At 63, this voice and piano teacher from Rockville Centre defines uniqueness. Back in May, he stepped foot into the waiting room of Trylon Vet Care in Forest Hills, but not with pets needing treatment. Rather, he offered his singing, acting, and dancing skills, and transformed a visit into a production called “Frank’s Waiting! WFTD Radio.”
Scafuri is perhaps the sole musical comedy producer of doctor’s office videos.
“I want to bring some joy and music into the lives of people today,” he said. “I am extending an open invitation to doctors who wish to contact me, so I can produce a three-minute video in a light patient waiting room. It is entertainment to patients and won’t disturb the mannerisms of the office. In exchange, doctors will receive free advertising.”
His typical medical visit plays out with Scafuri entering hunched over a walker and wearing a tux and a bowtie under an overcoat; he takes his time sitting. Then he strikes up a conversation with a patient.
Eventually Scafuri says, “I get through my day. Do you know how?” He then jumps out of his seat, throws off his overcoat, places his walker aside, and bursts into a song such as “I Got Rhythm.”
Scafuri cherishes his musical origins, which he attributes to being raised in a typical Italian household in Lynbrook.
“On Sundays, we would go to church, then my parents would spin records of Italian and popular singers such as Al Jolson, Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, and Jimmy Roselli,” he said. “At 3 p.m., we would have our meatball and sausage feast.”
Jerry Lewis telethons were another inspiration. “I would think, 'someday I want to be a background singer on one of these TV shows,'” Scafuri recalls. “Then I thought, ‘why don’t I become the singer?’”
In high school, he met his first vocal teacher, Jane Robbin Longo, and also drew inspiration from his chorus music director, George Breakwell. He pumped gas until passing the audition for Juilliard at age 17, where he pursued a voice major and a piano minor and graduated in 1973.
“NYC was my campus. I got my first job as a tenor soloist in a Presbyterian church near Hotel Ansonia,” he said. “I would earn $20 and was proud.”
At St. Helen’s Roman Catholic Church in Howard Beach, he worked as a music director, organist and choir director, and then landed positions in Lynbrook and Glen Cove churches.
A pivotal moment came in 1980 when Scafuri sang at a country club and was discovered by pianist Gary Lawrence, who praised his voice for its qualities reminiscent of a 1930s crooner. Lawrence formed a Big Band and applied a twist on modern favorites such as “Stayin’ Alive” and “Feelings” to resemble the 1930s.
“I was proud to become the singer and co-leader of the band, Gary Lawrence and the Sizzling Syncopators,” said Scafuri. “We performed at Manhattan’s Red Blazer Too.”
Watch some of Scafuri's recent waiting room performances on Youtube by searching “Frank's Waiting.”