Night of the Stars Brings the Laughs

Handprints from past BHC stars (Photo by Daniel Nozick)

The Second City Touring Company, known for launching the careers of an all-star cast of comedians including John Belushi, Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert and Steve Carell, will be performing its best sketches, songs and improvisations from the past 50-plus years on Thursday at Baltimore Hebrew Congregation’s seventh annual Night of the Stars.

The event is BHC’s annual fundraiser that directly supports the congregation’s youth education programs and scholarships including the religious school, its youth groups and the E.B. Hirsh Early Child Center, which provides care for infants through preschoolers.

Those who attend the event will get a hilarious walk through comedy history.

Amy Thompson, one of six Second City members who will be performing, described the show as a sketch comedy revue with a bit of improv worked in. Most of the sketches are archived material from the organization’s history, “the best of the best, tried and true, things that we know are hits,” she said, although some of the sketches are original material written by performers.

“The material varies in subject matter, but it is all really relatable,” she added. “A lot of it has to do with topics that are humorous trials and errors of life.”

Some sketches include a large group scene where everyone is working to incorporate a new boyfriend into their friend group by playing the game “two truths and a lie.” Another sketch portrays newscasters trying to create a reel of promotional materials, during which the troupe will humorously attempt to promote the local area and come up with jokes on the fly about different parts of the country based on suggestions from the audience.

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“With this ensemble, everyone could go do their own performance and be very successful because we have six unique, intelligent, hilarious performers working together,” said Thompson. “The show is as much fun for the people in it as it is for the people watching. We all get along, we love to make people and each other laugh, and we put all our energy into it. We love working together.”

Night of the Stars, which has featured the likes of Jason Alexander and Lily Tomlin in past years, has been in the works for a while, according to Richard Peterson, one of the event’s chairs.

“We have a committee of over 20 people that meets regularly to discuss elements of the event such as the ad book, ticket sales and venue, really everything dealing with the event,” he said.

One hundred percent of the money raised goes toward supporting the schools at the congregation.

“The scholarships are really important,” said Annette Saxon, director of development at BHC. “We want every child who wants to take part in our programs to be able to get involved no matter what. They are the most important thing that the money goes to.”

According to Saxon, there are more than 500 youths that Night of the Stars benefits. The congregation has surpassed its fundraising goal for the event every year, and for the last four years, it has almost doubled it.

This year’s event will honor Cantor Robbie Solomon and his wife, Helen. The cantor is retiring this year, and he will address the audience briefly before the show.

“My wife and I were so warmly welcomed into this community,” said Solomon. “In 2008, we came on, and it has been a lovely experience being at Baltimore Hebrew. I saw Second City perform in Chicago and I fully expect a great show. [At the event] I will just say how honored I am and how much I have enjoyed being the cantor here. I think it is a mutual love. I think it was a great fit. I just feel that this is a great end to my career.”

Tickets for the event are still available; the venue holds 900 people. Tickets range from $65 to $195, with the latter including a cocktail and supper reception at 6 p.m. catered by The Classic Catering People.

“The food is fabulous, and we have a big bar with top-shelf liquors,” said Saxon. “We go first class with this one.”

>> Doors open at 7:30 p.m. and the performance begins at 8 p.m. BHC is located at 7401 Park Heights Ave., Baltimore. For more information, visit bit.ly/NOTS2017.

dnozick@midatlanticmedia.com

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