What do you get when you mix two dozen Billy Joel classics with Motown-inspired choreography and tight, three-part harmony? You get New York State of Mind: All the Hits of Billy Joel With The Uptown Boys, the high-energy concert experience that brings FST’s Summer Cabaret Series to a close.
The show’s co-creators, John De Simini and Alexander Aguilar, met while working together on such Broadway shows as Jersey Boys, Miss Saigon, and West Side Story. In 2020, they decided to draw from their extensive experience on The Great White Way and start working on what would become New York State of Mind.
“I had the idea to create a show that brought the experience of Broadway all over the world,” said Aguilar, who also serves as the show’s choreographer. “I envisioned a show that had the energy and swagger of Jersey Boys mixed in with iconic music.”
“When Alex brought the idea to me, I was immediately in,” said De Simini, the show’s Music Supervisor. “The next step was finding a song catalog that was universally loved and that everybody could relate to. The first artist that came to mind was Billy Joel.”
Billy Joel has sold over 160 million records worldwide and is one of the best-selling musicians of all time. Featuring such songs as “She’s Got a Way,” “Movin’ Out,” and “You May Be Right,” The Uptown Boys use Joel’s rich songbook as way to share their stories of life, love, and trying to make it in The Big Apple.
“Billy Joel wrote songs that capture the human experience,” said De Simini. “He is a master musical storyteller, and his music is stylistically varied to connect with music lovers of all genres. Doo-wop, Pop, Folk, Rock & Roll… he did it all!”
New York State of Mind presents many of Joel’s biggest hits—such as “Only the Good Die Young,” “The Longest Time,” and “Piano Man”—in a fresh and interesting way. Aguilar and De Simini worked extensively on creating beautiful musical arrangements and inventive medleys that keeps the audience engaged from start to finish.
“It is certainly a challenge to change the entire way these songs have been presented to audiences for over 50 years, but our staging ultimately enhances Billy Joel’s music,” said De Simini. “We wanted to be sure not to take away from hearing the songs the way the audience wants to hear them.”
Bringing this popular music to life onstage are Michael Fasano, Sergi Robles, and Hank Von Kolnitz—all of whom make their FST debuts with New York State of Mind: All the Hits of Billy Joel. Fasano played Frankie Valli in Jersey Boys and was featured in a national tour of Jesus Christ Superstar. Robles was raised in Coral Spring, FL, and most recently spent almost an entire year at sea playing Corny Collins in Hairspray.
Von Kolnitz was part of the national tour of A Christmas Story and has played Riff in West Side Story as well as Pontius Pilate in Jesus Chris Superstar.
Created by two artists with over 40 years of Broadway experience, New York State of Mind brings the excitement and energy of New York City to the Gulf Coast—for a fraction of the cost of a plane ticket.
“Working on Broadway taught us the elements of what makes a show watchable time and time again,” said De Simini. “We’ve developed an attention to detail that we hope will translate to this show running for years on end.”
New York State of Mind – All the Hits of Billy Joel With The Uptown Boys begins playing in FST’s Court Cabaret on August 9, 2022. For tickets and more information, click here.