Batboy, the play, opened in the Bronx last night at Hostos Community College. The audience was so full of emotion withthe performance of the great talent that the fans just didn’t want the show to end. There was a lot of laughter and a lot of tears as the show took you in a time capsule, which to me represented a glorious time. After the show all I heard was people asking the same question. Who is Layla and where did this mystery woman come from?
Some people even thought that she was the “reincarnation” of Whitney Houston and Natalie Cole wrapped into one. The person that discovered her and insisted that I put her in the show was my producer Steve Vaccaro.
I asked Steve to give me his true take on this wonderful talent known as Layla Dionne.
Story by Steve Vaccaro
With the Yankees out of the playoffs and BATBOY having been performed at the Argyle Theatre on Long Island on October 17thand Hostos Community College October 19th, there is a star that is beginning to shine brighter on the theatrical stage.
Layla Dionne has been a singer/songwriter/actress for many years. Her musical journey started in upstate New York then to the Mid-west before landing in the Big Apple in 2002. Although her amazing voice and sound has warmed the hearts of many overthe years, her powerful vocals made its BATBOY debut this week. BATBOY, which is the story of Ray Negron’s life with the New York Yankees from 1973-1979, will be performed at the Tilles Center at CW Post this Tuesday October 23rd at 7:30pm. The first BATBOY show at the Argyle theatre in Babylon Village was sold out. Ray Negron monologues throughout the production supported by various vignettes that bring the audience back to the “Bronx Zoo” Days highlighting his “behind the scenes” relationships with George Steinbrenner, Thurman Munson, Reggie Jackson, Billy Martin, Mickey Rivers, Roy White and Lou Piniella. Throughout this magical ride, great musical talent such as Ms. Dionne, is being showcased.
“When I first saw Layla…… I knew I had the character of my mother. I said to myself, finally we found the impact singer that can play the part”, Negron excitedly stated. Without prompting from this writer, Negron added, “When you first see her and hear her you wonder why she is not on the same plateau of Whitney Houston and Natalie Cole. She is that good.” Not only is she a fabulous singer but as an actress playing Ray’s mom, she brings tears to his eyes and standing ovations by the audience at both BATBOY performances.
Ms. Dionne, who just recently performed with her band at Rockwood Music Hall (Stage 2) in NYC was asked how she felt when being asked to join the cast of BATBOY and play Ray Negron’s Mom. “I was elated!!! I was a little scared because it is a very important part of his story,” Ms. Dionne stated. She emphatically went on to say, “It is an absolute honor!!! I thank Ray and Steve Vaccaro (Producer) for having the faith in me for this role. I know I need to nail this role.”
Ms. Dionne shared that the performers that she looked up to when she was younger and still today “are Celine Dion, Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston. Those women are unbelievable and have influenced my career greatly.” Ms. Dionne will be performing several incredible songs during each production with many talented musicians, however, she had special words for Richie Cannata Saxophonist legend who will play the part of Bobby Murcer and Dave Revels, former singer of The Drifters, who will be playing the role of Ray Negron’s father.
“First of all Richie Cannata is really great. He is so talented and hospitable. He is a legend and is so very easy going,” she states. When discussing Dave Revels, she emphatically reveals,” He is so very talented and a hard working man. He is very sweet and genuine. I am honored to be playing opposite him in Batboy.”
As you can see, BATBOY is not just another production about baseball. It is an experience that will make you laugh, make you cry and make you sing to the LIVE music from some of music’s legendary performers. However, for one mid-western girl, her star will be shining so bright that she may reach that plateau Ray Negron was talking about. Just like The Boss gave Ray Negron a chance over 40 years ago, Ray Negron is giving Layla Dionne a chance of a lifetime. A chance you do not want to miss!
Tickets available for BATBOY Tuesday October 23rd 7:30pm at the Tilles Center box office #516-299-3100 or online at tillescenter.org
Steve Vaccaro is the Producer of BATBOY , Nationally syndicated Radio host and psychologist