If you go
What: Physician’s Talent Show, benefiting the Neighborhood Health Clinic and music scholarships for Steinway Piano Gallery
When: Cocktail and hors d’oeuvres reception with silent auction at 6:30; talent show begins at 7:30
Where: Sugden Community Theatre in Naples
Information: (239) 498-9884
NAPLES — You may know your doctor’s bedside manner.
But can you also claim to know his song-and-dance routine?
At 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, you’ll have a chance to do that very thing. That’s when the sixth annual Physician’s Talent Show returns to Naples, a one-night-only performance that will give 19 local docs a chance to strut their non-medical stuff on the stage of the Sugden Community Theatre in Naples.
There will be music. There will be magic.
And it all benefits a very good cause: Proceeds from sales of the $75 tickets supports Naples’ not-for-profit Neighborhood Health Clinic, which provides medical services for low-income working Collier County adults, as well as scholarships for students at the Steinway Piano Gallery.
Dr. Millard Brooks, an anesthesiologist with Collier Anesthesia, will present his perennially popular “Billy Ray, the Trailer Trash Magician” character, just as he has done for the past six shows. Billy Ray is not dumb, Brooks explains, not exactly. He’s just a little bit different — and a lot sarcastic.
“I’ve gotten such a great response with him,” Brooks says. “It’s basically comedy magic.”
The character hails from the “piney woods of Southeast Texas,” Brooks says, “where teeth are optional.”
It’s a locale that’s not far from where the good doctor was himself raised, and asked how Billy Ray decided to pursue magic as a profession, Brooks deadpans that it was prompted by a revelation from Billy Ray’s sister: She told him she was getting $50 a trick.
“I will take it to the edge,” Brooks says of his comedy.
What’s not unnecessary is explaining how much fun the show is each year for the doctors. For the physicians, it’s a chance to indulge their creative sides, which may not happen during the course of a regular workday. All have something they enjoy doing that’s outside their normal work, Brooks explains — whether it’s pulling rabbits out of hats or playing golf.
Brooks does not play golf.
“It gives me a chance to be on the stage and do what I really enjoy doing,” Brooks says.
“And they keep wanting me to come back, so I do and I wished I had more opportunities to do it.”
He is the only magician in the show. The majority of the performers are musicians, such as Dr. Martin Cohn, a sleep specialist with the Sleep Disorder Center of Southwest Florida, and Dr. Corey Howard, an internist who focuses primarily on health and fitness.
Cohn has a longtime affection for the clarinet; he grew up in Chicago during the Big Band Era, and as early as age 10, he begged his parents to let him learn.
“The ‘licorice stick’ just struck me as a neat instrument,” Cohn recalled.
Howard plays the tenor sax, and when not practicing medicine, he plays in the rather dubiously named band “Throat Culture.”
Like Cohn, he has a lasting love of music; he actually began his education as a music major in college, and played in New York City in a band with vocalist and former Miss America Vanessa Williams. Medicine eventually won out over music, but he never forgot his first love, and now he likes to play the saxophone for fun and for his family.
The annual talent show benefits the clinic and scholarships, but “it’s also an opportunity to show my kids” what he can do., he says. The plan may be working: He is delighted to report that his son recently abandoned the trumpet in favor of the tenor sax.
Cohn, for his part, will perform in a traditional Jewish music quartet called the Naples Klezmer Revival Band. Joining him will be his fellow band mates Stu Warshauer on violin, Arnold Saslavsky on drums and Jane Galler on guitar. Galler also is the band’s vocalist. The band will play three songs, including Der Heyser Bulgar, which means “The Hot Bulgar Dance.”
The music is danceable, Cohn explained, adding, “We’re going to get the crowd on its feet.”
Cohn isn’t sure why so many doctors seem to have secret inner artists. Perhaps it’s something in the way their brains are wired, he suggests. But he does know it’s rewarding to find an outlet for his passion. It’s also nice to have the applause, he concedes, and he knows most audience members appreciate his efforts.
“People seem to appreciate it, and that’s a good feeling. I don’t get that in medicine. No, I’m just joking,” he says with a laugh.