What the World Needs Now is cabaret-concert for good cause

By Guy D’Astolfo

Saturday’s show will raise funds for Second Harvest Food Bank.

YOUNGSTOWN — What the world needs now is love, sweet love.

So the song goes, and those words have never been more true.

Of course, a stock market rebound (and maybe an NBA championship for the Cavaliers) would also be nice.

But barring any of that, a night of cabaret can further the cause nicely.

Fortuitously, the Mahoning Valley’s premier cabaret duo has a show planned Saturday. Pianist Rick Blackson and vocalist Mary Jo Maluso will present What the World Needs Now in the Grand Ballroom of Stambaugh Auditorium.

The cabaret-concert is a benefit for Second Harvest Food Bank. Guests are encouraged to bring two nonperishable food items to help stock the food bank.

It’s part of the Cabaret at the Christman series that Maluso and Blackson helped launch last year. The series is named for Christman Hall, the elegant room on the third floor of Stambaugh where it began. Saturday’s show is being moved to the larger Grand Ballroom because it is a fundraiser and a larger crowd is expected.

“We moved to the ballroom because we did include Second Harvest as an important part of the project as a fundraiser, and it gives more opportunity to sell seats and help out such a great group,” said Maluso.

Second Harvest provides food to 155 hunger-relief organizations in the three-country area, including church pantries, soup kitchens and homeless shelters, shelters for battered women and after-school programs.

Saturday’s show will be centered around the title song, but also include music from the ’70s, Broadway and more. Several guest performers — including Tom Smolko, Brittany Myhal, Jill Carmichael and Sean Philibin — will join in at different points in the 90-minute show.

“All are extremely talented and exciting performers and have great songs to share,” said Maluso. “Tom, Brittany and Sean have studied music with Rick [Blackson] and each has gone on to pursuit various and interesting opportunities in music and entertainment. We will be weaving some of their stories into the show.

“Jill Carmichael is a new discovery. She attended the Master Class from last fall’s cabaret project and blew us all away! So much so, in fact, that Tony Richards, who taught the class, told her, ‘There is nothing I can teach you about singing!’ She was doing it all correctly!”

In addition to an evening of song, each attendee will receive a complimentary glass of wine or a soft drink and a sampling of appetizers furnished by Station Square of Liberty. A cash bar will also be available.

The evening is being presented by Stambaugh Auditorium and produced by Beyond Broadway Entertainment and Ace in the Hole Marketing.

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