Broadway stars come out to support The Actors Fund!
Linda Armstrong | 6/17/2021, 3:52 p.m.
We all know that Broadway is coming back, but in the here and now, members of the entertainment industry are suffering and have been for some time due to the pandemic. The Actors Fund is a vital organization that assist professionals in the business. This national human services organization fosters stability and resiliency and provides a safety net for performing arts and entertainment professionals over their lifespan. The Fund serves everyone in film, theater, television, music, opera, radio and dance with programs including social services and emergency financial assistance, health care and insurance counseling, housing, and secondary employment and training services. Well, this past Sunday Jeffrey Richards had the idea to do a special fundraiser for The Actors Fund and he got the participation of a great many theater icons. He called the program “Show of Titles” and it featured the title songs for musical that spanned over nine decades. It was absolutely fabulous and you still have the opportunity to view it on Stellar until June 17. There is more information on Broadwaysbestshows.com.
Who wouldn’t want to hear great Broadway songs performed by some of the very best Broadway has to offer? I know I want it and needed it badly. Hosted by John Leguizamo, the program was absolutely uplifting. The performances, some done in people’s home, some done outside and even off the highway, were delightful to experience.
As you watch the original Broadway show playbills pass on the screen you start to anticipate what you are about to experience. The great, Tony Award winning, Patti Lupone gets the ball rolling from her home as she sings “Anything Goes”, accompanied by some members of Broadway Inspirational Voices—Jason Burrow; Casey Erin Clark; Danielle Lee Greaves; Kimberly Jajuan; Darryl Jordan; Jesse Nager, Susan O’Dea and Martin Sola. Lupone’s voice was perfect and both she and the Broadway Inspirational Voices members had fun with the song.
Another legendary actress and Tony Award winner, the one and only Leslie Uggams was next and was charming as she sang “Hallelujah Baby” with power and passion. Her voice was absolutely stunning and she was accompanied—Darius Barnes and Jovan Dansberry and some funky special effects.
Gavin Creel and Will Swenson were hilarious as they performed “Hair”. They had a great time as they wore several wigs of long hair and hippy attire, getting into the theme of the moment. Debbie Allen recalls starring in “Sweet Charity” and introduces her co-star, Michael Rupert, who performed the title song. Brian Stokes Mitchell singing from his apartment window, which he leaned out of, was brilliant as his gorgeous, baritone was heard singing, “Man of La Mancha”. Accompanied by his sidekick Sancho, humorously singing out of another window was Ernie Sabella. It was a triumphant song!
John Kander introduced Santino Fontana singing “The Happy Time”. Fontana performed with great joy, it was beautiful! Tony Award winner Norm Lewis and David Alan Grier teamed up and had a fantastic time singing the title song to “Guys And Dolls”. As their bodies are still, a split screen shoes tap dancing legs, very funny effect! Laura Osnes performed “The Sound of Music” with a calm beauty. Darren Criss adorably sang “Fade Out—Fade In.” What a treat it was to experience Kelsey Grammar belting out “Hello Dolly!” Ben Stiller and Richard Thomas took part in introducing “No Strings” performed by Phillipa Soo and Steven Pasquale. Patrick Wilson was absolutely having a rip-roaring good time performing, “Oklahoma!” Adam Guettel introduced Kelli O’Hara and she was stunning in her delivery of “Light In The Piazza.
Humor was a key, amusing part of Annaleigh Ashford’s performance of “She Loves Me.”
Tony Goldwyn introduced Lea Salonga and she was extraordinary in her performance of “Promises, Promises.” Dame Edna Everage added her own type of humor while performing “Anyone Can Whistle.” Len Cariou, Rob McClure and Aaron Tveit did a marvelous tribute to a great lady of the musical stage—Angela Lansbury as they took the music from “Mame” and changed the words to highlight the accomplishments of this legendary thespian. The beautiful tribute also included production shots from her musicals—“The Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” and “Mame”.
Songwriter Charles Strouse introduced Kerry Butler who performed a lovely version of “Golden Boy.” “On A Clear Day You Can See Forever” was given a delicate, unforgettable delivery by Jessie Mueller. It was exhiliarating to witness! Blair Underwood, who played “Purlie Victorious” had the distinctive pleasure of introducing the lead actress who performed the title song—Melba Moore. As she finessed her way through the number, original production photos of her were displayed. She’s still got it! Ben Stiller introduced Eva Noblezada who beautifully sang “Oh, Lady Be Good!” Charles Strouse spoke of “Dance A Little Closer” and introduced the fabulous, Tony Award winner, Glen Close to perform it. She was exceptional! Florian Zeller introduced Isabelle Huppert who performed, “Can Can” and had a lot of fun with it.
Surrounded by nature, Tony Award winner Vanessa Williams, shared her lovely voice as she sang, “Dear World.” Her delivery was elating and exciting! John Kander introduced Stephanie J. Block, who gave an entertaining and sexy performance of “Cabaret.” She has quite a powerful instrument. Jake Gyllenhaal was absolutely mesmerizing with his performance of “Camelot.”
The show ends with a rousing number of “There’s No Business Like Show Business” and it featured cameo from countless greats including Phylicia Rashad; Chita Rivera; BD Wong, John Lithgow, Candace Bergen, Danny Burstein, Bryan Cranston and Lindsay Mendez.
The incredible fundraiser was directed by Lonny Price and had music Direction/supervision by Jason Howland. Showing on Stellar, tickets are $39. It is truly for an outstanding charity. Please help The Actors Fund. For more information go to www.ActorsFund.org or Broadwaysbestshows.com.