University City

November 9, 2012

Broadway star headlines holiday fundraiser

Singer to perform ‘Christmas in New York’

St. John Neumann Catholic Church will host a fundraising Christmas concert starring Franc D’Ambrosio on Nov. 25.

Michael Tilley, D’Ambrosio’s longtime musical director, will be the accompanist, and the concert will benefit St. John Neumann Catholic Church Youth Ministry.

The show is billed as “Franc D’Ambrosio’s Christmas in New York.”

“It’s not often a Broadway star comes to your parish,” said the Rev. Patrick Hoare.

Accomplished entertainer D’Ambrosio, 50, is probably best known as “The Iron Man of the Mask” from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Tony Award-winning musical, “The Phantom of the Opera.” D’Ambrosio held the title of World’s Longest-Running Phantom for more than a decade.

D’Ambrosio also starred as Anthony Corleone, the opera-singing son of Al Pacino in Francis Ford Coppola’s seven-time Academy Award-nominated film “The Godfather Part III.” D’Ambrosio sang the Academy Award-winning theme song “Speak Softly Love” in the film and on the original movie soundtrack.

Although Hoare, 45, didn’t know D’Ambrosio personally, he had heard that D’Ambrosio had performed benefit concerts for churches in the past.

Pastor friends of Hoare “found D’Ambrosio to be a true man of faith who desires to use his talent for the greater glory of God,” said Hoare. “So I mustered up the courage to get his contact information and ask if he would be so generous as to share his voice with us.”

D’Ambrosio immediately agreed to perform his “Christmas in New York” two-act musical production that will kick off D’Ambrosio’s 2012 Christmas concert season.

The performance “is a musical journey through New York on a day in New York City,” said D’Ambrosio.

In the first act, D’Ambrosio will transport the audience from Macy’s hustle and bustle to Lincoln Center and Central Park. He will perform a medley and finish the first act with “O Holy Night,” his favorite Christmas song.

“I love the musicality of ‘O Holy Night,’ ” said D’Ambrosio, a classically trained opera singer who studied by personal invitation with the late Luciano Pavarotti.

“Rarely do I have an opportunity to sing with that opera voice,” said D’Ambrosio, and with ‘O Holy Night,’ “I really get a chance to break out the old opera chops.”

The second act will take the audience to Rockefeller Center, with songs about ice-skating and the famous Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. D’Ambrosio will salute 5th Avenue’s big window displays with songs including “Frosty the Snowman” and “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.”

Finally, D’Ambrosio will bring the audience to St. Patrick’s Cathedral for midnight mass and a caroling sing-a-long.

“As a Christmas gift to the audience,” said D’Ambrosio, “I will be performing a medley from ‘The Phantom of the Opera.’ ”

D’Ambrosio toured “Franc D’Ambrosio’s Christmas in New York” for the 2011 Christmas season. “During the entire season, we had at least three standing ovations throughout each show,” said D’Ambrosio.

St. John Neumann Catholic Church does not normally have a Christmas concert, so this is a special event, said Hoare. It is the main fundraiser for the St. John Neumann Catholic Church Youth Ministry Program, which serves students from sixth to 12th grade.

“This makes my heart very happy,” said D’Ambrosio. “I am an active, practicing Catholic, and it’s an honor to be able to sing and to give back to the church and to the Catholic faith, raising money for a great cause.”

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