Singing and entertaining certainly did not come to a halt in the area as a result of the pandemic. In fact, thanks to a local mother-and-son team, a new outlet for local performers is available twice a week on Zoom and is streamed live on YouTube.
“Songs in the House” was conceived by Ben Feinstein, a 2018 graduate of John Jay High School who is back from college and home with his parents and younger brother in South Salem. The show was modeled after “Stars in the House,” a daily, livestreamed concert series that features Broadway stars and others of stage and screen, that took shape soon after the lockdown.
The founders of that effort are Playbill correspondent James Wesley and producer Seth Rudetsky, who have raised more than $200,000 for The Actors Fund.
Feinstein decided to start something similar for Katonah/Lewisboro artists. “I thought it would be a nice idea to do the same kind of thing with people in our community, our local stars,” he said.
It was quite helpful, of course, that Feinstein’s mother, Deborah, is a theater professional and a psychotherapist—as well as the founder of the Actors’ Studio of Westchester, where she offers instruction and directs teenagers in productions. Together, Ben and his mom began hosting the online show and reached out to local performers who they thought would like to participate—not only for fun and camaraderie, but to raise money for an excellent cause.
“I had seen something about White Plains Hospital needing donations in terms of equipment, supplies and feeding the doctors,” Deborah Feinstein said. “We put a link on the YouTube page and people can donate directly to White Plains Hospital through ‘Songs in the House.’ ”
Thus far, following the Thursday and Sunday performances at 7 p.m., the hospital has received over $500 in donations, according to the duo.
In addition to featuring local talent who gather in front of their computers to sing and perform, the concerts include commentator Bruce Sacks, a local dad, pianist and musical theater aficionado. He also happens to be a pediatrician who helpfully adds medical advice to the conversations.
If you miss the weekly livestreams on YouTube, the videos are posted following the episodes, where you can listen to renditions of “One Fine Day” from “Beautiful,” “If I Can Tell Her” from “Dear Evan Hansen,” “Journey to the Past” from “Anastasia and “She Used to Be Mine” from “Waitress,” among others.
With spring musicals canceled and students having lost their chances in schools to perform, many young people have experienced a sense of sadness. The intimate and welcoming platform of “Songs in the House” has allowed for their self-expression by providing a place to share the joy of music and fostering a sense of connectedness during this difficult period.
“You know, we are all so separate right now and I think it is a way for us to feel connected to each other and feel like we are together—we are talking to people in the community, we are bringing people together and it feels good,” the musical mom said.
“Everybody has their way of dealing with stress and anxiety and for me, having a creative project to work on is a good outlet and it is a nice way to use your energy in this time of stress.”