Friday, July 11, 2008

Neil Sedaka Surprises, Delights Playhouse Crowd

By Devin Beliveau
Staff Columnist
An American music icon graced the stage of America’s foremost summer theater on Tuesday night. Prolific songwriter Neil Sedaka, author of multiple #1 hits on the Billboard charts and an artist immortalized with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, thrilled a packed house in a surprise appearance at the Ogunquit Playhouse.
“Breaking Up is Hard to Do,” the production currently at the Playhouse, was inspired by Sedaka’s music, and features 19 of his hit songs, some that date back as far as 1958. During the introduction of Tuesday’s performance, Playhouse Executive Artistic Director Bradford Kenney alerted the audience to Sedaka’s presence among them, noting that his songs contribute to “the fabric of American culture.” At the conclusion of the show, Sedaka joined the cast onstage and received a standing ovation. “To see my songs come alive is a great thrill,” he said, “it was a marvelous production, I want to see it on Broadway!” Sedaka then led the audience in an impromptu singing of his hit song “Love Will Keep Us Together,” while laughing and exclaiming, “What’s the key? I didn’t rehearse! It’s not my key!”
Following the show Sedaka, 69, sat down with The Weekly Sentinel at a Gala party in his honor held at one of Ogunquit’s finest restaurants, Five-O.
Sedaka provided background on the play, explaining “The directors approached me two and a half years ago with the idea, and I gave them 200 of my songs to work with…My mother-in-law owned “Esther’s Manor” in the Catskills of New York, which is where the play takes place.”
Regarding his longevity, Sedaka said “I write songs and I sing because I love it and I never get tired of performing to a live audience…It’s wonderful to be able to play a Beethoven sonata, but even better to travel the world as an American musical ambassador. I put my heart into the songs and performances, I can’t do anything else, I’m terrible at everything else…I write things that are emotional and chaplinesque, songs that are singable and memorable.”
“Breaking Up is Hard to Do” is at the Ogunquit Playhouse through July 12th. Information is available at or by calling 646-5511.
Read the article on the Ogunquit Playhouse website!

Caption: Neil Sedaka leads the cast of “Breaking Up is Hard to Do” in an impromptu performance of one of his hit songs at the Ogunquit Playhouse. (Courtesy photo)