Imagine being on the marquee at the Marquee.
That describes Broadway performers Matt Cavenaugh and Jenny Powers who will be sharing bill this coming Friday night, October 28, at the Marquee at 960 Main Street in downtown Hartford, on the mezzanine of what was once the G. Fox Department Store.
The duo will be performing a variety of Broadway tunes as a benefit for the Hartford Children’s Theater, a non-profit organization that has been creating and offering theatrical performances by and for children in the greater Hartford area for the past 20 years. Ryan Ratelle, the Artistic Director of the Children’s Theater, has known Matt and Jenny since his days in New York as a press agent, where we worked on such shows as the revivals of “West Side Story,” which starred Cavenaugh and “Grease,” which featured Powers. He invited them to perform at this benefit and they readily agreed.
Cavenaugh and Powers have been married since 2009 and between themselves have appeared in a slew of musicals, both on Broadway and across the country. But they have only performed together in one show, the highly-touted revision of the Charles Strouse-Lee Adams musical, “It’s A Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s Superman,” in Dallas in 2010. That’s why they welcomed this opportunity to appear together.
“”We’re always looking for opportunities to work together,” Powers explained in a recent telephone interview. The couple recorded their first album together last spring, called “Gonna Make You Love Me,” which features their unique cover versions of classic rock, traditional standards and contemporary pop. The album came out in at the end of April and is available through their websites and at various online musical stores.
In between their busy Broadway and musical performances, the couple has found time to appear together with symphony orchestras, at benefit galas, at award shows and earlier this month they performed at the annual Cabaret Convention at Town Hall in New York City. They’d clearly like to do more and, as Powers indicates, each appearance seems to lead to additional offers for the husband and wife team to perform together. In addition, they have also offered master classes in musical theater to students in various communities where they have performed together.
For the Hartford engagement, the duo will perform selections from the album, as well as personal favorites from their theatrical careers. Selections will include their new take of the Etta James classic, “Sunday Kind of Love,” as well as a jazz version of “Smother Me with Kisses.” Cavenaugh’s repertoire will be represented by “Maria” and “Tonight” from “West Side Story,” while a highlight from Powers’ career will be “More Than I Am” from the Broadway musical “Little Women.”
“This will be the first time that we will be performing this song together,” Powers says, so Hartford audiences will be treated to a Cavenaugh-Powers premiere.
“I love partnering with a major non-profit and educational organization,” adds Cavenaugh, “especially one with the history of the Hartford Children’s Theater. We’re also excited to be playing at the Marquee space. It looks like a beautiful room and we’re both anxious to see the space.”
Cavenaugh has performed in Hartford once before, at the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, when he appeared in the national tour of “Thoroughly Modern Millie.” Earlier this summer, Powers appeared for the first time with the Berkshire Theatre Festival in their production of the musical “Tommy” at the Colonial Theater in Pittsfield, which had just merged with the Berkshire Theater Festival.
“What’s exciting about working on these appearances together,” Powers explains, “is that we are not playing characters. We’re up there onstage as Matt and Jenn. We can be raw and spontaneous.”
“You’re seeing a real life married couple,” Cavenaugh is quick to add. “We can riff off of each other. We can show how much we’re enjoying singing together.” Powers reported she recently gave a spontaneous wink to Cavenaugh during a performance and an audience member came up afterwards to explain how touched and moved she was to catch a glimpse of that special moment between husband and wife.
The couple are looking forward to a number of joint bookings in this year and next, including a gig at Birdland in New York. In the meantime, they are individually exploring some opportunities on Broadway and in television, where they each have made appearances on such New York-based shows as the “Law and Orders,” “Six Degrees,” and “Nurse Jackie.”
Tickets for Friday night’s benefit range from $50 to $75 and are available for purchase online at the Hartford Children’s Theater website. All tickets include a one hour open bar and hors d’oeuvres. Red Carpet level tickets are $75 and include a private pre-show champagne reception with the two stars from 5-6 p.m.. Show time will be 6 p.m.