Jay Leno and the Bit Players team up to host charity event in Newport RI

NEWPORT – It was the start of a great professional relationship when Jay Leno arrived at the Firehouse Theater a few years ago for a surprise act.

“That’s sort of where the bridge started to be built,” said Frank Fusaro, artistic director of Bit Players, an award-winning local comedy troupe and theater regular.

Fusaro recently worked with Leno, a former late-night talk show host, to chain “5 Nights of Leno,” a sell-out series from December 19 to 23, presented in association with the information What’s Up Newp.

Leno took root in Newport in 2017, when he and his wife, Mavis, purchased four of the five condos at the Seafair Estate, located on Ocean Avenue. From comedic appearances to his involvement in the city’s luxury car scene, Leno seems to have embraced life in Newport.

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“It’s awesome,” Fusaro said of the working relationship between a small town comedy troupe and comedy heavyweight Leno.

Former late-night talk show host Jay Leno performs at the Firehouse Theater in Newport.

After his surprise performance at the Firehouse Theater in 2019, Leno “contacted me directly to organize a charity event… and we ended up doing it for a Newport firefighter who was battling cancer,” Fusaro explained.

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The event was held at the Jane Pickens Theater to accommodate a larger crowd, and it was a huge success, Fusaro said. He and Leno were predicting another similar event when the COVID-19 pandemic forced sweeping shutdowns across the country.

Leno reached out again recently, as restrictions eased, and kicked off the five-night series, Fusaro explained. “And I was like, ‘Jay, (at) your age?'” Fusaro joked.

Proceeds from the event will benefit the Newport Police Department Union.

Jay Leno plays a stand-up comedy at the Firehouse Theater in Newport.

“The police service as a form of municipal government is not involved. Rather, it is the Fraternal Order of Police of Newport, Lodge 8, which is the union for policing. There is a subtle difference between the police department and the FOP, ”Newport Police Lt. April Amaral said in an email to the Daily News when asked about the event.

Police Union President Newport Police Sgt. Scott Moody, expressed FOP’s appreciation for the donation in a prepared statement.

Moody said the union plans to use the funds “for the welfare” of all police officers in Newport, to improve training and upgrade equipment “and to further support the charitable causes to which the FOP contributes every year”.

“For example, in the past, the FOP has used its resources to purchase a state-of-the-art drone,” individual first aid kits for officers and gymnastics equipment for the department, Moody said in its statement. .

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In addition, each year the FOP supports various charitable causes such as an annual Christmas basket event, community policing events, local sports leagues and other deserving organizations, and provides charitable donations during the event. ‘unshaven’ event. “

“Jay is the one who chose the cause,” Fusaro said. “His plan was,” he said, “a little ironic but obviously serious: ‘Well, I have to make this an (event) for the police department, because I did something for the fire department. I have to balance the scales here in the municipal world.


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