Mixed Nuts Spoofs Celebrities to Raise Money for Charities

By Gale A. Carroccia

Wed, Jan 02 08

If it's 9 a.m. on a weekday morning, the cast of Mixed Nuts, an interactive cabaret comedy group, is working at normal jobs, but if it is 9 p.m. on a weekend night, their creative sides kick in and the cast is transformed into well-known celebrities. Mixed Nuts' cast performs spoofs about these celebrities in front of audiences that actively participate in the show while competing to win unique prizes.

"Some of the cast members and myself first performed with Ocean State Follies, doing spoofs about politicians, but we grew tired of politics, and decided to do spoofs about celebrities instead," says creator and owner of Mixed Nuts, Kevin Sullivan.

"The show premiered at Luigi's restaurant in 2001, and Ralph and Luigi Battista have been instrumental to the show.

Most recently Mixed Nuts has been performing their holiday show at Luigi's, opening by interacting with the audience, singing Christmas carols and performing a spoof about the misfit toys.

The cast of Mixed Nuts is comprised of six multi-talented performers.

Kevin Sullivan of Cranston, a father of two daughters and one son, Kayley, Jessica, and Joseph, spends his days working full-time as an art director of Rhode Island Novelty in Cumberland, but when weekends roll around he is the master of ceremonies for Mixed Nuts. He also acts as Julia Childs, Elvis Presley, Clay Aiken and several other celebrities.

Kim Frenze of Johnston, also a Mixed Nuts creator and owner, is an administrative assistant at Johnson and Wales University in Providence. She embodies crowd-pleasing characters including Anna Maria, an Italian opera singer, Britney Spears and Christmas reindeer.

Greg Johnson of Cranston works as a director of bands at the Freetown-Lakeville Middle Schools, and G.R. Austin Intermediate School in Lakeville, Mass. Greg transforms himself into Chef Emeril Lagasse and gets the audience to open up as he does a spoof of television personality Dr. Phil.

Patti Nolan of North Providence is an administrative assistant at Rhode Island College. She parodies Cher and also acts as a misfit toy at Christmas time. Kathy Donahue of Uxbridge, Mass. works as a client reimbursement specialist for Genzyme Genetics by day and parodies several different celebrities by night.

The sixth member of Mixed Nuts is Katie Estrella of East Providence. She teaches private lessons in voice, piano and the saxophone and serves as the group's musical director. During performances she plays the keyboard with a big smile and gets the audience to jump out of their seats and start dancing.

The cast of Mixed Nuts constantly has their eyes and ears tuned into celebrity headlines, as their goal is to have refreshing and innovative material for their audiences to enjoy. In 2008 Mixed Nuts plans to add a Sopranos skit and their Red Sox medley changes from season to season.

Mixed Nuts not only make people laugh, they also raise money for numerous worthy causes. They annually host a popular fundraiser at Christmas time called "Nuts for Food". Audience members are encouraged to bring a non-perishable food item or a check made out to the Rhode Island Food Bank to the show, and are then eligible to win prizes during the show. All donations go directly to the Rhode Island Food Bank, and through the years Mixed Nuts has collected thousands of pounds of food.

One prize offered during the show is "The RIght to Crow," a book written by Roberta Mudge Humble, that details Rhode Island's "firsts, bests, and uniques." Mixed Nuts also sells the book after its shows to benefit the historical Westerly Armory restoration.

Kevin Sullivan and Mixed Nuts have hosted other fundraisers, including the Cranston Lions' annual charity roast. They have roasted former Cranston Mayor Stephen Laffey, retired State Police Colonel Stephen Pare and WPRI television anchorwoman Karen Adams.

Sullivan will be hosting the American Lung Association of Rhode Island's annual comedy show, "Laugh Your Lungs Off" on Feb. 9. He will be performing his "Wild Card Comedy" - another of his creative outlets. Wild Card Comedy is standup comedy and Sullivan will be joined by partners Ace Aceto and Mary Ellen Rinaldi. This year's event will take place at the Crowne Plaza in Warwick. For more information, visit www.lungri.org.

"All of our funniest moments that we have had with the show involve an audience member, and they are amazed at how many people we remember through the years and where they were even sitting in the audience" said Sullivan.

More information about Mixed Nuts is available at www.mixednutscabaret.com.

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