Puttin’ on the Glitz for REAF

Help is on the Way XXIII: Puttin’ on the Glitz for REAF

For the 23rd consecutive year, Help is on the Way,  a variety show and fundraiser produced by the Richmond/Ermet Aid Foundation, delivered performances from a bevy of Broadway, TV and film stars. Proceeds from the event at Herbst Theater on August 20, 2017, benefited Meals on Wheels San Francisco and Positive Resource Center.

“We are grateful to our gala host committee led by Co-chairs Sophie Azouaou, Eileen Blum, and Sonya Molodetsakaya. The generosity of these individuals, as well as that of our audience, proves that compassion is still alive,” shared REAF Executive Director Ken Henderson.

Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom delivered a video message and invited former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown and Francis Tsang from Mayor Ed Lee’s office to the stage. They presented Sophie Azouaou with the REAF award for community service and a proclamation declaring August 20, 2017, ‘Sophie Azouaou Day’ in the city of San Francisco.

Act One: Puttin’ on the Glitz

The Broadway touring cast of Something Rotten opened the show with a rousing salute to Broadway featuring snippets from many top Broadway shows. Jazz diva Paula West followed with a tribute to Bob Dylan singing “Like A Rolling Stone” followed by an over-the-top comedy rendition of “Everybody’s Girl” sung by Leanne Borghesi. Garrett Clayton, who starred in the television movie Hairspray Live reprised the song “It Takes Two.” New York cabaret star Lisa Viggiano sang “Three’s a Charm,” a stirring tribute to LGBTQ youth who are victims of bullying, accompanied by the composer of the song, Tim DiPasqua.


World Champion salsa dancers Salsamania then changed the pace with an exciting dance to the song “Con Calma.” Local favorite Jason Brock paid tribute to Whitney Houston with “The Greatest Love of All” followed by a rendition of “And I Am Telling You” by 2012 American Idol first runner up Jessica Sanchez. Tony Award-winner Levi Kreis closed the first act with a tribute to Jerry Lee Lewis, reprising the song from his Tony Award winning show Million Dollar Quartet.

Act Two: More Glitz

Broadway star David Engel opened the second act singing and dancing to “Singing in the Rain” with Gene Kelly on video. Broadway star David Burnham followed with a rendition of Frank Sinatra’s “That’s Life” in tribute to his father. Eileen Blum Bourgade and her daughter Lea Blum played a beautiful violin duet of “Por Una Cabeza” from the film Scent of a Woman while Eric Rosenthal and Yelena Vayn danced a lovely tango.

Broadway and recording star Maureen McGovern followed with a medley of blues songs by Harold Arlen before last season’s American Idol winner Trent Harmon sang “Chandelier” by Sia. REAF grand diva Carole Cook paid tribute to her show biz mentor Lucille Ball with song and comedy bits from her appearances on a number of Lucy shows.

The end of the show drew near with Jessica Sanchez’s heartfelt rendition of “The Prayer.” Maureen McGovern and the entire cast closed the show with REAF’s theme song, “Help is on the Way” by David Freidman. All this was presented before a shimmering set of glittering crystal curtains and chandeliers designed by Josh Koral of Acme Scenery.

Following the performances, the Herbst Theater Green Room transformed into Club REAF, a nightclub-inspired cocktail and dance party with beats by DJs GoBang!

Photos by Drew Altizer Photography

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