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Last Updated 3/11/2009

As the crowd gathered in the auditorium and was guided to their seats by Arlene Schachter and her capable crew, everyone knew that this "assembly" would be nothing like those back home. As the crowd grew silent awaiting the New York overture by the Manny Harman Orchestra, under the direction of John Setar. there was a hush of anticipation as music began. Almost immediately, the name CONNIE STEVENS was emblazoned in very large letters across the scrim covering the stage. long term loans for bad credit

The music, a combination of Klezmer and traditional New York melodies was a delightful backdrop to the film on the video screens. Lady Liberty was stretching her welcoming arm, the tug boats in the NY Harbor, the noisy streets of New York City, the subway, the Chrysler and Empire State buildings lit up in their glory came in the musical concofiminy of the music of our youth.

Unlike during previous openings the auditorium grew dark, completely black and the melodic voice of Lance LeGault would announce Robbie Britt. This time as Robbie’s name was announced his voiced bellowed but he was nowhere to be seen. After a couple of moments the spotlight illuminated Robbie as he was walking down the aisle in the audience. With a few more strides he was up in his familiar place stage singing America for all to see. Above him, on that same scrim flashed creative and colorful reproductions of the American Flag, the Statute of Liberty and the New York skyline.

With Robbie’s voice resonating throughout the auditorium the opening of the show was clearly and undisputedly The Most Spectacular opening most of us have ever seen anywhere. Kudos to the imagination of our director, JON ALEXANDER for creating as everlasting memory for all to enjoy.
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And that was just the opening of a vibrant show guided by the wit and style of three masters of ceremonies, Norm Crosby, Budd Friedman and Sal Richards.

In welcoming so many of our celebrated alumni and friends who, in Norm’s words "never too big and never too proud to come because they aren’t working tonight," the packed audience howled as Norm introduced Jerry Vale, Theo Bikel, Ed Ames, Peter Lupus, Kelly Lange, Robert Conrad, Len Lesser, Bernie Kopell, Aliza Kashi, Joe Viterelli and Michele Lee along with our legendary orchestra leader Manny Harmon.

Actor, writer, producer, director and "manager" of our annual slap ball games; Garry Marshall appeared on stage for the 12th year wearing his Clinton High School T- shirt and Bronx baseball cap. Regaling us with stories about our homeland Garry’s traditional "warm-up" always sets the stage for the tone of our annual get-togethers.

A new face, savvy comedian singer/impressionist Scott Record, recently seen in the west coast production of "Catskills on Broadway" was outstanding and his rendition of Frank Sinatra singing New York, New York on a warped and scratched record in a vintage juke box was an original delight never heard before.
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After a wonderful video received from the SAG Awards depicting Ed Asner’s career as an actor and human rights activist, Fyvush Finkel, welcomed Ed as "one of the family" by formally "knighting" Ed with our stickball bat and proclaiming Ed as an new son of New York Cit. Ed was now “allowed” to use all of the stereotypical traits of his fellow New Yorkers.

Another new and-dear face, comedian Wendy Liebman, was introduced to our audience by our the Impresario of the Improv, Budd Friedman. Her unique style tickled the audience and they began laughing and "qvelling" at the girl everyone wished they could call their own daughter. Wendy, who poked fun at her long-term fiancée can no longer do so because she married him just a few months later - a wedding which was covered by the New Times. Congratulations and thank you Wendy. L’Chaim!

As Red Buttons took center stage, the audience rolled with loud and unrestrained laughter as the master of comedy was at his usual brilliant self.

We sincerely thank Red for his long and continued support to all of us.

And, what better than to close the first act with an old dear friend, Julius LaRosa who flew in from New York with pal Sal Richards. Julie’s voice was never more magnificent and his appearance created a special memory for many who have lost track of time. A graduate of Grover Cleveland H.S. in Queens,, Julie really got into the flavor of the reunion by joining the alumni committee in preparations on Friday night and he loved the outside reunion during the day. His letter, upon his return to New York thanking us for inviting him was really a very nice post-script to his visit.
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And, what better way to begin the second act but with another old friend, Sal Richards who once again schlepped back to delight us for the third time in the past four years. Sal’s loving musical tribute to our recently departed BEST FRIEND, Milton Berle, was beautifully orchestrated.

As one of the smartest performers in the business, Sal knew to hold back on some of his comedy in deference to the time of the show as he guided us through this lovely evening.

We were next delighted by a nostalgic video and loving musical tribute by Connie’s daughter, Joely Fisher.
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After surprise visits by Robert Catell. Chairman of the Board of KeySpan (formerly Union Gas) and Dozier Hasty – Publisher of the beloved Brooklyn Eagle, Bob abd Dozier presented Connie with a copy of the Eagle on the day of Connie’s birth. direct loan lenders for bad credit

As part of the "challenge" of live entertainment, when Dozier was introduced he immediately presented Connie with this gift he left Bob standing alone back stage waiting to be introduced. Sal made sure to correct the oversight and the rest of the presentation continued without skipping a beat.

Another surprise visit was from Connie’s pal, Elaine Rogers who flew in from Washington, D.C. to present Connie with the Medal of Freedom on behalf of the USO in grateful appreciation for Connie’s efforts and support for American servicemen and women. As another challenge timing and staging a live show, Elaine, a late edition called and said, “Sit me where you have room – anywhere. I will speak one minute, 5 minutes or 20 minutes – whatever you want.”

Thank you Elaine Rogers for being so nice, for being so gracious and for adding your vibrant and enthusiastic presence on behalf of the USO.
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And, in the background lurking back stage for most of the evening was a man no one knew. When asked, he told everyone that he was Connie’s Uncle Luigi from Sicily. He said he was here to honor his niece and pleaded for just a minute to say hello.

Here in “Brigadoon,” visitors are always treated warmly – especially Italian visitors from Sicily. So, on stage trooped Uncle Luigi totting his organ grinder and little monkey. Connie’s quizzical expression mirrored the factes of the audience – when all of a sudden – a smile reappeared on Connie’s face followed by laughter and a big bear hug as Connie finally recognized “her uncle” – her pal – Shecky Greene!

Shecky Greene also brought another old and familiar face to our audience, Ricky Lane & Velvel who reminded us of days gone by on the Ed Sullivan Show.

Then we all listened as Sal introduced Connie with the grace and dignity of an Italian
man for an Italian woman. After making the formal introduction, Sal left the stage
and came into the audience to escort his long-time friend and our honoree back up to the stage and the audience rose in a salute while expressing their own love for this
fabulous woman - a woman of many talents and one who has made a difference in
the lives of others.

Connie showed her style, her warmth and her gratitude to all in attendance – words and smiles.

After 3 1/2 hour of delightful music, comedy and nostalgia the auditorium emptied with the alumni saying the magical words for all who serve on the New York Alumni Committee love to hear. ."They did it again!"

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