'Red Dress Divas' to come to Hyde

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Regional - posted Tue., Nov. 20, 2012
Voices and Friends are performing for the Red Dress Divas Holiday Spectacular. Courtesy photos. - Contributed Photo

When “Follow the Fifty” project manager Linda Colangelo was setting up the nine-month-long, county-wide heart health program, she wondered how to end it. “I thought, ‘What if we could make getting heart-healthy exciting, educational and entertaining as well?’” she said. “‘What if we could give the women involved something to work towards? What if it was a show?’”

The Broadway Live production, “Red Dress Divas,” sprang from Colangelo's discussions with friends and acquaintances, many of them creative. The Red Dress is registered trademark of the National Department of Health and Human Services. It represents the national campaign to reduce heart disease among women, the number-one killer of women in the U.S. Colangelo and her creative partners paired it with a successful 2011 Broadway Live production. “We'd just come off ‘Divas in Concert,’ and that show was such a success,” she said. “Once the concept hit, it all started to flow.”

The show will feature 129 “Follow the Fifty” models, as well as the vocal performance group, Voices and Friends. There will be cameo appearances by well-known characters Fr. and Sister Hubert from previous Broadway Live productions, as well as many local physicians. Ruby the Red Dress plays a prominent role, as does the Grinchesse, a character reprised from a BL Christmas show.

“The Grinchesse is the bitter ex-wife of the Grinch who has eaten a steady diet of green eggs and ham and Who-ville pudding,” said Colangelo. “As a result, she has high blood pressure and cholesterol. She is the antithesis to our campaign. Ruby and the models adopt the Grinchesse and show her the way to heart health. It ties in to the journey our models have taken. It promotes the message of heart health in an entertaining way.”

BL CEO David Panteleakos said working with the FTF models has been incredibly rewarding. “It's been a remarkable experience knowing it will culminate in the reveal of these ladies who have been on an incredible journey to heart health,” he said. Panteleakos, who is the show's director, said it will bring the audience along on the models' journey through live and video performances. The models will don red dresses and participate. There will be singing, dancing and special moments with performances by some of the models. “It's going to be one heck of a night to share the tremendous success of the program with the community,” he said.

“To me it's going to be a beautiful display of community spirit,” said Colangelo. “It's a chance for the community to celebrate and congratulate the successes and challenges of what these models faced all year long. And it will be a chance for the models to give back to community and say 'thank you' for that unwavering support.”

“Red Dress Divas” will be held at the Hyde Cultural Center on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20. Proceeds from ticket sales will benefit HealthQuest Northeast Connecticut. The show is produced by Broadway Live productions in partnership with the Northeast District Department of Health and HealthQuest Northeast Connecticut. For more information, go to www.followthefifty.org.

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