Who: Friends, family, and colleagues of Broadway actor Nick Cordero
What: Livestreamed tribute to Nick Cordero
Where: Broadway on Demand
When: Sunday, September 6, free, 7:00
Why: The Broadway community has been hit hard by the Covid-19 crisis, from the shuttering of theaters to such mainstays as Brian Stokes Mitchell, Sara Bareilles, Aaron Tveit, Laura Bell Bundy, John Benjamin Hickey, Bryan Cranston, Danny Burstein and Rebecca Luker, and Tony Shalhoub and Brooke Adams contracting the virus. It has also claimed the lives of playwright Terrence McNally, beloved character actor Mark Blum, and, most notably, Tony-nominated Canadian star Nick Cordero, who first had to have one of his legs amputated, then passed away on July 5 at the age of forty-one, leaving behind his wife, Amanda Kloots, and their one-year-old son, Elvis. On September 6 at 7:00, Broadway on Demand is hosting a memorial tribute to Cordero, featuring friends, family, and cast members from all of his shows, including A Bronx Tale, Bullets over Broadway, Rock of Ages, The Toxic Avenger, and Waitress. It’s free to tune in, but the audience is encouraged to text CORDERO to 41444 to donate to Save the Music, a nonprofit that “helps students, schools, and communities reach their full potential through the power of making music.”
Who: Teal Wicks, Kate Baldwin, Brandon Victor Dixon, Eva Noblezada
What: Live concerts to be seen in person and online, presented by Broadway Relief Project
Where: Open Jar Studios, 1601 Broadway between Forty-Eighth & Forty-Ninth Sts., eleventh floor
When: September 4-11 (more to come), $5 - $90, 8:00
Why: Just as many schools are starting up again in a hybrid format, a mix of in-person and virtual learning, Open Jar Studios is doing the same with concerts. The Broadway Relief Project kicked off August 21 with a concert by Joshua Henry at the Theater District venue, where a fully masked crowd of forty-eight (in a space that can hold up to three hundred) watched from individual seats separated by plexiglass, with a specially designed air system and no one within twenty feet of the band; you can also join in via livestream here. That was followed August 22 by Jay Armstrong Johnson and August 30 by Vinny Pastore’s Gangster Squad; each performer chooses what charity they want proceeds to go to. “It’s been remarkable to be able to bring a live audience together for the first time in over five months and to see the emotional reception the artists are receiving,” Open Jar Studios owner Jeff Whiting said in a statement. “The cooperation with the city and these Broadway artists has been key to the development of this socially distant space, and it’s been a wonderful challenge to find safe ways to get audiences together to enjoy these Broadway stars.”
Next up is Teal Wicks (Wicked, The Cher Show) on September 4 ($35-$50), benefiting One Tree Planted, followed by Tony nominee Kate Baldwin (Big Fish, Hello, Dolly!) on September 5 ($35-$50), benefiting Active Minds; Tony, Emmy, and Grammy nominee Brandon Victor Dixon (Hamilton, Shuffle Along) on September 6 ($70-$90), benefiting the WeAre Foundation; and two-time Tony nominee and Grammy winner Eva Noblezada (Miss Saigon, Hadestown) on September 11 ($70-$90, charity TBA). Keep watching this space for more announcements.
Who: Christine Andreas, Sarah Uriarte Berry, Christina Bianco, Chuck Cooper, Robert Cuccioli, Marc De la Cruz, George Dvorsky, Anita Gillette, Jason Graae, Ann Harada, Leah Hocking, Richard Jay-Alexander, Judy Kaye, Jeff Keller, Eddie Korbich, Michael McCormick, N’Kenge, Barry Pearl, Gabriella Pizzolo, Stephanie Pope, Faith Prince, Courtney Reed, T. Oliver Reid, Steve Rosen, Jennifer Sanchez, Analise Scarpaci, Tony Sheldon, Ryan Silverman, Paulo Szot, Ben Vereen
What: Benefit for the Actors Fund, hosted by Theater Pizzazz
Where: Metropolitan Zoom
When: Monday, August 31, $20, 7:00
Why: On August 31 at 7:00, Sandi Durell’s Theater Pizzazz, an entertainment website dedicated to live music and theater, is presenting the world premiere of the video “The Theatre Will Survive,” a song created during the pandemic to celebrate the resiliency of the industry. The lyrics are by Michael Colby, with music and orchestrations by Ned Paul Ginsburg. The cast features such award winners and favorites as Chuck Cooper, Anita Gillette, Judy Kaye, Stephanie Pope, Faith Prince, Courtney Reed, Paulo Szot, and Ben Vereen. The evening will include a live chat with many of the participants; all proceeds benefit the Actors Fund’s Covid-19 Emergency Relief Fund.
Who: Phillipa Soo, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Jasmine Cephas Jones, Christopher Jackson, Jonathan Groff, Brian d’Arcy James, Rory O’Malley, Andrew Rannells, Neil Haskell, Andrew Chappelle, Thayne Jasperson, Morgan Marcell, Javier Muñoz, Seth Stewart, Betsy Struxness, Sasha Hutchings
What: Livestreamed fundraisers with behind-the-scenes look at Hamilton, trivia, games, prizes, original content, and more
Where: Looped Live
When: Saturday, August 1, $10.75, 1:00; Sunday, August 9, 1:00; Saturday, August 15, 7:00
Why: Even with Broadway shut down, Hamilton continues to have an impact on theater and the world at large, particularly through criticism of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s treatment of slavery in the show, particularly in conjunction with the filmed version now streaming on Disney+. In the meantime, original cast members of the musical have organized Ham4Change, three online presentations to raise money for When We All Vote, LEAP (Law Enforcement Accountability Project), BEAM (Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective), Until Freedom, Color of Change, Dance4Hope, Know Your Rights Camp, BAI (Black AIDS Institute), and the African American Policy Forum. The program, featuring trivia, games, prizes, original content, and more, begins August 1 with Hamilton originals Phillipa Soo, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Jasmine Cephas Jones, Christopher Jackson, and Jonathan Groff and special guests Brian d’Arcy James, Rory O’Malley, Andrew Rannells, Neil Haskell, Andrew Chappelle, Thayne Jasperson, Morgan Marcell, Javier Muñoz, Seth Stewart, and Betsy Struxness, hosted by Sasha Hutchings. Tickets are $10.75; VIP packages include Virtual Meet & Greets with many of the stars ($75) and Digital Fan Experiences with Groff, Muñoz, and Struxness ($1,000 each). The series continues August 9 at 1:00 and August 15 at 7:00; participants have yet to be announced.
Who: Broadway performers and celebrity guests Jane Krakowski, Nathan Lane, Beth Leavel, Judith Light, Christopher Sieber, Wesley Taylor, more TBA
What: Broadway Bares charity event
Where: Broadway Cares, YouTube, other outlets
When: Saturday, August 1, free, 9:30
Why: Since 1992, theater actors and special celebrity guests have been taking it off for charity in the ever-popular Broadway Bares gala, stripteasing to raise money for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. From an inaugural take of eight grand that first year, the event raised more than two million dollars in 2019. Founded by Jerry Mitchell, who directed the 1992 production with the cast of The Will Rogers Follies at Splash bar, the show goes online this year, offering viewers prime seating to zoom in and enjoy the festivities, which will include new, socially distanced dances as well as past highlights. “We’re so excited to bring the heat of Broadway Bares to screens around the world for the first time with Broadway Bares: Zoom In,” Tony winner Mitchell (Kinky Boots, Hairspray, The Full Monty) said in a statement. “This year’s performers have gone full-out in both their show-stopping dance moves and desire to make a difference. You’ve got to Zoom In because it’s sure to make your laptop tingle and your cell phone vibrate!” You can watch for free via multiple online sites, but donations are strongly encouraged, with proceeds helping those affected by HIV/AIDS, Covid-19, and other critical illnesses in addition to organizations focusing on social justice and anti-racism. The first round of celebrity stars have been announced, and it’s pretty cool: Jane Krakowski, Nathan Lane, Beth Leavel, Judith Light, Christopher Sieber, and Wesley Taylor, with more to come.
Who: Kirby Ward, Norm Lewis, Faith Prince, Christian Hoff, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Stephen Schwartz, Megan McGinnis, Lauren Patten, Aaron Lazar
What: Zoom interviews with theater professionals
Where: Rubicon Theatre Zoom
When: Fridays and Mondays through August 7, $20 per session, 2:00
Why: During the pandemic, California-based Rubicon has been hosting “Inside the Artist’s Process,” livestreamed interview sessions with major theater professionals, from actors and writers to directors and choreographers. Every Monday and Friday at 2:00, Rubicon education and outreach director Kirby Ward speaks with the guest for a half hour, followed by a thirty-minute Q&A session with students from the Musical Theatre Production Workshop, Fearless Shakespeare, and Stinky Feet program who are enrolled in the summer-camp-like initiative. The series continues with Norm Lewis (Porgy and Bess, Dessa Rose) on July 13, Faith Prince (A Catered Affair, Guys and Dolls) on July 17, Christian Hoff (The Who’s Tommy, Jersey Boys) on July 20, Brian Stokes Mitchell (Ragtime, Kiss Me Kate) on July 24, composer and lyricist Stephen Schwartz (Godspell, Wicked) on July 27, married couple Megan McGinnis (Little Women, Daddy Long Legs) and Adam Halpin (Dear Evan Hansen, Daddy Long Legs) on July 31, Lauren Patten (Jagged Little Pill, The Wolves) on August 3, and Aaron Lazaar (The Last Ship, Les Misérables) and Ben Lipitz (The Lion King) on August 7. You should also check out the free “Connections” hosted by board member Brett Molotsky, who has chatted with Rubicon cofounder and producing artistic director Karyl Lynn Burns, Ward, and Patten, in addition to the troupe’s “Crossing the Rubicon,” Nibroc Trilogy, and “Rubicon Experience” podcast. All proceeds go to Rubicon's education and outreach fund.
Who: Amber Iman, Danielle Brooks, Alia Jones-Harvey, Audra McDonald, Lillias White, Pilin Anice, Jamila Souffrant, Rashad V. Chambers, Lelund Durond, DJ Cocoa
What: All-day virtual conference presented by Black Women on Broadway
Where: Online (information given after registration)
When: Monday, June 29, free with advance RSVP, noon - 10:00 pm
Why: On June 19, I watched the inaugural Antonyo Awards, and it was an eye-opening experience. Sponsored by Broadway Black, the evening celebrated the best of the Black theater community, from actors, writers, and directors to composers, designers, and special honorees. I’ve seen a lot of awards shows, but never one quite like this one, which was by, about, and for the Black community. The presenters and winners made speeches that they probably couldn’t do at the Tonys, the Obies, or the Drama Desk Awards; accepting his Lifetime Achievement Award, Chuck Cooper said, “I am honored, and more than a bit surprised, by this. At this point in my life, it feels like my major achievement was to survive long enough to reach this age being a Black man in America.”
On June 29, Black Women on Broadway, an organization founded by Amber Iman, Jocelyn Bioh, and Danielle Brooks, is hosting the all-day virtual conference “Black Women in Theatre Appreciation Day,” consisting of more than ten hours of panel discussions, interviews, and a closing dance party, chosen through a poll of thirty artists who were asked, “What do you need?” The lineup features “Meditation & Movement” with Pilin Anice at noon, “Money Talks!” with Jamila Souffrant at 1:15, “Producing” with Alia Jones-Harvey and Rashad V. Chambers at 2:30, “Mastering the Art of the Self-Tape” with Lelund Durond at 3:45, “Girl Talk on Zoom” with Amber Iman at 5:00, “The Main Event” with Lillias White and Audra McDonald at 6:30, and “Ladies Night: Let’s Dance!” with DJ Cocoa at 8:00, with Brooks serving as conference moderator.