Performer woos audience and grandma

Mike Cefalo's grandmother, Carmella Distazio, made the trip from Pittsburgh to attend his performance at Porter Library on Feb. 16. Photo by Louise Seeholzer

Rising star Mike Cefalo displays an energy and talent that easily wins an audience. His musical program of jazz standards, classical and contemporary musical theater songs, as well as pop songs, was sponsored by the Westlake-Westshore Arts Council and presented at Porter Public Library on Feb. 16.

Cefalo’s program took off with his rendition of the upbeat "Volare," followed by the smooth ballad "You’d Be So Easy to Love." His warm, rich voice, expressive delivery and easy communication with his audience reflected Baldwin Wallace Music Theater’s excellent voice and theater training. But his genuinely friendly nature and ready smile enhance his ability to strike a chord with his audience.     

Midway through his program, Cefalo shared that he is from Pittsburgh and some of his family, including his grandmother, surprised him by driving in for the program. His grandmother, Carmella Distazio, was enthusiastically welcomed with applause and Cefalo captured every heart in the room when he sang an Italian ballad for her.

Following his program, Cefalo took questions from the audience. In doing so, he described his parents as “amazing” and “supportive” even in the light of his switch of career goals from doctor to performer. Cefalo’s summer 2015 performance in Albany, New York, as Cosmo Brown in "Singin' in the Rain," which earned him glowing reviews, prompted a request for him to sing the title song. After a successful search for the music for his accompanist, Cefalo obliged.

More than one audience member wished the facility could accommodate the showcasing of Cefalo’s tap dancing skills. And many audience members shared the thought that this was definitely a “Rising Star” to watch. A day may come when the lyrics “... it’s time for you to shine brighter than a shooting star” will be his fitting caption.

Cefalo was accompanied by pianist Peter Van Reesema, a senior music theater major who entered BW as a classical piano major. His exposure to the musical theater program through friends resulted in his change of majors. He smilingly commented that he always meets people who need an accompanist. Van Reesema, who is from Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Cefalo have high praise for Baldwin Wallace. Cefalo said he found BW’s theater program the “most relevant” to his needs and called it “the friendliest of all schools.” 

The "Catch a Rising Star" program, which provides an opportunity to enjoy a young, talented, trained performer, is offered free by the WWAC in keeping with its mission to provide the community with an enhanced and broadened cultural life that will promote awareness, education and involvement in the arts.

Louise Seeholzer

Publicist for Westlake-Westshore Arts Council

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Volume 8, Issue 5, Posted 9:34 AM, 03.01.2016