Beatles to Broadway Concert Combines New York, Mexican, and Canadian Talent
By Fredric Dannen
Some people long for careers as singers or actors, but they end up settling for something more practical. The New York stage actor and singer Mary Dillon came to her profession from the opposite direction—she had no ambitions to be an entertainer and discovered her métier almost by accident. In the early 2000s, the American-born Dillon was enrolled at Oxford, studying philosophy of the mind. “At the risk of sounding self-important,” she says, “I wanted to serve humanity, and I was chasing philosophy and metaphysics to find answers to life’s big questions.” She was quickly disillusioned. “I can tell you that even at Oxford, they don’t know,” she says.
From Beatles to Broadway
With Mary Dillon, Federico Azuz, andSusan Varcoe
Thu, Apr 21, 7pm
At La Conéxion (Aldama 3); Solutions (Recreo 11); Arthur Murray Dance Studio (Salida a Celaya 59); and online for US$13 (plus a US$1.71 transaction fee) at SteinwaySeries.com
Dillon was aware of her singing and acting talents; at Manhattan College, she had landed lead roles in musicals and plays. After returning to New York, she enrolled in the actor’s studio of Michael Beckett, dubbed the “Zen master of acting,” and he inspired her, she says, to think of acting as “a noble art form.” Dillon began to make a name for herself on the stage. Helen Gallagher, the television star (Ryan’s Hope), and two-time musical Tony winner (Pal Joey; No, No, Nanette), calls Dillon “a wonderful singer and a consummate actress.” Beckett, who is frugal with compliments, heard Dillon perform the Stephen Sondheim song “Last Midnight” (from Into the Woods), and pronounced her rendition “unforgettable.”
On Thursday, April 21, at 7pm, at the Bellas Artes, Dillon will give her first concert in San Miguel in collaboration with two talented local musicians, Mexican-born guitarist and singer Federico Azuz and Canadian-born pianist and singer Susan Varcoe. Called From Beatles to Broadway, the mainly piano/vocal concert will feature solos, duets, and three-part harmony, in songs by Broadway composers such as Sondheim, Cole Porter, and Harold Arlen, along with Beatles classics and a smattering of Elton John, Cyndi Lauper, Supertramp, and samba.
The concert will be the second offering in this year’s Steinway Series, a monthly series of benefit concerts using the Bellas Artes’ nine-foot Steinway grand. The beneficiary, Libros para Todos (makingreaders.org), is an outreach program to inspire young Mexicans to read. Advance tickets are on sale for 250 pesosat La Conéxion (Aldama 3); Solutions (Recreo 11); Arthur Murray Dance Studio (Salida a Celaya 59); and online for US$13 (plus a US$1.71 transaction fee) at SteinwaySeries.com.
Dillon, who soon returns to New York to appear in a play, was brought to San Miguel this past January to sing and act in an original musical, but that project ran into problems and was put on hold. Fellow cast member Susan Varcoe and Dillon quickly became friends, and the idea for a collaborative concert took shape. “Susan is a fantastic musician,” Dillon says. “And she’s fun to work with. Someone talented and pleasant—in this business, it’s like finding a unicorn.” Meanwhile, Dillon attended a Brazilian concert at the Teatro Ángela Peralta and heard Federico Azuz sing three songs in Portuguese. “I said right away, ‘I want to work with that guy.’”