In an iconic 1982 TV commercial, a chocolate lover collides with a peanut butter lover and two delightful tastes that one would not necessarily associate with each other combine to create a great new taste experience: peanut butter cups.
That advertisement may come to mind when one first contemplates the upcoming DeLaney Westfall and Isaac Sutton “Broadway-Israel Concert” tour, because coming from such different backgrounds, these two talented stars might seem to be a bit of an unlikely pair.
WESTFALL HAILS from Utah, where she first began wowing audiences at the age of eight with a role in the musical Annie. Her appetite for performing was whetted, she told The Jerusalem Post. With her considerable talent and charisma, her career path was not only launched, it was unstoppable. She has appeared in at least one show a year since then, usually in a lead role, and it was just a matter of time until the doors of Broadway opened wide to welcome her.
“When I was young, my mom felt that I had a special gift. She was a dancer, so she enrolled me in dance lessons. She heard how I could sing – my voice and pitch – so she arranged voice lessons. I really took to liking it and her motivation was contagious, so when they were having auditions for a musical, she took me in for the local theater and the rest is history.”
History, indeed. Westfall rocketed to fame and today is a leading Broadway star, acclaimed for leading roles in recent musicals such as Kinky Boots and Sweeney Todd.
WHEN SUTTON was eight years old, neither Utah nor performing were much in his thoughts. He was born and raised in Israel, as were his parents. His mother – an architect, not a dancer – signed him up for neither dancing school nor voice lessons.
It wasn’t until he was in the army that something happened to him that unexpectedly altered the course of his life.
“One of the officers who heard me speak said I have a very radiophonic voice,” he related to the Post, “and asked if I would be willing to be MC of the memorial ceremony of Yitzhak Rabin. I agreed. Then one of the singers who was supposed to sing the night of the ceremony got sick and they asked me if, in addition to being MC, I could also fill in and perform the piece. I said ‘sure,’ even though I had never sung in front of an audience before – and before I realized it, I found myself singing in front of 2,000 people. It was really life-changing; I still have chills when I think about that.”
Sutton’s success, however, did not go to his head.
“I didn’t think that I could pursue a professional singing/acting career, so I went and I studied business. My first degree is in business economics and I got an MBA from Tel Aviv University. But the adrenalin rush from performing stayed with me. While I was doing the MBA, I thought I should at least give it a shot. I produced my first show, and then one thing led to another and here we are today. Just follow your dream – what can I say?”
Today, Sutton is an international theater and concert headliner, a leading male vocalist, whose recent theater credits in Israel include the lead role in Stephen Sondheim’s Company; Jason Robert Brown’s Parade; the French musical Romeo & Juliette; The Mikado; 1776 and more.
HOW DID these two extraordinary stars whose pasts were so different team up?
Says Sutton, “I was invited to a launch party about two years ago for a Broadway podcast. When DeLaney started singing at the event, I said, ‘Wow – this is an amazing performer; I would love to have her as a guest at my show in New York City.’ (At the time I was performing at Feinstein’s/54 Below, which is where Studio 54 used to be.) I reached out to her after she sang and she said she would love to join and be a guest. When we performed together, she was fantastic and the chemistry was great; the shows were sold out. I said, ‘Why not come to Israel? We could do a concert tour. I’m sure that Israelis would love to hear you sing.’”
Westfall confirms Sutton’s recollections and adds, “I have a lot of places that I want to visit and weirdly enough, Israel has always been at the top of the list. I hear so much from my friends who have been there about how beautiful Tel Aviv and Jerusalem are and how nice the people are, and I am fascinated by the history. I grew up in a religious household, so a lot of the sites there will be really cool to see. I’m not sure why, but it has always been a goal of mine to go there.”
So here she comes – and the stirring blend of her angelic yet powerful voice with Sutton’s bass baritone will delight of local music and Broadway enthusiasts. When two stars of this caliber get together, standard math goes out the window and one plus one equals more than two. Like when you combine chocolate and peanut butter.
Their show will feature some of the greatest show tunes of all time, including highlights from Frozen, Wicked, Smash, Beautiful, The Phantom of The Opera, Cats, My Fair Lady, Les Misérables, Cabaret, The Sound of Music, and West Side Story – together with fascinating and intimate personal commentary and other surprises (such as, perhaps, a talented and charismatic Utah native singing a bit in Hebrew).
DeLaney Westfall & Isaac Sutton will perform “Broadway-Israel” at Yavne Theater Hall on March 21; Habima Theater in Tel Aviv on March 22; Petah Tikva Hall on March 23; Motzkin Theater in Motzkin on March 29; and Beersheba Hall on March 30. Tickets and information: https://www.bravo-online.co.il/announce/62148 or by phone at *3221 or (03) 644-3718.
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