Thursday, January 31, 2013

Newtown Benefit Concert - Entry #28

Monday, January 28th was a magical night.  A benefit concert entitled, From Broadway with Love, featuring A-list Broadway performers backed by a 42 piece on-stage orchestra was held for Newtown families, first responders, and members of the community.   It was as if Rodgers and Hart’s Babes in Arms or a Judy Garland/Mickey Rooney “Let’s put on a show” movie had come to life.  Broadway stars, producers, writers, and directors all pitched in, volunteering their talents to create a special moment in time.  One of the producers guesstimated the production would have cost over one million dollars if expenses and charges were not waived.
Myself and Michael Cerveris (revival of Evita and the TV series Fringe).

Held at the ornate, 2,200 seat Palace Theater in Waterbury, CT the sold-out event included such Broadway luminaries as Tony winners Brian Stokes Mitchell and Christine Ebersole, Michael Cerveris (fresh from the revival of Evita), Philip Boykin (the revival of Porgy and Bess), and Robin de Jesus (In the Heights).  There were also performances by Mickey Dolenez (of The Monkees), Nikki Blonsky (the Hairspray movie), members of the national tour of Sister Act, composers Stephen Schwartz, Frank Wildhorn and Marc Shaiman, and even The Muppets.  According to Van Dean, Broadway producer and one of the organizers of the benefit, the concert was a way for the Broadway community to demonstrate its support to the Newtown residents.

Brian Stokes Mitchell
For the three Sundays before the event I was able to interview participants on my weekly show music radio program, On Broadway.  As a member of “the press” I was also invited to attend the event.  During the weeks leading up to the benefit I became acquainted with a number of the creative individuals and public relations specialists working feverishly to make this one unforgettable evening.  They were very gracious with their time and availability, both before and at the concert.  For example, during the early afternoon dress rehearsal the day of the benefit they gave me access to a number of the Broadway performers.  The sound bites I digitally recorded during my interviews with the actors will be inserted among the music I play on one of my upcoming shows. 

Afterwards, email thank you’s ricocheted back and forth.  The timeliness and immediacy dictated this route.  But I also followed up with a written note to a number of the people that worked with me.  In a sense, the correspondence I mailed represented one of the main goals of this Writing Project, which I stated in my first blog entry back on May 5, 2012.  I wrote this “would be a way to connect with individuals in a more personalized manner.”  Because of the nature of the benefit, the dedication of the hundreds of volunteers, both in front and behind the scenes, and the graciousness of the professionals that I worked with I wanted to do a bit more then a quick email thank you.  I wanted to take the time to express my feelings and convey my thoughts the old-fashioned way--with the written word.

Monday, January 7, 2013

New Year's Eve - Entry #27

New Year’s Eve—a time for celebration and resolutions.  I’m not really big on both.  The only resolution I half-heartedly think about is more exercise, but that never happens on a consistent basis.  Going out on New Year’s is usually an early dinner and a movie with friends.  My wife and I just got tired of allowing establishments the excuse of it being New Year’s Eve to charge shameful sums for a night out.  I remember years ago when we went to a New York bar, paid an outrageous entry fee, and were simply given a flimsy paper party hat, a low cost metallic noisemaker, and two drink coupons.  That was it.  Happy New Year.  It was the last night we allowed ourselves to be ripped off on New Year’s.

This year we were getting together with four other neighborhood couples at a friend’s house for dinner.  The gathering was small, mellow, and enjoyable.  We talked.  We laughed.  We were engaged, playfully arguing with each other, dissecting points and counterpoints as well as bringing up the frivolous and trivial (I admit I was the one spouting Twilight Zone minutiae in honor of the SyFy channel’s TZ weekend marathon).   

So, my first series of correspondence this month went to everyone that attended the soiree.  I wanted my friends to know how delightful it was to be together and be able to prattle away the night.  Nothing forced.  Just catching up, joking, dining on a scrumptious meal, and discussing real issues and concerns.  I wrote how we have very few opportunities to gather socially.  At this stage of our lives we are all so constantly busy, running from here to there, trying to catch up with what life throws at us.  Of course, at this stage we all departed before the midnight hour.  Maybe next year we’ll incorporate a slumber party to the New Year’s festivities.