On Saturday, June 18th, fans of the immortal Al Jolson will flock to the Mayflower Club in North Hollywood for a live tribute to the man still honored internationally as the world’s greatest entertainer. The emcee for the evening will be none other than Ed Sullivan, played by the incredible impressionist/entertainer, Michael Sherman.
Most of the show’s cast and the producers are members of the International Al Jolson Society. The show is their way of keeping Jolson’s memory alive and creating new interest in the man who was far more important than many people realize. While it is commonly known that his comedic style and electrifying performances inspired many others to greatness in entertainment, including Elvis Presley whose controversial hip movements are strikingly reminiscent of Jolson’s, seldom is it mentioned that he helped the careers of many, such as Cab Calloway, James Cagney and Eubie Blake, and that he championed the rights of African-American performers. Also, Jolson was not only the first to entertain troops in WWII; it was his demand to volunteer to entertain those troops that inspired the creation of the USO. These are just a few of the reasons Al Jolson has garnered such devotion long after his death in 1950.
The June 18th show will feature several known Jolson performers. Richard Halpern, known as Mr. Tin Pan Alley and who plays to standing room crowds monthly at the Cicada Club in Los Angeles, is at the top of the guest list. Rick Rogers, one of the show’s producers and whose admiration of Jolson started his show business career, will present his uncanny version of Jolson singing rock and roll hits. Those who follow the West Coast Tin Pan Alley genre of entertainment will be pleased to see singer and pianist Brad Kay on the bill for a Durante-Jolson duet. But this is not an all male show. The ladies featured will be award winning jazz vocalist Sharon Evans (the show’s co-producer), Czigi Sartor, the delightful Mistress of Song, and teenaged singing sensation Sarah Stone who has appeared in local productions of Broadway musicals. In a duet with Richard Halpern, Miss Stone will represent one of Jolson’s most beloved co-stars and dearest member of the Al Jolson Society, Miss Sybil Jason (The Singing Kid, Warner Brothers).
To add to the fun there will be an Al Jolson Contest and trivia questions with prizes. Members of the Al Jolson Society will be present to judge the contest. Michael Sherman, known for playing variety show host Ed Sullivan for various Beatles groups, will also participate in the contest. The producers are holding the list of contestants open for others who may want to participate.
For those unfamiliar with the venue for the Jolson show, the Mayflower Club boasts fine entertainment for the North Hollywood community. While not grouped with the theaters in the NOHO Arts District, few in the area can surpass the Mayflower Club for the quality of its shows, its pricing and hospitality. With a full sized kitchen offering British treats, the historic Masquers’ bar (brought to America by actor Alan Mowbray), free parking, and seating for nearly two hundred people, the Mayflower Club is a very comfortable place to relax and enjoy an hour or two of entertainment.
Tickets for the Al Jolson Tribute Show are $12 in advance or $15 at the door. Show time is 8:00 p.m. on Saturday June 18, 2011. To purchase tickets and get information for this event, contact the Mayflower Club at 818/769-9805 or visit their web site at www.mayflower.com. Information is also available at www.evansandrogers.com.