YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The cabaret duo of Mary Jo Maluso and Rick Blackson saw an increase in their schedule of live performances in 2022.
The act was booked at special occasions and private parties. Country clubs and corporations sought the duo’s talents for holiday themed entertainment. Blackson even rearranged several songs from the musical “Jersey Boys” to satisfy a client’s request for a wedding rehearsal dinner.
The couple was saddened at the passing last year of their friend, Richard “Chook” Alberini Jr. Alberini’s parents, the late Richard and Gilda Alberini, invited the pair to initiate their cabaret series at Alberini’s Down Under in the family’s former restaurant in Niles.
Once again, the duo was excited to be invited by the DoubleTree Hotel to provide music for Light-up Night in downtown Youngstown. That invitation has been extended to the event for 2023.
Maluso and Blackson have been bringing New York-style entertainment to the Mahoning Valley and points elsewhere for more than three decades.
With Maluso on vocals and Blackson on piano, the cabaret duo formalized their cabaret partnership in 1990 when they launched Beyond Broadway Entertainment.
Their fast-paced professionalism landed them on stage with performers such as the Lawrence Welk Entertainment Group, The Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra and numerous others. They’ve played Cleveland’s Ritz Carlton, Washington, D.C.’s Kennedy Center and Las Vegas.
Before teaming with Blackson, Maluso enjoyed a career as television show hostess and equity actress in various musicals. She opened as a featured soloist for stars such as Tony Bennett, Paul Anka and Jim Nabors.
She began her long career as a voice-over artist and studio vocalist while in her teens.
Blackson is a musical director, actor, songwriter, arranger and television host. He maintains a large clientele of private piano and voice students. In addition, he has written and produced theme songs that he and Maluso have recorded for numerous clients.
Blackson and Maluso have been featured in local and regional TV commercials as voiceover actors.
Blackson is now back to mostly in-person piano and vocal teaching although he maintains Facetime students as well. He continues to write special songs for people who want a unique and special gift to give to a family member or friend.
His 35-year association with Easy Street Productions began as the theater troupe’s first music director. In December, he was the keyboardist for Easy Street’s “Miracle On Easy Street,” which returned to the stage after a two-year hiatus prompted by the pandemic.
Pictured at top: Mary Jo Maluso and Rick Blackson bring New York-style entertainment to the Mahoning Valley.