Once Upon A Dream

“You’re never too old and it’s never too late.” That’s the message in the music of Judith Whitmore, Billy Grubman, Lynn O’Hearn Wagner and Frances Young Bennett, a vocal group from Southern California who will present their debut concert at the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in New York City on October 12, 2014. The concert, Once Upon A Dream, will feature solo and group performances of Broadway melody favorites by Gershwin, Porter, and Sondheim and will benefit the Dream Street Foundation, which provides camping programs for children with chronic and life-threatening illnesses.

Sharing a passion for singing since childhood, the group agrees the road to Carnegie Hall has been a worthwhile yet uphill climb. Even for Frances, the group’s only professional singer who the Los Angeles Times hailed “a soprano of sheer purity,” performing on stage at the legendary concert hall was a distant dream. “I was just doing the only thing I knew how to do,” Frances said, referring to her career path. “But I had people who helped and supported me and it worked out. I am so honored and grateful to be a part of this group.”

As for the others, diverging roads took them in directions devoid of the stage for decades. Judith, who in college sang background vocals for Capitol Records, substituted her dream with a master’s degree in clinical psychology, and became a jet pilot and best-selling novelist of Come Fly with Me. Her brother, Billy, spent 40 years in the boardrooms of corporate America; and Lynn, Judy’s neighbor, built a career in advertising before returning to her passion.

“As you grow up and grow older, life often gets in the way of your childhood dreams,” reflects Lynn, who for years took business clients to see Phantom of the Opera every chance she got. “Each time I saw that play I was haunted by this nagging feeling of a dream unfulfilled,” she said. “In life, you go on and do other things, but music comes from a different place. You cannot deny it.”

The gravitational force that pushed Judith, Billy, and Lynn away from music until ages 50+ was also what pulled them together decades later when Lynn bumped into Frances, her old high school classmate. “Their chance meeting really got the ball rolling,” Billy said, who admitted getting to Carnegie Hall would be a challenge at their age. “When you’re young, people are encouraging. It’s a leap to do it at this age—an age when most people are retired or planning for their golden years.”

The group, accompanied by pianist Dennis Castellano and directed by Myrona DeLaney, will perform a medley of songs that include Starting Here, Starting Now, They Can’t Take That Away From Me, and Thank You For The Music, reflecting their love for singing and their personal journeys to Carnegie Hall.

“As much as this moment is about performing live at the one of the most famous concert halls in the world, it’s also symbolic of following your dreams, even if it takes fifty years,” said Judith. “If there’s one thing we hope the audience will take away from Once Upon A Dream—other than a night of light-hearted fun and great music—it’s the notion that although life can take unforeseen twists and turns and lead you down blind alleyways, the road to your dreams never really disappears.”

Once Upon A Dream will be featured at the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, New York City on October 12, 2014 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $30. Proceeds benefit the Dream Street Foundation. Established in 1990, Dream Street Foundation provides camping experiences for children with chronic or life threatening illnesses with one-week programs in California, Arizona, Mississippi, Arkansas and New Jersey. For more information, visit: dreamstreetfoundation.org.

A documentary film is also being produced about the group’s journey to Carnegie Hall.

To purchase tickets for the show, visit www.carnegiehall.org, call CarnegieCharge at 212-247-7800, or visit the box office at 57th and Seventh.