Queens Theatre postpones Legislative Revue benefit

Former Borough President Claire Shulman and former city Council Speaker Peter Vallone, Sr., perform in the 2007 Legislative Revue.
By Connor Adams Sheets

The beloved Legislative Revue performance, held every other year at Queens Theatre in the Park and starring the borough’s elected officials, has been postponed from Nov. 20, much to the disappointment of its organizers and those who planned to participate.

The off-beat musical comedy has been a centerpiece of the nonprofit’s fund-raising calendar since 1997, when Jeffrey Rosenstock, the theater’s executive director, created and first produced the show.

Featuring elected officials from throughout Queens, the revue is a rare chance for residents to see the fun side of their elected officials, who don costumes and makeup and dance and sing their way through a full billing of songs with lyrics based on political issues of the day.

Rosenstock said he decided that the theater would not be able to give the show its due this fall due to a number of issues confronting the performance center.

“When you put 30-plus elected officials on the stage, it’s a very major undertaking, and I looked at it for this fall, given the constraints on us right now. As a nonprofit, we’re facing a lot of challenges in this economy,” he explained. “When you have everyone in the community coming to watch this, you want to make sure you hit a home run, and I wanted to make sure we had enough power this year.”

The last Legislative Revue brought in more than $90,000 for the theater, making it one of its most significant fund-raisers, Rosenstock said. But cuts have since been made in grants and other funding, and staffing is now reduced, while ticket sales looked sluggish and a number of other problems made the prospect of staging the performance a dubious one at this point.

Rather than put on the show without the necessary resources, Rosenstock decided several weeks ago to wait and put on the revue when the theater is fully prepared.

State Assemblyman William Scarborough (D-St. Albans), who danced with fellow politicians in a rendition of “Dreamgirls,” retitled “Queens Girls,” in the 2007 revue, said he was disappointed the show had to be postponed, but he looks forward to being in it again in the future.

“It’s unfortunate. It’s an opportunity for our legislators to come out and show their skills or lack of skills, and I think it’s been an entertaining evening for all of us that have been involved in it and it’s for a good cause,” he said.

State Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone) also participated in the “Queens Girls” song, and in a previous show donned a grass skirt for a musical number.

“It’s a lot of fun and it’s is a good opportunity to help out the theater and have an enjoyable experience all at the same time,” she said. “It’s also an opportunity for everybody to come together. Nobody takes anything seriously and everyone has a good time.”

Despite the unplanned postponement, the show is not going away, Rosenstock pledged.

“I love doing it and I think you find out [the politicians’] hidden talents, and they really go out on a limb for us,” he said. “It will definitely happen again soon.”

Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at csheets@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

More from Around New York