show to give a scorching version of Alicia Keys’ If I Ain’t Got You. At the risk of sounding cliched, she took both of these pop favorites to new levels. Ruben Flores performed a lush version of Bella María de mi lAlma (Beautiful Maria of my Soul), while David Baida was absolutely adorable and funny as he asked the question, “Does G*d love little fat boys too?” (Spoiler: The answer is yes!)

As mentioned before, all of the artists gave powerful performances. D’vorah Bailey, who was the epitome of elegance and class in the show’s opener, returned later to perform a hauntingly beautiful version of Olivia Newton John’s I Honestly Love You. It was made all the more touching knowing that Newton-John sadly passed away from cancer in August 2022.) David Auxier-Loyola, performing two songs, was funny, charming, and thoroughly delightful. With his commanding stage presence and charisma, he was the perfect personality to spark the crowd’s energy early on, with enough fire to last the rest of the show. William Candelario is truly a vocal powerhouse: His flawless delivery emanates so smoothly and effortlessly from his mouth, and he is able to hit some truly impressive notes.

Joseph Macchia’s diverse selection of performers was proof that just when even the most dedicated Manhattan theater aficionado has thought that he or she has seen every last great performer in New York City, there is still an infinite roster of talent who they haven’t yet seen or heard. As evidenced by this event, talent shines even brighter when it’s used for a great cause.

One Heart One Cure will be back in 2023!

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