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Laura Benanti Leads Star Studded Female Cast for the 17th Annual Broadway Stands Up For Freedom Concert My Body, My Business

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Tony Award-winning actress Laura Benanti (My Fair Lady) has been announced to host and perform at the 17th annual Broadway Stands Up For Freedom concert on Monday, October 28 at 7:30 p.m. at The Town Hall in New York City (123 W. 43 St.) Also joining the previously announced line-up of stars will be performers Alysha Umphress (On The Town), Kim Blanck (Octet) and Mili Diaz (Wicked).  

“We have never needed the NYCLU more than in this particular moment in time,” says Benanti. “My dear friend Celia Keenan-Bolger is a tireless activist who deserves all the accolades and praise (although she requires none of it). I am honored to be a part of this event, and hope that everyone who can will join us for what is sure to be a memorable evening.”

Eva Noblezada, Kelli O’Hara, Phillipa Soo 

The evening’s previously announced performers include Tony Award winner The evening’s previously announced performers include Tony Award winner Kelli O’Hara (Kiss Me Kate), Tony Award nominees Montego Glover (Memphis), Judy Kuhn (Fun Home), Phillipa Soo (Hamilton), and Eva Noblezada (Hadestown) as well as Broadway performers Krystina Alabado (Mean Girls), Julia Murney (Wicked), Jeannette Bayardelle (Hair), Shoba Narayan (The Great Comet), and Emmy nominee Shaina Taub (Public Works’ Twelfth Night), along with Starr Busby(Octet), L Morgan Lee (A Strange Loop), We McDonald (NBC’s The Voice), Liana Stampur, and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus.

With the theme My Body, My Business, the October 28th event will honor Tony Award-winning actress Celia Keenan-Bolger (To Kill A Mockingbird) with the Michael Friedman Freedom Award as well as the Tony Award-winning producer Eva Price (Oklahoma!, Jagged Little Pill) and Tony Award-winning producing company Level Forward (Slave Play, Oklahoma!).  For tickets and event info, visit www.BroadwayStandsUp.com.  

Rachel Chavkin – the Tony Award-winning director of the 2019 Best Musical Tony winner Hadestown – directs this year’s event with Annie Tippe as the associate director. The concert will celebrate the power and courage of people fighting for reproductive rights and bodily integrity of women and trans people. The evening will feature performances and appearances by Broadway performers and inspiring activists who stand up for freedom and civil liberties for all.

“Now, more than ever, we must come together as a community to fight for the rights of women and trans people, especially those most marginalized because of their race, class, disability, or immigration status,” said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the NYCLU. “Art has always been a powerful cornerstone of social justice movements, and this year’s concert will continue the tradition of using music to bring people together, celebrate our victories, and inspire us for the fights ahead.” 

Ms. Keenan-Bolger will be the first recipient of the Michael Friedman Freedom Award. As a founding member of the Broadway Stands Up For Freedom planning committee, she has been one of the most active contributors over the years. The NYCLU and ACLU are honoring Celia for living a life and pursuing a career dedicated to social justice. She uses her talent and voice to educate, create dialogue, and catalyze social change both on stage and off. This commitment has shown through in her representation of Scout in To Kill A Mocking Bird on Broadway, for which she received a Tony Award in 2019. 

The NYCLU and the ACLU are also honoring Eva Price and the founders of Level Forward: Adrienne Becker, Abigail Disney, Rachel Gould, and Angie Wang — a female-led entertainment company, producing outstanding works on Broadway, as well as other mediums. Their commitment to projects spearheaded by female creatives and people of color challenges and inspires all of us to advance diversity, equity and inclusion. Additionally, their efforts to level the playing field through innovative revenue sharing partnerships with nonprofits has the power to transform the industry. 

The event this year is executive produced by Robb Nanus and Rachel Sussman. Rona Siddiqui will serve as music director. Jereme Kyle Wilson will be the production stage manager and Jeremy Leiner serves as associate producer. Projection and video design will be by Kate Freer, lighting design by Alan C. Edwards, and scenic design by Donyale Werle. The band will include Geoff Countryman, Clinton Curtis, Justin Goldner, Janna Graham and Cynthia Meng.

Broadway Stands Up For Freedom is co-founded by Liana Stampur and Erich Bergen. 

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.broadwaystandsup.com. Proceeds from the concert will benefit the NYCLU’s and ACLU’s missions to promote and protect the civil rights and liberties in New York and across the country. VIP tickets ($250/500/1000) and regular admission tickets can be purchased through Ticketmaster and through the Town Hall website www.thetownhall.org, or in person at the Town Hall box office. To purchase sponsorship packages, please visit www.broadwaystandsup.com.

About Eva Price
EVA PRICE is a three-time Tony Award-winning producer of over 18 Broadway plays, musicals, and concerts, a member of The Broadway League’s Board of Governors, and on the producing team of Killer Content and Abigail Disney’s venture Level Forward. Credits: Oklahoma! (2 Tony Awards, Best Musical Revival); Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill (A.R.T., Broadway); What the Constitution Means to Me (2 Tony Nominations); Angels in America (Tony-winning revival starring Nathan Lane and Andrew Garfield); Dear Evan Hansen (6 Tony Awards including Best Musical); On Your Feet!Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons on Broadway!; Peter and the Starcatcher (5 Tony Awards); Colin Quinn Long Story Short (directed by Jerry Seinfeld); Annie (Tony-Nominated Musical Revival); The Merchant of Venice starring Al Pacino (Tony-Nominated Play Revival); Carrie Fisher’s Wishful Drinking; The Addams Family; Off-Bway: Cruel Intentions: The ‘90s Musical; Drama Desk-nominated Found; The Lion (Drama Desk-winner, Off-West End-winner); Small Mouth Sounds. Touring: The Hip Hop Nutcracker with Rap Icon Kurtis Blow; The Magic School Bus Live!: The Climate Challenge; Ella, a bio musical about the life and music of Ella Fitzgerald.

About Level Forward
Level Forward develops, produces and finances high quality entertainment with Oscar, Emmy and Tony Award-winning producers, working to extend the influence and opportunity of creative excellence, advance economic transformation and support new voices. The Company takes great responsibility for its work, using film, television, digital and live theater to advance equity and shareholder return through story-driven, impact-minded properties. 

In 2019, Level Forward’s work was nominated for a combined ten Tony Awards, including two for What The Constitution Means To Me, and two wins for Oklahoma!, one of those going in the history books for Ali Stroker. Level Forward also wrapped four films in the past year, all by first-time female, feature film directors including Topside from wife and husband team Celine Held/Logan George and The Assistant from Kitty Green, as well as seven short films from a variety of emerging female filmmakers in partnership with Refinery29. The Team is also a producer on Slave Play’s transfer to Broadway and the forthcoming musical Jagged Little Pill.

Alongside the Company’s creative properties, Level Forward also addresses systemic challenges and opportunities through its various initiatives. Among them, the Company’s commitment to cause 10% of net proceeds from each Level Forward property to go to designated non-profit organizational partners, at least one paired with everything produced. Level Forward also shares a lot of the Company’s deal language addressing equity and impact around the industry, including its Gun Neutral initiative. The apolitical collaboration among multiple entertainment companies creates an offset for any productions that includes guns, on screens and stages of all sizes. It has also invested in developing technology such as Rotten Apples which bridges storytellers with community organizers and are working to increase the visibility and access of women and people of color to the entertainment industry, on emerging community platforms and internal programs it is currently incubating.

At the heart of Level Forward is the belief that perspectives which have been kept on the margins until now can be the most innovative and valuable, and that being a good business must start by doing good. Level Forward shared the Tony stage with 25 survivors of gun violence, and it shares this ACLU honor with the community and movement at large to re-define what a high-performance enterprise looks like, and how it behaves justly, equitably and ethically for all.

Suzanna, co-owns and publishes the newspaper Times Square Chronicles or T2C. At one point a working actress, she has performed in numerous productions in film, TV, cabaret, opera and theatre. She has performed at The New Orleans Jazz festival, The United Nations and Carnegie Hall. She has a screenplay and a TV show in the works, which she developed with her mentor and friend the late Arthur Herzog. She is a proud member of the Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle and was a nominator. Email: suzanna@t2conline.com

Broadway

Broadway in Bryant Park And You Are There With Hell’s Kitchen, Water For Elephants, The Wiz and More

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July 11, 106.7 LITE FM’s Broadway in Bryant Park kicked off its 2024 program, bringing the best of Broadway back together for free performances, every Thursday in July.

From AMDA College of the Performing Arts-Kyle Taylor Parker

From AMDA College of the Performing Arts-Kyle Taylor Parker, Charity Arianna , Destiny David, Ailadis Hernandez De Leon, Nyjair Wilkerson and Jackson Bateman

This week’s performances included: a preshow featuring students from AMDA

Ali Louis Bourzgui

Bobby Conte and Ali Louis Bourzgui

Bobby Conte, Ali Louis Bourzgui and Adam Jacobs

Ali Louis Bourzgui, Bobby Conte,

Lily Kren, Alexandra Matteo, Daniel Quadrino, Jenna Nicole Schoen, Nathan Lucrezio, Reagan Pender, Bobby Conte, Tyler James Eisenreich, Mark Mitrano, Haley Gustafson, Afra Hines, Dee Tomasetta, Adam Jacobs, Ali Louis Bourzgui, David Paul Kidder, Jeremiah Alsop, Andrew Tufano and Ronnie Bowman, Jr.

The Who’s Tommy (Ali Louis Bourzgui, Adam Jacobs, Bobby Conte, Haley Gustafson and more)

Isabelle McCalla and Ken Wulf Clark

Ken Wulf Clark

Joe De Paul and Asa Somers

Isabelle McCalla and Ken Wulf Clark

Isabelle McCalla and Ken Wulf Clark

Isabelle McCalla and Ken Wulf Clark

Joe De Paul, Asa Somers and Sara Gettelfinger

Joe De Paul, Asa Somers and Sara Gettelfinger

Joe De Paul, Asa Somers and Sara Gettelfinger

Joe De Paul, Asa Somers and Sara Gettelfinger

Ken Wulf Clark, Sara Gettelfinger, Joe De Paul and Asa Somers

Ken Wulf Clark, Sara Gettelfinger, Joe De Paul and Asa Somers

Ken Wulf Clark, Joe De Paul, Asa Somers and Isabella McCalla

Water for Elephants (Isabelle McCalla, Ken Wulf Clark, Asa Somers, Sara Gettelfinger, Joe De Paul)

Avery Wilson

Kyle Ramar Freeman and Nichelle Lewis

Kyle Ramar Freeman

Kyle Ramar Freeman

Melody A. Betts

Kyle Ramar Freeman

Nichelle Lewis

Nichelle Lewis, Kyle Ramar Freeman, Avery Wilson and Polanco Jones Jr.

Kyle Ramar Freeman, Avery Wilson and Polanco Jones Jr.

Kyle Ramar Freeman, Polanco Jones Jr., Nichelle Lewis, Melody A. Betts and Avery Wilson

The Wiz (Avery Wilson, Kyle Ramar Freeman, Melody A. Betts, Nichelle Lewis, Polanco Jones Jr.)

Jelani Remy

JJ Niemann

Evan Alexander Smith and JJ Niemann

Evan Alexander Smith and JJ Niemann

Evan Alexander Smith and JJ Niemann

Evan Alexander Smith and JJ Niemann

Jelani Remy and JJ Niemann

Jelani Remy and JJ Niemann

Jelani Remy and JJ Niemann

Evan Alexander Smith, Katie Laduca, JJ Niemann and Aaron Alcaraz

Hannah Kevitt and JJ Niemann

Evan Alexander Smith, JJ Niemann, Jelani Remy and The Cast of Back To The Future that includes Hannah Kevitt, Cixtoria Byrd, Kimberly Immanuel, Jessie Peltier, Gregory Carl Banks Jr., Katie Laduca, Joshua Kenneth Allen Johnson and Aaron Alcaraz

Evan Alexander Smith, JJ Niemann, Jelani Remy, Hannah Kevitt, Cixtoria Byrd, Kimberly Immanuel, Jessie Peltier, Gregory Carl Banks Jr., Katie Laduca, Joshua Kenneth Allen Johnson and Aaron Alcaraz

Back to the Future (Jelani Remy, JJ Niemann, Evan Alexander Smith)

Gianna Harris and Lamont Walker II

Lamont Walker II

Jade Milan, Jackie Leon and Gianna Harris

Jade Milan, Jackie Leon and Gianna Harris

Donna Vivino

Donna Vivino

Donna Vivino, Gianna Harris, Lamont Walker II, Jade Milan and Jackie Leon and Jackie Leon

and Hell’s Kitchen (Gianna Harris, Vanessa Ferguson, Jackie Leon, Donna Vivino, Lamont Walker II)

106.7 Lite FM’s Helen Little

106.7 Lite FM’s Helen Little is joined by Co Host Kyle Ramar Freeman

with host Helen Little and co-host Kyle Ramar Freeman.

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Broadway

Get Ready For Broadway in Bryant Park

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The most popular shows on and off Broadway will perform their biggest hits in the park starting this Thursday the 11th! Head to the the lawn at Bryant Park and enjoy Broadway for lunch. The performances will happen on four summer Thursdays, hosted and presented by LiteFM.

This week from 12:30pm-1:30pm 106.7 LITE FM Host: Helen Little will host. For the pre-show: A special performance by the students of AMDA College of the Performing Arts. Then get ready for performances by Back to the Future, Hell’s Kitchen, The Who’s TOMMY, The Wiz and
Water For Elephants.

In coming weeks look from The Outsiders, SIX: The Musical, Moulin Rouge! The Musical, Wicked, Chicago and & Juliet.

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Ken Fallin’s Broadway:​ Happy Birthday Audra McDonald

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On July 3rd, Audra McDonald celebrated her 54th birthday. The 1970 American Tony, Grammy and Emmy Award-winning theatrical and operatic singer, and stage and screen actress (Lady Day At Emerson’s Bar and Grill; Sweeney Todd; Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny; TV Private Practice, The Good Wife), was born in West Berlin, West Germany (now Berlin, Germany)

As been announced six-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald will return to Broadway this fall, as Mama Rose in Gypsy.

Performances begin Thursday, November 21st, at Broadway’s newly renovated Majestic Theatre. Happy Thanksgiving! The show will open on Thursday, December 19th. Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukah.

The last show to play the Majestic Theatre was The Phantom of the Opera, which concluded its 35 year-run on April 16, 2023.

This upcoming revival will be directed by the legendary five-time Tony Award-winning director George C. Wolfe. The choreography will be by four-time Tony Award nominated Camille A. Brown.  Additional casting and creative team members will be announced at a later date.

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Coming In August Broadway Barks Returns to Shubert Alley

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The 26th anniversary of the star-studded dog and cat adoption event, Broadway Barks returns to Shubert Alley on Saturday, August 3, 2024 to benefit New York City animal rescue groups. The event, co-founded by Bernadette Peters and Mary Tyler Moore, features Broadway celebrities who use their star power to help find loving homes for animals in need from 24 NYC area adoption and rescue groups.

Bernadette Peters and Sutton Foster. Photo courtesy of Broadway Barks.

Bernadette Peters and Sutton Foster will co-host this year’s festivities! Other celebrity participants to be announced soon.

Photo by Daniel Roberts, © Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

Barks begins at 3pm with a ‘meet and greet’ of all the adoptable pets; from 5–6:30pm, adoptees make their Broadway debut on stage alongside some of Broadway’s favorite stars for the celebrity presentations.Produced by Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, the adoption event takes place in Shubert Alley (located between 44th and 45th Streets, between Broadway and Eighth Avenues).

Photo by Daniel Roberts, © Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

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Shows to Keep Your Eyes On: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, Death Becomes Her and The Queen of Versailles

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The new musical Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is based on John Berendt’s 1994 non-fiction book and makes its world premiere this summer at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre. The book is by  Taylor Mac and music and lyrics by Tony winner Jason Robert Brown, performances are scheduled for June 25–August 4 in the Albert Theatre. Tony winner Rob Ashford will direct the production with choreography by Tanya Birl.

Tony winner J. Harrison Ghee, is The Lady Chablis; Tony nominee Tom Hewitt as Jim Williams; and Olivier nominee Sierra Boggess as Emma Dawes.

The company also includes Lance Roberts (The Best Man) as Bobby Lewis, Austin Colby (The Great Gatsby) as Danny Hansford, Bailee Endebrock (Parade) as Corrine Strong, Shanel Bailey (The Book of Mormon) as Lavella Cole, Jessica Molaskey (Sunday in the Park with George) as Alma Knox Carter, Brianna Buckley (the ripple, the wave that carried me home) as Minerva, Mary Ernster (War Paint) as Serena Barnes/Dawn Avery, McKinley Carter (Turn of the Century) as Vera Strong, Maya Bowles (The Wiz) as Stacey Brown, DeMarius Copes (Some Like It Hot) as Jeremiah Jones, Sean Donovan as Luther Driggers, Jason Michael Evans (Anastasia tour) as Colonel Atwood/Burt, Christopher Kelley as Bubbles/Gregory, Andre Terrell Malcolm (Hamilton tour) as Josiah Domingo, Aaron James McKenzie (A Beautiful Noise) as Jethro Myles, Wes Olivier as Jack the One-Eyed Jill, Kayla Marie Shipman as Millicent/Mary, and Rory Shirley as Stefanie Davis.

The show tracks an antiques dealer through four trials for murdering a male prostitute in Savannah, Georgia. The story is modeled on the real-life shooting of Daniel Lewis  Hansford. The work won the 1995 Boeke Prize and was a finalist for the 1995 Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction. A film adaptation was released in 1997 starring John Cusack and Kevin Spacey.

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil was a seminal book for me as a young queer person, coming out in the late 1980s and early ’90s,” added Mac. “The eccentricities of Savannah, and how they were celebrated by such a large readership, seemed to say, the things that made me odd and an outcast in the world were actually things I should cherish. Likewise, musical theatre has always had a similar effect on me. Singing our thoughts is such an eccentric way of expressing ourselves—yet so perfectly aligned with my personal liberation and joy. So turning Midnight into a musical, and with such master craftspeople as Jason, Rob, and Tanya is essentially an extension of celebrating the joy and liberation from exposing what’s hidden.”

“When I am deciding to start a new show, the two most important questions I ask myself are: 1) Does it sing? and 2) Do I get to work with fun people? With Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, I knew the answers to both questions immediately,” stated Brown. “The book’s milieu, so rich with mystery and romance and history, sings with every sentence, deeply passionate, slyly comic, emotions threatening to boil over on every page. And to work with Rob Ashford, whose transformative production of Parade at the Donmar Warehouse in 2007 reinvigorated not only the show’s reputation but my creative process, was a no-brainer. But then add to that the brilliant, joyful, radically inclusive mind of Taylor Mac, and there was no way I could resist. Creating this world with these mad geniuses is, in true Savannah tradition, a grand and great party. I can’t wait for the world to join in.”

Madeline Ashton (Tony Award® nominees Megan Hilty (Wicked, “Smash”)) is the most beautiful actress (just ask her) ever to grace the stage and screen. Helen Sharp (Jennifer Simard (Company, Disaster!)) is the long-suffering author (just ask her) who lives in her shadow. They have always been the best of frenemies…until Madeline steals Helen’s fiancé (Christopher Sieber (Spamalot, Company)) away. As Helen plots revenge and Madeline clings to her rapidly fading star, their world is suddenly turned upside down by Viola Van Horn, a mysterious woman with a secret that’s to die for.

After one sip of Viola’s (Grammy® Award winner Michelle Williams (Destiny’s Child, Chicago)) magical potion, Madeline and Helen begin a new era of life (and death) with their youth and beauty restored…and a grudge to last eternity.

Death Becomes Her, based on the classic 1992 film, is a drop-dead hilarious new musical comedy about friendship, love, and burying the hatchet…again, and again, and again.

Life’s a bitch and then you die. Or not!

Death Becomes Her is coming to the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on October 23, 2024, ahead of an opening night on November 21, 2024.

The Queen of Versailles, the new Stephen Schwartz musical starring Kristin Chenoweth and F. Murray Abraham as billionarie-couple Jackie and David Siegel, begins performances at Boston’s Emerson Colonial Theatre on July 16 and will now run through August 25.

The cast will feature Stephen DeRosa (Boardwalk Empire) as John, Greg Hildreth (Company) as Gary, Tatum Grace Hopkins as Jonquil, Tony Award nominee Isabel Keating (The Boy from Oz) as Debbie, Melody Butiu as Sofia Flores and Nina White as Victoria Siegel.

The company will also include Anna Bakun, Stacie Bono, Yeman Brown, Amanda Jane Cooper, David Aron Damane, Drew Elhamalawy, Sara Esty, K.J. Hippensteel, Diana Huey, Cassondra James, Andrew Kober, Jesse Kovarsky, Pablo David Laucerica, Travis Murad Leland, Michael Mulheren, Michael McCorry Rose and Grace Slear.

The Queen of Versailles is an adaptation of the 2012 documentary of the same name about socialite Jacqueline “Jackie” Siegel, the book is by Lindsey Ferrentino (Ugly Lies the Bone) and direction by Tony winner Michael Arden (Parade).

From computer engineer to Mrs. Florida to billionairess, Jackie Siegel sees herself as the embodiment of the American Dream. Now, as the wife of David “The Timeshare King” Siegel and mother of their eight children, they invite us to behold their most grandiose venture yet: They’re building the largest private home in America in Orlando, Florida—a $100 million house big enough for her dreams and inspired by the Palace of Versailles. But with the Great Recession of 2008 looming, Jackie and David’s dreams begin to crumble, along with their lavish lifestyle. The Queen of Versailles explores the true cost of fame, fortune and family.

The production will feature choreography by Lauren Yalango-Grant and Christopher Cree Grant, music supervision by Mary-Mitchell Campbell, scenic design by Dane Laffrey, lighting design by Natasha Katz and sound design by Peter Hylenski, as well as costume design by fashion designer Christian Cowan.

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