With 2020 being what it was, many of us likely can’t remember the last time we got to experience a classic performing arts festival—being captivated by singers, dancers and performers as they wow the crowd with impressive feats of artistic, and often athletic, skill. The can’t-miss Westhampton Beach Project is here to make up for lost time.
“After a devastating year for the arts community, I knew that it was time to launch the Westhampton Beach Project event, which has been brewing in mind for the last few years,” states Steven Colucci, president of Musical Mime Theater and founder of the Westhampton Beach Project.
“It was very hard to make the decision to go ahead with this and take over a year of planning to do it,” he says, adding that it was WHB Mayor Maria Moore who ultimately convinced him to plan it, but with every precaution in mind, of course. “The pandemic is basically working for us not against us now. We’re going to go ahead and do it, we’ll do social distancing, but everybody’s ready—ready to go out, ready for action.”
The Westhampton Beach Project hits the Great Lawn on the village’s Main Street on July 30 and 31, beginning each night at 8 p.m. The two-day festival kicks off on Friday with a musical tribute to Frank Sinatra by highly acclaimed vocalist Steven Maglio and his 11-piece Maglio Orchestra. This act has likely graced the stage at The Carnegie Club more times than any other night club act in New York City, and Maglio himself has shared the spotlight with greats like Frankie Valli, Smokey Robinson and Jordin Sparks.
The night concludes with West African and French American singer-songwriter Eva Sita, who will serenade the audience with a set list featuring songs in three different languages. Rumor has it she may even join Maglio for a few Sinatra duets.
Day two features a selection of show-stopping routines by soloist dancers from the American Ballet Theater, including Jonatan Luján, Michael de la Nuez, Jose Sebastian, Javier Rivet, Isadora Loyola and Luciana Paris, who aided Colucci in curating this event. Next up, is choreography by the Alison Cook Beatty Dance Company, an NYC-based nonprofit modern dance company. Featured dancers include Vera Paganin, Miranda Stuck, Aurélie Garcia, Mariah Anton, Asia Bonilla, Jaryd Farcon, Charles Scheland and Austin Kelly. And don’t miss an extra special performance by Aaron Smyth of America’s Got Talent fame.
While free to attend, reserved 6 p.m. VIP seating is available for $25, and VIP tickets that grant access to the cocktails and hors d’oeuvres tent are $50. Proceeds benefit the Musical Mime Company, which was founded to assemble artists in all areas of creativity and foster young, creative people throughout the world. “M&T Bank and the Lanza Family Foundation have been great supporters to this charity,” he adds.
Having gotten his start in Westhampton Beach, being among the first to transform the Hampton Arts Cinema into a concert hall before traveling the United States and Europe as a professional dancer and mime, Colucci always knew he wanted to return to Westhampton Beach for his magnum opus.
“I said the final stomping ground of Steven Colucci would be Westhampton,” he shares. “Westhampton has a lot for me here and offers a lot—brings great art and culture to the United States and (gives a platform to) young talented writers, dancers, musicians, artists, lecturers, historians …”
Having arranged, self-funded and promoted numerous events over the years, including the wildly successful Mid Hudson Festival at Bard College, Colucci has now gained substantial financial backing and is ready to bring the Mid Hudson concept to the next level. “That’s going to happen in Westhampton bigger and better, because I’m 69 years old now, and I’m going to blow it away—I know how to do it better and stronger than I ever did,” Colucci says. “I totally sponsored everything financially—Steven Colucci sponsored everything for 40 years. This is the first time I’ve ever had money donated from other sources, so now that I have funding, this is going to be up and better than anything ever.”
For more information, visit whbproject.com.