‘Ain’t no Mountain high enough’ for Bay Ridge’s beloved Rhapsody Players

BAY RIDGE — “It was a marvelous night for a moondance” on Saturday, Sept. 7 when the Rhapsody Players vocal group, under the direction of founding member John Heffernan, presented a program featuring 30 hits from the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s and ’80s at St. Mary’s Antiochian Orthodox Church, 81st Street and Ridge Boulevard.

Heffernan, along with Kevin Sweeney, Kiernan Hamilton, Bernard Smith, Anthony Marino, Colleen Martin-O’Donnell, Samantha Caiati, Abby Jones, Juliette Pannone and special guest Connor Mayrose, played to a packed house of enthusiastic attendees. The group was accompanied by a six-piece band.

“We want to thank Father Michael for having us back to our second home,” Heffernan told this paper. “We are fortunate enough after 14 and a half years to have two homes in Bay Ridge, and one of them is St. Mary’s and we love it here.”

St. Mary’s own Connor Mayrose receives a standing ovation for his performance of “Over the Rainbow.”

The group debuted three new singers including Pannone, who led the other women in well-received renditions of the Ad-Libs’ 1964 ballad, “The Boy from New York City” and the Chiffons’ 1966 hit, “Sweet Talkin’ Guy.” Also of note was Jones’ cover of Dusty Springfield’s “Son of a Preacher Man” and Martin-O’Donnell’s cover of Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain.”

The church’s pastor, the Rev. Michael Ellias, called the Rhapsody Players, St. Mary’s house band. “There’s no better way to start the new season than to have the Rhapsody Players in our house,” Ellias told this paper.

A special highlight of the evening was the performance of St. Mary’s own Connor Mayrose. Heffernan recalled the first time he heard Mayrose sing was at a street-naming ceremony for late community leader Tom Kane.

“This young man came out and sang ‘Smile,’ and it was so moving,” said Heffernan. “I was standing there with a group of people and we were just blown away. I left that place that day thinking, we have to bring him into this group and share him with everybody, because his talent is truly God-given.”

St. Mary’s pastor, the Very Rev. Michael Ellias, event organizer Daria Mayrose and Rhapsody Players’ leader John Heffernan.

Mayrose received the first standing ovation of the evening with his stunning rendition of “Over the Rainbow.” He also opened the second half of the show with an a cappella “Amazing Grace.”

Other highlights included Hamilton’s covers of “Guitar Man” and “Peaceful Easy Feelin’,” Heffernan’s “Since I Fell for You,” Sweeney’s “This Magic Moment” and Marino’s set closer, “Hang on Sloopy,” which had the crowd up and dancing.

The event was organized by church members Tommy and Daria Mayrose and the money raised from the concert was donated to St. Mary’s.

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