A young man decided to leave his parents’ home and begin a show business career. His father, who wanted him to study medicine, said, “If you do, don’t use my surname.” “So I’ll change my name,” replied the son. “But if you’re a success, how will the neighbors know you’re my son?”
Gloria and I were in central New Jersey and by chance saw a show performed by husband-and-wife team Cathy and Michael Chimenti, who sang musical classics from Broadway. Now why would a Queens-based columnist decide to review an act in New Jersey? Why, because we love vintage Broadway musicals and … well, just read on.
As the Chimentis took to the stage, Michael hesitated, stared at me sitting in the first row and asked, “Aren’t you Alex Berger from the Bayside Times?” I was flattered. Imagine someone recognizing me in New Jersey. He shook my hand and I whispered that I would see him after the performance.
Many show business people work all their lives to become famous, then go around in dark glasses so nobody will know who they are.
The Chimentis brought the house down with their rendition of many wonderful selections from Broadway with occasional light banter in-between. At its conclusion, Gloria and I approached the singers and told them how much we enjoyed the show and if they would sit for an interview. “Yes,” Michael replied, “after we change.”
So, over a cup of coffee, we learned — surprise, surprise — Michael Chimenti and Cathy Bandin were Queens kids, she having grown up in Astoria and he in Rosedale. Now they reside in Oakland Gardens. And, get this, both read my column in the Bayside Times.
“How did you begin?” I began.
Michael grasped Cathy’s hand and said they both loved to sing at an early age — Michael in church and Cathy in the shower. He began performing in musical productions at Chaminade High School in Mineola, L.I. Cathy, living in Bayside, did a multitude of cabaret work in New York City. It was at a demo recording studio in Valley Stream, L.I., for Backstage, the actor’s newspaper, that, as Michael told it, “She fell in love with the handsome, charming musical director of the recording studio. That was me.” When she returned a few days later to pick up her demo tape, she also picked up a husband. They married in 1995.
Cathy knew they would make a great show business team, particularly when she surprised him by knowing all the words to “A Chorus Line” and “Annie” on their first date. But show business had to wait with the arrival of their two children, Juliana and Mikey. Now that the kids are older, it was time to resume their careers.
Their first break came at Little Neck’s Deepdale Pool at their season-ending Labor Day party. From there they performed at the Samuel Field YM/YMHA and have not stopped since. They currently bring their act to recreational and senior centers, libraries, temples, hospitals and condos in Queens and Long Island — anyplace with a stage and an audience. Recently, they began performing their show in New Jersey.
Cathy said their act, which recalls the wonderful years of Broadway musicals, appeals to most everyone — seniors in particular. Michael related a funny incident which occurred while they were performing at an adult community. A lady asked Michael to help her open a bottle of seltzer while he was in the middle of a passionate love song. He cheerfully obliged.
Many a show business personality prefers his name in lights on Broadway rather than in bank books.
During the past five years, the Chimentis have been performing their own original cabaret act, “Broadway Babies,” ranging from a 45-minute, one-act to a 2-hour, two-act show with piano accompaniment or recorded music. It depicts the true story of the Chimentis based on episodes that shaped their lives together. Cathy added, “It is a reverent look at love, marriage, children and, of course, Broadway.”
The Chimentis also include a few classic favorites by Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald, if requested by the audience. Their desired goal is to perform everywhere, please everyone and do it on every stage and venue they can — and, hopefully, one day combine their singing and acting talents and star together on Broadway. Until then, they will keep on performing before any and all audiences because it is their labor of love. Bravo!
Show business people can be led and bled, used and abused, kicked and spurned, but most always come up smiling.
Contact columnist Alex Berger at timesledge
©2010 Community News Group
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