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Julie Benko returns to the Hangar Theatre for ‘Night of The Living Musicals’

Julie Benko

The Hangar Theatre will host the benefit “Night of the Living Musicals” at 3-5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 23, on its Outdoor Stage in a heated, open-sided tent.

Julie Benko, the actor-musician who delighted audiences as Girl in the Hangar’s production of “Once” this past July, will headline the event, accompanied by Jeff Thiess.

Attendees can enjoy hors d’oeuvres from Ithaca Bakery catering, wine from Sheldrake and Damiani vineyards, and beer from Lucky Hare Brewing, while socializing with Ithaca’s change-makers and art lovers. Attendees can take a keepsake photo of themselves in costume at Jyl’s Photobooth, hear live music, and support Hangar Theatre’s ambitious and exciting plans in the process.

Proceeds will benefit thousands of community members who rely on the Hangar’s year-round cultural programming. Costumes are optional, but attendees are encouraged to dress up as their favorite musical, or a character from it. A prize will be awarded for “Best Costume.”

Hangar Theatre artistic director Shirley Serotsky stated: “We hope to have your support in increasing access to arts education programming for all young people, allowing them the opportunity to express their most authentic and joyful selves through theatre, music, storytelling, and movement. The funds we raise will help enhance the experiences of young artists and their ability to pursue their best paths.”

About the performers

Since her time at the Hangar, Benko has presented a workshop performance of her original full-length play-with-music, “The District,” set in the legal red-light district that existed in New Orleans prior to World War One, at the Astoria Performing Arts Center in Queens, N.Y. Her debut album, “Introducing Julie Benko,” is available for purchase, and she is currently recording her second record for release next spring: a duo jazz album with pianist (and her new spouse) Jason Yeager. She was awarded the Gold Medal and Johnny Mercer Award at the 2017 American Traditions Vocal Competition, as well as the Wilde Award for “Best Actress in a Musical” for her performance as Girl in “Once.” She holds a BFA in Drama and an MFA in Acting from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.

Benko’s acting highlights include Broadway revivals and national tours of “Les Miserables,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” and “Spring Awakening,” as well as leading roles in off-Broadway and regional productions of “Once,” “Rags,” “The Fantasticks,” “Our Town,” “The Golem of Havana,” “Bar Mitzvah Boy,” and more.

Accompanying Benko on piano is Jeff Theiss, music director and assistant professor in the Department of Theatre Arts at Ithaca College. Theiss was the music director for the Grammy Award winner “The Band’s Visit,” a musical that opened on Broadway in 2017. He is a highly in-demand music director, accompanist, arranger, and coach in New York and throughout the country, and has served as the music director at The REV Theatre Company in Auburn, N.Y., since 2009.

Theiss and Benko will be performing a mix of classical and contemporary favorites from hit musicals like “My Fair Lady,” “Les Miserables,” “The Band’s Visit,” “Funny Girl,” “Guys and Dolls,” and, of course, “Once.”

Ticket information

A $250 donor ticket includes a $150 tax-deductible gift to the Hangar, a $100 patron ticket covers the cost of attendance, and a $25 community ticket is available to make this event accessible to anyone.

For those that cannot attend the event, they can purchase a “staycation” raffle ticket for their chance to win prizes like a lake cottage stay, an overnight stay at Firelight Camps, a Discover Cayuga Lake boat cruise, local gift cards, event tickets, and more. News about the Hangar’s 2022 season, and an announcement of the costume and raffle winners, will close out the evening.

Learn more or buy now at or by phone at (607) 273-2787.

Jim Catalano covers the Finger Lakes music scene for WITH (90.1 FM in Ithaca, and its affiliates.