Debra DaVaughn and Chris Simmons are holding their fifth musical fundraiser for the Surrey Food Bank on Oct. 1

Broadway fun to raise food bank funds

Musical theatre featured at Surrey Arts Centre concert benefiting the Surrey Food Bank.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” the old saying goes.

What the grammatically questionable idiom means, of course, is that it would be a mistake to repair something that is clearly working just fine.

Debra DaVaughn and Chris Simmons, organizers of an annual concert aimed at raising much-needed dollars for the Surrey Food Bank, are adopting the rationale this year as they plan for their early October musical event.

After all, A Night on Broadway raised about $10,000 last year.

While the benefit show is in its 5th year, the focus last year shifted from an opera line-up to show tunes. The switch was successful due to the music’s broader appeal, allowing Simmons and DaVaughn to help the food bank that much more.

“We really increased the ticket sales,” said Simmons. “We didn’t quite sell out, but we came close.”

A second show was also added last year, doubling the opportunity for ticket sales.

This year’s concert on Oct. 1 at the Surrey Arts Centre again features both an afternoon and evening show, and takes the audience on a journey through a diverse assortment of tunes, both from Broadway hits and from more obscure musical theatre pieces.

It’s a wide array of music, from standards everybody loves, says Simmons, listing off shows such as Guys & Dolls, The Lion King, 42nd Street and West Side Story, to lesser-known selections from musicals like Jekyll & Hyde and Nine.

Once again, Simmons and DaVaughn are counting on director Matthew Bissett to also serve as a narrator of sorts, skillfully weaving together their selection of randomly chosen songs as he did last year.

“We kind of just say ‘here you go, make it work,’” Simmons laughed.

Music director and pianist Angus Kellett, known for his work with Vancouver Opera, as well as myriad other Lower Mainland productions, will also be accompanying the performers again.

“He’s a dream to work with,” said DaVaughn. “He follows the singer so well and he’s so intuitive.

Vocalist Tamara Croft is again on board, as is Langley performer Arne Larsen. And Vanessa Coley-Donohue is re-joining the show, not only reprising her role as choreographer, but singing in several numbers in the evening’s second half.

New on this year’s bill is Tracy Neff, a well-known singer and actor from South Delta who teaches privately, as well as at South Delta Secondary’s acting academy. A graduate of the Boston Conservatory, Neff was most recently featured in the Arts Club Theatre/Belfry Theatre co-production of the 25th Annual Putnum County Spelling Bee, playing 12-year-old Olive Ostrovsky.

For Neff, who met Simmons and DaVaughn through mutual friends, putting on a show for a good cause is nothing new. She jumped at the chance to be part of A Night on Broadway.

“I love having an opportunity to use what I have to benefit others,” she said. “I think it’s a great way for performers to give back.”

She’s also excited to collaborate with and meet new artists – a feeling the organizers say is mutual.

“We have found it a great coup for Tracy to join us,” DaVaughn said.

Adds Simmons: “We learn a lot from each other, even in rehearsal. That’s the wonderful thing about music … each person brings their own interpretation.”

Another new addition is Simmons’ and DaVaughn’s four-month-old daughter, who may somehow be worked into the show. The couple’s first chid is, not surprisingly, a musical baby, even falling asleep when she accompanies her mom and dad to rehearsals. Despite being new parents, the pair has remained committed to the food bank fundraiser.

“We knew this would be the first thing that we’d get into after the baby was born,” Simmons said.

As for the show’s future, while it’s definitely not broken, DaVaughn and Simmons have a vision, such as potentially adding an orchestra to the mix, and maybe holding a reception and silent auction to bring in even more funds.

But for now, there’s nothing to fix.

Just Posted

Cloverdale Toastmasters celebrate 25 years of learning and laughter

Cloverdale club is a high achieving, yet laid-back Toastmasters group

McCallum’s canal pitch took Surrey councillors by surprise

City government has more important issues pressing than building a canal, councillors say

Crime Stoppers urges Lower Mainland residents to check these 9 safety items every night

Home security tips demonstrated at Cloverdale house on Wednesday

Surrey RCMP conducting drug-related search warrant

Traffic closed in both directions on 128th Street, between 64th and 66th Avenue

Queen Elizabeth students hit $100K in donations to Surrey Hospital Foundation

Secondary students have been raising funds for a decade through the Roots & Rhythms event

VIDEO: ‘Avengers: Endgame’ to be re-released with new footage

‘Avatar’ holds global box office record at $2.788 billion, while ‘Endgame’ stands at $2.743 billion…

B.C. teen killed by falling tree near Victoria

Second youth also injured in freak incident during field trip at Camp Barnard near Sooke

Elias Pettersson wins Calder Trophy as NHL’s top rookie

Vancouver forward first Canuck to win award since Pavel Bure in 1992

FVRD chair calls B.C. incineration plan for Philippines waste ‘disturbing’

Metro Vancouver ‘uniquely capable’ of safely disposing of waste coming back to Canada, say officials

VIDEO: Acknowledging skeptics, finance minister vows to build Trans Mountain project

Bill Morneau said he recognizes ‘huge amount of anxiety’ in Calgary over future of oil and gas sector

Shovels could be in the ground on Trans Mountain by September, CEO says

Ian Anderson points to weeks likely required for NEB to reinstate 2016 regulatory record

Scorpion gives birth after hitching ride in B.C. woman’s luggage

A Vancouver woman inadvertently brought the animal home from a trip to Cuba

RCMP allows officers to grow beards

Members can now wear beards and goatees, as long as they’re neatly groomed

Girl, 10, poisoned by carbon monoxide at B.C. campsite could soon return home

Lucille Beaurain died and daughter Micaela Walton, 10, was rushed to B.C. Children’s Hospital on May 18

Most Read