The Best Of Times, held on Saturday, November 30th, was New Bedford Festival Theatre’s star-studded event at the Zeiterion Performing Arts Center. The evening was a smashing success, with Representative Antonio Cabral in attendance. Mayor Jon Mitchell welcomed former mayors Scott Lang, Fred Kaliz, and John Bullard. The community came out to honor George Charbonneau, Armand Marchand, and NBFT for it’s 30th anniversary season. Twenty performers traveled on the holiday weekend to perform a litany of NBFT hits, including “What I Did For Love”, “Master Of The House”, and “All That Jazz”. There was a 9 piece orchestra on stage which was led by former NBFT music director, Tobias Monte.
Notable performances were the epic “Memory” from Cats sung by John Michael Dias, a very accomplished NBFT alum who has gone on to star on Broadway as Frankie Valli of the Four Seasons in the smash hit Jersey Boys, as well as in the first national tour, and in the Vegas and Chicago companies. Dias has also appeared on Broadway as Neil Sedaka in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, a role he also originated for the Beautiful first national tour.
Another highlight of the evening was Stacey Geer, a local powerhouse who has appeared in several Festival Theatre shows, including as Tessie Tura in Gypsy and as Miss Andrew and Mrs. Corry in Mary Poppins. Geer sang “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” from Gypsy and “I Could Have Danced All Night” from My Fair Lady.
One of the most touching moments in the show was when George Charbonneau sang “Song In The Sand” from NBFT’s first musical La Cage Aux Folles, dedicated to Marchand. Not a dry eye in the house!
Closing out the night, Armand serenaded the crowd from the stage with “It’s Almost Like Being In Love”. And the crowd was definitely in love!
The full house gave a standing ovation at the end of the performance. After the performance Marchand and Charbonneau greeted audience members at a photo and autograph session in the Penler Lounge, followed by a reception at the Wamsutta Club.