Magical duo returns to Sussex-Wantage library

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  • Photo by Viktoria-Leigh Wagner Singer Francine Evans sings and performs while her husband, Joel Zelnik, plays the keyboard.



Married couple Francine Evans and Joel Zelnik have been performing their original 20-plus shows together for about seven years, says singer Evans, who has more than 20 years in the music/entertainment business.

Last August, the musical team performed their Off-Broadway cabaret show ‘DESTINATION: Las Vegas — The Musical Journey’ in the library’s amphitheater, which ran for five months Off-Broadway a year-and-a-half ago. This past Sunday, free to all community members, about 40 people enjoyed the musical talents of the husband/wife musical team.

“We wrote ‘Broadway Magic’ two years ago, and perform it about seven times a year,” says pianist/keyboardist Zelnik, who has more than 50 years in the business. “This show features the great songwriters of Broadway and includes 24 songs from the 1920s up to modern-day. Our show includes material like ‘Haben Sie Gehört Das Deutsche Band?’ from The Producers and ‘Corner of the Sky’ from Pippin.”

Zelnik said he's a romantic and loves songs like "How Are things in Glocca Morra" from "Finian's Rainbow."

Evans has produced more 100 shows herself, including ‘DESTINATION: Las Vegas.’

“We have another show opening April 27th Off-Broadway at "Don’t Tell Mama," a cabaret on 343 West 46th Street, NYC. called ‘ALL THE WAY with Francine Evans and Joel Zelnik,’” she said. “Long-time friends David Cox and Brian Glassman will be joining us with Cox on percussion and Glassman on bass. ‘All The Way’ highlights all of the different shows we’ve ever written.”

Annually, Evans and Zelnik perform more than 100 engagements together. “We perform for a lot of libraries and find the audiences are always very responsive,” says Evans. Wallace Butler of Wantage came to see the show because of his love for music.

“I like to see Broadway shows as much as I can,” Butler said. “I like a lot of new-age music, quiet songs that are easy to listen to. But then, I also really like to listen to 50s rock ‘n’ roll. I really enjoyed listening to ‘Sunrise, Sunset’ from Fiddler on the Roof today. That song really gets to me, and especially to those with children.”

The hour-long event was sponsored by the Friends of the Sussex-Wantage Library.

“Besides musical-based entertainment, the Friends try to bring art, science and historical programs to the library. We’re also looking to add other topics in the fall to appeal more to kids, teens and adults,” Friends President Jayne McHugh said. “With the limited amount of volunteers on our board, we’re forced to limit our events in the coming year. If interested in becoming a Friends volunteer to help plan, publicize and run events, contact the library’s front desk at (973) 875-3940.”

Wantage resident Mary Cafarelli has been a member of the Friends for about a decade.

“I am a wonderful appreciative audience,” she said. “I love George Gershwin. They sang ‘I Got Rhythm’ and ‘Of Thee I Sing.’”

Cafarelli said Gershwin was a big part of her childhood.

“My parents had a set of records of all Gershwin music," she said. "I used to play them over and over, and would sing and dance to them pretending I was a great star.” Cafarelli attended the last Evans-Zelnik performance at the library and says, “The Friends organization does a wonderful job bringing all types of programs for people of all ages in the community to the library, whether they’re craft programs, musical plays or artistic workshops.”

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