Save the date and help Haiti
Linda Armstrong | 4/12/2011, 5:26 p.m.
Everyone's seen the television coverage and the pictures of the devastation that has befallen the people of Haiti after the country was hit by a powerful earthquake. Those media images were fresh in the mind of Broadway actress and Tony Award-winner Adriane Lenox when she approached Lee Summers, the general manager and booker for the Triad Theater.
Lenox was interested at first in being part of Summers' Just a Piano series, which has been going on for four years. The series is an opportunity for singers to get up and perform with a piano or taped musical accompaniment. Summers recalled that Lenox was scheduled to be part of a new event at Just a Piano called Open Mic Night and she immediately suggested that this be used as an opportunity to raise money for the people of Haiti.
"She suggested we do this as a benefit for Haiti, and I'm 300 percent behind it," Summers said.
Summers shared that while at first the lineup of performers was three singers, it is now at 18, plus musicians. In addition to Lenox, other artists participating in this one-night-only event, will include Tony Award-winner Lillias White, currently starring on Broadway in "Fela!"; Tony Award-winner LaChanze, who distinguished herself on Broadway when she originated the role of Celie in "The Color Purple"; Tituss Burgess, who had the stage rocking when he starred as Nicely Nicely Johnson in "Guys and Dolls"; along with Kecia Lewis-Evans, Todd Hunter, Kevin Anthony, Kenny Willimas, Tyrick Wiltez Jones, Bobby Daye, Connie Pachl, Jim Conant, Ty Stephens, Trent Kendall, Lawrence Stallings, Dennis Stowe, Cary Gant, Ricky McDonald, Curtis Wiley and a few others. Singing songwriters at the mic on this occasion will include Crystal Joy, Joseph P. Murray and Tahraqa Patterson.
Summers recalled that once Lenox made the suggestion, the entire event took only two days to come together. "Everyone was watching it in the media. Your humanity just shakes with your desire to help. When this was thought of, it seemed spiritual. This is an opportunity that I can give back, that our community can give back in a quick way and lend a hand. This is where people of color from the theater industry can come together with one voice and say, 'We are here for you, Haiti, as well.'"
Discussing the types of songs to be performed, Summers stated, "Someone is singing 'He Ain't Heavy He's My Brother.' But everything will not be somber. To celebrate the joy of life, there will be Motown songs performed. Lenox, Kecia Lewis-Evans and LaChanze will be premiering a song from the show they're developing called 'Broadway Mamas.'"
Each performer is donating their time. Tickets are $10 per person and there is a one drink minimum. "Every cent of the money is going to the disaster victims through the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund and the American Red Cross. We're hoping people are generous. We only have 130 seats. With 22 people performing, we can only get paid for 108 seats and we hope that people will donate money beyond that to the victims in Haiti. A representative from the accounting firm of Janover LLC will be onsite to make sure that everything is accounted for.
The Triad Theater is located at 158 W 72nd Street between Broadway and Columbus. The evening will be hosted by Summers and motivational speaker Shaun Derik, with guest composer and arranger Zane Mark on piano at times. Just a Piano has been happening since 2006 and invites singers to bring accompanists, pre-recorded tracks, musical instruments or play as they sing on the stage at the Triad Theater.
Summers hopes that many will make reservations and be part of this very important fundraising event to help the people of Haiti. "We do need people to come out and support," Summer said. Make reservations at Triadnyc.com or call (212) 362-2590.