Paul Williams performing benefit concert

LONG BEACH - Academy Award-winning songwriter Paul Williams will perform a one-night only benefit concert at the Long Beach Playhouse on Sept. 8.The performance will take place in the theater's mainstage and proceeds will benefit the playhouse. "We feel incredibly fortunate and honored to have Paul Williams performing on our own stage," said Andrew Vonderschmitt, producing artistic director for the playhouse. "Williams is a musical genius and comedic wit. Our theater seats 200 so it will be a very intimate evening. I'm stilling having a hard time believing it's true." The theater's long stage will feature 10 small tables creating an intimate concert experience. Twenty people will literally share the stage with Williams, while all the seats surrounding the three sides provide an excellent view of the show, organizers said. "There is not a seat more than 30 feet from the stage," Vonderschmitt said. Williams was a student at Wilson High School and soon after graduation joined Studio 58, a local touring repertory company, so it is no surprise he is now a supporter of the Long Beach Playhouse, the oldest theater west of the Mississippi. "Like many non-profits, particularly those in arts and culture, the past few years have been financially tough," Vonderschmitt asserted. "This performance will make a world of difference to us." Along with providing the musical backdrop to daily life in the 1970s and 80s, Williams has provided song scores for the film musicals "A Star is Born," Bugsy Malone," "Phantom of the Paradise," "The Muppet Movie," "The Muppet Christmas Carol" and, more recently, for the stage: "Happy Days" and "A New Musical with Garry Marshall." In 2009, he wrote the story and songs for the Emmy nominated "A Muppet Christmas - Letters to Santa." Pop classics include "We've Only Just Begun," "Rainy Days and Mondays," "You and Me Against the World," "An Old Fashioned Love Song," "I Won't Last a Day Without You" and "Let Me Be the One." "The Rainbow Connection," from the children's classic "The Muppet Movie," and "Evergreen" from "A Star is Born," are two of his songs that grace the American Film Institute's list of the top 100 movie songs of all times. With more than 40 appearances on Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show," Williams has delighted audiences with his quirky humor and spontaneous ad-libs. His live show is a tapestry of musical memories and comedy. Currently, "Paul Williams Still Alive," the feature-length documentary by Stephen Kestler, is receiving rave reviews around the country. The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Daily Variety are among the newspapers proclaiming the film "a triumph." In 2009, Williams was elected president of ASCAP, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. "Last year Paul's wife, Mariana, hosted a storytelling competition here at the Playhouse," Vonderschmitt said. "When the idea of a benefit concert came up, we were blown away. We're a community theater, in the best sense of the word, so a star of Mr. Williams' magnitude on our stage is just incredible." Tickets are $75, $125 for regular seating and a VIP reception with Williams after the show, and $150 for stage seating and VIP reception. Tickets go on sale Aug. 12 and can be purchased online at or by calling (562) 494-1014.

********** Published: August 02, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 16

EntertainmentEric Pierce