In anticipation of The Ellen Hermanson Foundation’s An Evening of Enchantment, honoring BNB Bank and Senator Kenneth P. LaValle, at Topping Rose House in Bridgehampton on Saturday, July 27, we caught up with the evening’s entertainment, Broadway star Samantha Massell, and the Foundation’s co-founder Julie Ratner.
Will this be your first time performing at an Ellen Hermanson Foundation benefit?
SM: Yes, it will be.
And why was this a cause you wanted to support?
SM: Two reasons. One, Julie, who runs the Foundation, is a very close family friend. I actually call her my auntie. So I’ve been participating in Ellen Hermanson Foundation events, not performing at them, but participating for my whole life – me and my mom. So I’m really excited to get to be there in a more important capacity and give back in that way. And the other thing I really love about the Foundation, which I think differentiates it from other charities, is that it does a lot, not just for research, but it does a lot in the community to promote access to qualify for healthcare. So it really gives back to the community where it raises money for. It does a lot of good in the Hamptons. I think that’s really wonderful.
Will this be your first time performing in the Hamptons?
SM: No, I actually, ironically, was one of the performers of Bay Street Gala a few weekends ago out at
Wölffer Estate. Just a total, total chance that it happened to be twice in one month.
What will your An Evening of Enchantment performance entail?
SM: I’m coming out with my really good friend Madeline and we’re performing a selection of songs from the American Songbook by Dorothy Fields, who’s really the only female contributor to that period of songs that are so famous. That’s why we thought that was a really interesting topic to explore. We really wanted to do something that focuses on women, but also I think at events like these people love to hear songs that they know. It’s exciting to celebrate one of the major female voices of that time period. We’re singing some Dorothy Fields, and then at the end, we might have a special treat of a song. It’s going to be some awesome, beautiful standards.
When preparing for a benefit, like Bay Street’s or The Ellen Hermanson Foundation’s, how does that differ from preparing for a Broadway show?
SM: Well, it’s very different. For a Broadway show, you’re rehearsing for five weeks, and then probably another week or two of rehearsals in the theater. Here, especially with an event like An Evening of Enchantment, not only am I the performer but with my friend Madeline I’m cultivating entertainment for the evening and coming up with the program and developing all of that. You have a little more control in the process, which is really fun and exciting. You get to choose what you want to present and how you want to present it. You get to be in, as we would say in the business, both in front of the table and behind the table.
What projects are you working on at the moment?
SM: Well, I just closed a new musical out of town called The Flamingo Kid. Most Broadway shows before they come to New York sort of test the waters in a regional house in another city to see how audiences respond and they put in changes and you’re getting new scripts pages every day and new songs, etc. So I just did an out of town run of a new musical called The Flamingo Kid based on the 1984 movie of the same name. We literally just closed it and we’re all hoping that we’ll hear something great about it soon.
Is there anything else you’d like to ask?
SM: I’m just I’m really excited to be there to support Julie and The Ellen Hermanson Foundation. I think it’s going to be a beautiful evening.
Tell us a little bit about this year’s honorees and their involvement with the Foundation?
JR: This year’s honorees are Senator Kenneth LaValle who has been a friend to the Foundation for years. He has been a partner coming to the Run every year and importantly being an advocate for access to breast health care.
BNB Bank has been in boars with the Foundation almost since the beginning in 1996. BNB Bank has generously supported our work in the community and was one of the first to contribute to the Foundation when we made the decision to fund The Ellen Hermanson Breast Center.
What can An Evening of Enchantment attendees expect?
JR: Attendees can expect an enchanted evening filled with delicious Jean Georges food in a beautiful venue, a fun live auction with auctioneer Lucas Hunt, silly photos in the photo booth, music and dancing and a wonderful musical performance by Broadway star Samantha Massell.
Speaking of Samantha, tell us a little bit about her and her performance?
JR: Samantha is a rising star on Broadway. She’s is a gifted actor and singer. Two years ago she played Hodel in Fiddler in the Roof and wowed audiences with her beautiful solo.
For our event, she will be singing a medley of songs and possibly be performing a new song written by her accompanist.
What fabulous items will be available in this year’s live auction?
JR: We have a terrific live auction consisting of five lots: An accompanied 3-some at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club; lunch for two lucky people with the iconic, effervescent Dr. Ruth; two tickets to opening night at the Metropolitan Opera to see Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, plus the opening the pre-opera cocktail reception and dinner for two at Lincoln Restaurant; two tickets to Ellen DeGeneres and two nights at the famous Hollywood hotel Chateau Marmont; and tickets for two to Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen.
What will this year’s proceeds support?
JR: This year we will be raising money to support Ellen’s Well and and all the programs that come under its umbrella including our full-time ontological social worker.
We will also be raising money to underwrites a new ultrasound system that will be state of the art technology in imaging.
Tickets to An Evening of Enchantment start at $600.
Topping Rose House is located at 1 Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike in Bridgehampton. For more information, visit www.ellenhermanson.org.