Three Musical Ladies Offer Delightful ‘Songbook’ Hits At Sold-Out Benefit For Delray Playhouse Children’s Theatre

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By: Dale King Contributing Writer

Three award-winning lady music makers – singer/actors Laura Hodos and Shelley Keelor – accompanied by accomplished keyboardist Caryl Fantel on piano – delivered an excellent evening of music to a sold-out crowd March 2 at the Delray Beach Playhouse.

It was rewarding for both the audience – which rejoiced with jubilant applause to a jubilee of fine, old tunes – and for the Delray Beach Playhouse children’s theatre program, which will receive the funds raised that evening.

Laura is an award-winning singer, actor, improv artist and cabarista. Shelley is an international entertainer, award-winning actress and singer. Both have taken home Carbonell Awards – South Florida’s equivalent of Broadway’s Tony – and Laura is up for another trophy this year. She’s been nominated in the Best Actress (musical) category for Freaky Friday at Slow Burn Theatre.

Caryl, who also has a Carbonell at home along with a Silver Palm award, is a music director, piano accompanist and vocal coach with more than 25 years of experience working with celebrated performers and musicians at theatres, concert halls and other venues around the US. She frequently appears on stage with his her percussionist husband, Roy.

The ladies – elegantly coiffed and gowned — kicked off the show with an up-tempo duet, “You’re the Top,” then proceeded to trade solos back and forth, offering fine melodic renditions from film and Broadway.

While giving the appearance of a long-time friendship, Shelley and Laura admitted it was their first time performing on stage together.

Audiences enjoyed a variety of memorable tunes, like “Don’t Rain on My Parade,” “Someone to Watch Over Me,” “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” “Night and Day,” “At Last,” “My Favorite Things” and many more – from Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, Judy Garland, Ethel Merman and Marilyn Monroe.

Actually, Shelley took Monroe’s “I want to be loved by you” from Some Like it Hot to the next level, trolling the audience for someone to sing to. Hodos did the same earlier in the show, and snagged a guy named Ernie for a song and dance.

Their banter included some personal stuff. Laura, who hails from New Jersey, said she’s a good baker – specializing in “ugly cakes” — but a bad cook. A voiceover artist for Walt Disney World, she’s an aspiring photographer, mom to three cats and a proud member of Actors’ Equity.

Kentucky-bred Shelley is a Disney Teaching Artist and provides private voice lessons at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre Conservatory of Performing Arts, at the Kravis Center and at Saint Andrews School in Boca Raton. She resides in Jupiter with her beloved son and cats.

Caryl’s piano work has been heard from Carnegie Hall and New York’s York Theatre to the Adrienne Arsht, Kravis and Broward centers; the Maltz Jupiter Theatre; University of Miami, Lynn University, Florida Atlantic University and Nova Southeastern University, among others.

Her keyboard abilities are obvious and entertaining.

Laura and Shelley wrapped up their performance with tunes from the repertoires of Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand and Ethel Merman, among others.

Money raised will aid the playhouse’s children’s theatre program begun in 1997. The center quickly evolved from acting classes with seven children and an instructor, Miss Dolly, to a full-fledged, performing arts curriculum of acting, stage movement, voice, dance and a multi-faceted staff of accredited professionals

In 2005, the Children’s Theatre was added as an annex to the main playhouse, with 4,000-square-feet of performance space.