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‘Concert for America’ Chita Rivera, Patrick Wilson, Andrea Martin Weigh in

Idina Menzel, Concert for America, Great Hall Cooper Union

Idina Menzel, ‘Concert for America,’ at The Great Hall at Cooper Union on June 30, will be rebroadcast on July 8, 2018 at 9:00 pm ET on www.ConcertsforAmerica.com and Facebook.com/ConcertForAmerica where you can donate to help migrant families on the southern border (Monica Simoes)

Concert for America, hosted by Sirius XM’s Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley was held on June 30 at the Great Hall, Cooper Union. Rudetsky and Wesley debuted Concert for America on January 20, 2017 and have toured the country with eclectic talent line-ups with all concerts benefiting 5 national organizations fighting for civil, human and environmental rights.

Idina Menzel, Seth Rudetsky, James Wesley, Concert for America, Great Hall, Cooper Union

Idina Menzel hugging Seth Rudetsky with James Wesley looking on at ‘Concert for America,’ The Great Hall, Cooper Union to be rebroadcast Sunday, July 8, 2018 at 9:00 pm ET on www.ConcertsforAmerica.com and Facebook.com/ConcertForAmerica (Monica Simoes)

In light of what was happening to migrant children being separated from their families and babies being taken from their mothers, a friend posited to the duo that they put up another Concert for America. They suggested that it coincide with the day of national protests on June 30 (over 700 marches took place to protest against the egregious activities occurring at the southern border) and be held after the marches.

Seth Rudetsky, Jorge Avila, James Weslley, Concert for America, The Great Hall, Cooper Union

(L to R): Seth Rudetsky, Jorge Avila (concert violinist), James Wesley, ‘Concert for America,’ The Great Hall, Cooper Union to be rebroadcast on Sunday, July 8, 2018, 9:00 pm ET on www.ConcertsforAmerica and Facebook.com/ConcertForAmerica (Monica Simoes)

In record time Rudetsky and Wesley contacted exceptional performers who agreed to take out time from their inordinately busy schedules and perform for a “great cause,” to inspire and uplift us and to challenge us to be overcomers who fervently take a stand for the principles of freedom and democracy, decency and humanity. The Concert for America presented songs of hope and encouragement by Mandy Gonzalez, Jeremy Jordan, Idina Menzel, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Audra McDonald, Olga Merediz, Chita Rivera, Keala Settle Shaina Taub, and Patrick Wilson to name a few. Also appearing was concert violinist Jorge Avila. And Tina Fey and Andrea Martin shared their comedy and commentary. Matt Bomer and Andrew Rannells, both appearing in The Boys in the Band matinee and evening performances made, a video for the audience which Rudetsky and Wesley played.

Tina Fey, Concert for America, Great Hall, Cooper Union

Tina Fey at ‘Concert for America,’ June 30 at the Great Hall, Cooper Union to be rebroadcast July 8, 2018 at 9:00 pm ET on www.ConcertsforAmerica.com and Facebook.com/ConcertForAmerica (Monica Simoes)

Matt Bomer, Andrew Rannells, Concert for America

Matt Bomer and Andrew Rannells on video, ‘Concert for America,’ to be rebroadcast on Sunday, July 8, 2018, at 9:00 pm ET on www.ConcertsforAmerica.com and Facebook.com/ConcertForAmerica (Monica Simoes)

Also present were representatives and spokespersons from the ACLU and children’s services and the organizations working on the frontlines that the Concert for America is raising money for. These include Al Otro Lado, Texas Civil Rights Project, ACLU Foundation of Texas and Florence Project.

James Wesley, Terri Burke, Seth Rudetsky, Concert for America

James Wesley, Terri Burke (ACLU Texas) Seth Rudetsky,’ Concert for America,’ rebroadcasting on July 9, 2018, 9:00 pm ET on www.ConcertsforAmerica and Facebook.com/ConcertForAmerica. You may also donate on those sites. (Monica Simoes)

If you were unable to attend the Concert for America at the Great Hall in Cooper Union, the benefit concert will be rebroadcast on Sunday, July 8, 2018 at 9:00 pm ET on the following sites where you may also donate to help organizations help the migrant families and children on the southern border. The sites are  www.ConcertsforAmerica.com and Facebook.com/ConcertforAmerica.

Before the show started, I had the opportunity to speak with Chita Rivera, Patrick Wilson and Andrea Martin who briefly weighed in about the state of affairs in our country. Their comments are edited gently for fluidity and clarity.

Commentary by Chita Rivera.

Seth Rudetsky, Chita Rivera, Concert for America, Cooper Union

Co-host XM’s Seth Rudetsky, Chita Rivera, ‘Concert for America,’ Cooper Union will be rebroadcast on July 8, 2018, 9:00 pm ET on www.ConcertsforAmerica.com and Facebook.com/ConcertForAmerica where you may donate to help migrant families on the southern border (Monica Simoes)

Chita Rivera is a Broadway legend with two Tony awards for Best Leading Actress in a Musical and eight additional Tony nominations. She has won so many awards (including The Presidential Medal of Freedom) they have created the Chita Rivera Awards in her honor. She has originated roles in West Side Story, Bye Bye Birdie, Chicago, The Rink, The Kiss of the Spider Woman and The Visit to name a few. To read more about Chita Rivera in an interview with Richard Ridge, presented by The League of Professional Theatre Women and Lincoln Center Library for the Performing Arts, CLICK HERE.

Chita Rivera, Concert for America, The Great Hall, Cooper Union

Chita Rivera performing at ‘Concert for America’ which will rebroadcast on Sunday, July 8, 2018 at 9:00 pm ET on www.ConcertsforAmerica.com and Facebook.com/ConcertForAmerica (Monica Simoes)

Ms. Rivera, what do you say to people who are down and depressed about what is going on? You are so uplifting…

Unfortunately, this particular subject and all of the others that we’re defending here have gotten ME down and have gotten ME depressed. We have to unite. We have to not let this happen and speak up and all come together and have evenings like this and have marches that are happening. Our voices have to be heard because (the situation at the border) this is inhumane.

Chita Rivera at ‘Concert for America’ which will be rebroadcast on Sunday, July 8, 2018, at 9:00 pm ET on http://www.ConcertsforAmerica.com and Facebook.com/ConcertForAmerica (Monica Simoes)
@Concerts4USA

How far do we have to go?

I don’t know. As far as we HAVE to go. We have to take every single day and do something. We can’t lower ourselves to a level that exists out there. We can do it, legally. We can do it with the passion from our hearts. We don’t have to go to the lowest level that has manifested. We have to raise our bar. I want to feel proud to be an American again. I remember going to London and being so proud, years ago, because they were so kind to us and so welcoming that we were Americans. And I was so proud of my country. Now, I’m embarrassed to go anywhere.

(L to R): Seth Rudetsky, Lisa Mordente (Chita Rivera’s daughter), Chita Rivera, ‘Concert for America,’ will be rebroadcast on July 8, Sunday at 9:00 pm ET on http://www.ConcertsforAmerica.com and Facebook.com/ConcertForAmerica (Monica Simoes)

But you are representing the best of our country. So any time you go out and sing you show the talent and greatness of what citizens of our nation can be.

Yes. That’s why my daughter Lisa and I are here. And it’s why Freddie and John are represented here. John Kander and Fred Ebb. We’re singing “The Apple Doesn’t Fall Very Far From the Tree.” (It is from the show The Rink, Broadway-1984, by composer John Kander and lyricist Fred Ebb, book by Terrance McNally. Chita Rivera originated the role of Anna, Lisa Minelli the role of Angel). And it’s about a mother and daughter and the differences between mothers and daughters and about children. So it’s very appropriate.

Commentary by Andrea Martin

Andrea Martin, Concert for America, The Great Hall, Cooper Union

Andrea Martin, ‘Concert for America,’ The Great Hall, Cooper Union, to be rebroadcast on Sunday, July 8, 2018 at 9:00 pm ET, on www.ConcertsforAmerica.com and Facebook.com/ConcertForAmerica (Monica Simoes)

Andrea Martin is an American-Canadian actress, singer, author and comedian. Best known for her work in the television series Second City TV, she has also appeared in films, most recently My Big Fat Greek Wedding 1 and 2. Renowned on Broadway, she won Tony Awards for My Favorite Year and the 2013 Revival of Pippin. Her performances on Broadway include Candide, Oklahoma!, Fiddler on the Roof, Young Frankenstein, Exit the King and Act One. She has received five nominations for the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical more than any other actress in the award’s history.

Andrea Martin, Concert for America, The Great Hall, Cooper Union

Andrea Martin, ‘Concert for America,’ to be rebroadcast on Sunday, July 8, 2018 at 9:00 pm ET on www.ConcertsforAmerica.com and Facebook.com/ConcertForAmerica (Monica Simoes)

You’re here. You care greatly about what is happening to our nation. How do you stay cheerful in the midst of all of this?

I think you compartmentalize. And you do the best you can, staying present in your own life so you’ll have the energy to help where you’re needed. You cannot disperse your drive, your focus by being depressed all the time.

Lisa Mordente, Chita Rivera, Andrea Martin, Concert for America, The Great Hall, Cooper Union

(L to R): Lisa Mordente, Chita Rivera, Andrea Martin, backstage at ‘Concert for America,’ to be rebroadcast on Sunday, July 8, 2018 at 9:00 pm ET, on www.ConcertsforAmerica.com and Facebook.com/ConcertforAmerica (Monica Simoes)

If you could say one or two things to the leaders of our nation, what would you say to them?

I’d say, we can work this out. Let’s be decent people and listen to one another. That’s what I would say.

Commentary by Patrick Wilson

Patrick Wilson, Concert for America, The Great Hall, Cooper Union

Patrick Wilson, ‘Concert for America,’ June 30 at The Great Hall, Cooper Union, rebroadcasting on July 8, 2018, 9 pm ET on www.ConcertsforAmerica.com and Facebook.com/ConcertForAmerica (Monica Simoes)

Patrick Wilson has been starring in Broadway musicals since 1995. He is a two-time Tony Award nominee for his roles in The Full Monty (2000–2001) and Oklahoma! (2002). In 2003, he appeared in the HBO miniseries Angels in America for which he was nominated for the Golden Globe Award and Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie. He has also appeared in many films renowned for Insidious and Insidious: Chapter 2, The Conjuring and The Conjuring 2 and more. He has been cast as Orm Marius/Ocean Master in Aquaman (2018).

Patrick Wilson, Concert for America, The Great Halll, Cooper Union

Patrick Wilson, ‘Concert for America, The Great Hall, Cooper Union (Monica Simoes)

I know you’re here because you care about what’s happening at the border. You have a family. You understand. If you had the opportunity to talk to Donald Trump, or Jeff Sessions or others, what might you say to them?

The older I get, I try to follow this idea: Say what you mean and mean what you say. I’m a pretty simple guy. I try to operate from the heart. I mean this with regard not only to Donald Trump or Jeff Sessions, but anybody. Anybody who doesn’t operate from the heart? I  would say, try to! I think some people have a disconnect with the inner person. I can only speak from my experience. I want to be around people, work with people, work for people who are truthful, who believe in the good, who are creative people that lead from the heart. Those are the people I surround myself with.

Patrick Wilson, Concert for America, The Great Hall, Cooper Union

Patrick Wilson, ‘Concert for America,’ The Great Hall, Cooper Union, rebroadcasting on July 8, 2018 at 9:00 pm ET on www.ConcertsforAmerica.com and Facebook.com/ConcertForAmerica (Carole Di Tosti)

Obviously, it’s not perfect. Not every relationship is perfect, not every job is perfect. But you try to weed out those who don’t jive with you. The older I get, those are the only the kinds of people I want to work with. So it’s hard for me to go along or follow and agree with people who say, “Oh, I don’t like him, but I like his policies. Or the comment, “Well, look what he’s done.”

Patrick Wilson, The Great Hall, Cooper Union, Concert for America

Patrick Wilson, ‘Concert for America,’ The Great Hall, Cooper Union on June 30 to be rebroadcast on Sunday, July 8, 2018 at 9:00 pm ET on www.ConcertsforAmerica.com and Facebook.com/ConcertForAmerica (Monica Simoes)

 

I say, look at the person! That’s who artists are. That’s what artists do. It’s about the person. I only operate from the inside out. I don’t know how to operate any other way. For example take the guy who pays for everyone at the table but is rude to the waiter? I don’t like that guy. I don’t want to be around that guy. And I don’t want to have dinner with that guy ever again. That’s what we’re talking about.

Brian Stokes Mitchell, Patrick Wilson, Concert for America, Great Hall Cooper Union

Brian Stokes Mitchell and Patrick Wilson backstage, ‘Concert for America,’ to be rebroadcast on Sunday, July 8, 2018 at 9:00 pm ET on www.ConcertsforAmerica.com and Facebook.com/ConcertForAmerica (Monica Simoes)

The Concert for America is being rebroadcast on July 8, 2018 at 9:00 pm ET on www.ConcertsforAmerica.com and Facebook.com/ConcertForAmerica.  A few more photos of entertainers who appeared are below.

Keattle Settle, The Great Hall, Concert for America, Cooper Union

Keala Settle, ‘Concert for America,’ The Great Hall, Cooper Union, rebroadcasting on Sunday, July 8, 2018 at 9:00 pm ET on http://www.ConcertsforAmerica.com and Facebook.com/ConcertForAmerica (Monica Simoes)

Mandy Gonzalez, Concert for America, The Great Hall, Cooper Union

Mandy Gonzalez, ‘Concert for America,’ The Great Hall, Cooper Union (Monica Simoes)

Allyson Tucker, Audra McDonald, Chita Rivera, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Lisa Mordente, Concert for America, The Great Hall, Cooper Union

Backstage with Allyson Tucker, Audra McDonald, Chita Rivera, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Lisa Mordente, ‘Concert for America,’ The Great Hall, Cooper Union (Monica Simoes)

Olga Merediz, Concert for America

Olga Merediz, ‘Concert for America’ (Monica Simoes)

Jeremy Jordan, Over the Rainbow, Concert for America, The Great Hall, Cooper Union

Jeremy Jordan sings ‘Over the Rainbow,’ ‘Concert for America,’ The Great Hall, Cooper Union (Carole Di Tosti)

When you visit online www.ConcertforAmerica.com you will be able to donate to the four organizations helping families on the border: Al Otro Lado, Texas Civil Rights Project, ACLU Foundation of Texas and Florence Project. The money donated will be divided up amongst the four organizations. Since the reunification of families must be accomplished by a court ordered date, reports have circulated that there are almost 3000 children that must be brought together with their families. And as the process continues, more will be revealed that we do not yet know about.

Concert for America, The Great Hall Cooper Union

The cast sings “Let the Sunshine In” from ‘Hair,’ at ‘Concert for America,’ The Great Hall, Cooper Union (Monica Simoes)

Regarding the Concert for America, the sold out tickets and the appearance on short notice of the celebrities and entertainers who came to The Great Hall, Cooper Union indicate how much people are concerned and upset. Indeed, they took a stand and showed up  to inspire the rest of us. Many Americans, more than we may even realize, care and have a heart for children. The abusive human rights violations have to stop.

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Tony Awards. No Surprises as Tony’s Mirror Drama Desk Award Wins.

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Patina Miller won the Tony for Best Performance of a Leading Actress in a Musical Revival. When she signed my program, I told her I believed she would win the Tony. Turns out I was right. She is probably still shocked and sooo happy over her win.

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Pippin won the Tony for Best Musical Revival

 The Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall hosted by Neil Patrick Harris  held no surprises if you saw the Drama Desk Awards. The award wins echoed each other this year, as the winners of the Drama Desks and Tonys mirrored each other last year. It’s as if the separate award committees sat down with each other and agreed on the wins.

Just the highligts are repeated here, of the Best Musical, Best Musical Revival, Best Play, Best Play Revival and the Actor awards. I’m thrilled for the Kinky Boots win for Best Original Musical and Cindi Lauper’s score win for Kinky Boots. I’m glad it won over Mathilda which I didn’t think was as great as it was touted to be when I saw it. I have yet to see the production of Kinky Boots, but will get tickets as soon as possible. Billy Porter now has a Tony to add to his Drama Desk Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical. The trailer posted online with him dressed in drag is a show stopping number and looks like a deserved win. He, as many of the performers did, thanked his family and God for sustaining him throughout to bring him to the stage and the wins.

Pippin won for Best Musical Revival. I’m thrilled.  See my review of Pippin here!  I predicted wins for Andrea Martin (Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical Revival) Diane Paulus (Best Director for Musical Revival) and Patina Miller (Best Performance by an Actress in a Musical Revival). I am so thrilled because I had the opportunity to tell Andrea Martin and Patina Miller that I hope they won because they were fabulous. Their wins bring viability and credibility to their careers and will most probably sky-rocket them to other roles in film or Broadway. I’m absolutely joyous for them. They and Diane Paulus so deserve it for their efforts.

Cicely Tyson (Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play ) received the Tony to go with her Drama Desk for her incredible, moving performance in A Trip to Bountiful. She was absolutely stunning and heart-wrenching. Judith Light received a Tony to go with her Drama Desk for her humorous character portrayal in The Assembled Parties. Likewise, Tracey Letts (Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play) won the Tony, adding to his award shelf that already holds a Drama Desk and other awards for his performance of George in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?  The play’s director, Pam MacKinnon, also won the Tony as she did the Drama Desk.

Courtney B. Vance from Lucky Guy by Nora Ephron brought home the Tony for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play. He was excellent, though I did want Tony Shalhoub to win in that category for Golden Boy. Shalhoub’s portrayal of the father (too bad it was so early in the season) was exceptional; he was dynamic and powerful in his soft-spoken, loving, nuanced portrayal. His was a pivotal character, the conscience and the theme of Odets’ play. He brought together the elements brilliantly in a living, vital performance. It was a shame he didn’t win; he was breathtaking. Vance, though fine, didn’t do it for me, where Hanks, actually, was touching and wonderful…enhancing Ephron’s somewhat lackluster characterization of McAlary. (See my review.) If not for Hanks, the play would have been a yawn. But Letts was the favorite and I unfortunately missed this supposedly iconic Virginia Woolf.  After all the nominations, Matilda did receive a win for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical (Gabriel Ebert). For me, it was a toss up between Terrance Mann (Pippin) and Ebert, but I didn’t see the other performances, so I can’t say. I did think that Ebert was pushing for laughs as was Mann…both comedic roles. Comedy is very, very hard to do well.

The finest remarks in the evening were delivered by Tracey Letts as he thanked the ATW. He said something to the effect that the others in the category were not his competitors, they were his peers. He was absolutely correct: Tom Hanks (Lucky Guy) David Hyde Pierce (Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike) Nathan Lane (The Nance) and Tom Sturridge (Orphans)? I saw each production and there is absolutely no way I would have been able to select from these. Of course, I did not see Letts. And the Best Play? Christopher Durang’s Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. What can I say? I loved it and of the four nominees, it was my favorite.

As a show, The Tony Awards was better than the Oscars which lasts forever in its own self-indulgent mode. But then I only watched two hours of The Tonys while I was online doing other things. It is how I watch TV, if I watch it at all, which is extremely seldom. I prefer streaming or the interactivity of social or mobile. The more alive, the better. That is why I love theater, but am annoyed that they have not entered the Social Media age of living, breathing interactivity during performances. They (the theater police) don’t trust the rabble to not throw things, I guess.

Don’t they understand about Macros flash settings and texting and silent mode on mobile? Don’t they get it that interactivity from fans IS THE BEST PROMOTION AND ADVERTISING OUT THERE FOR A BROADWAY SHOW?  Maybe not. NASA gets it. They have Tweet teams. A play is a potential TWEET TEAM LAUNCH ON SOCIAL Yawn. I’m waiting for them to “get it.” It may take years.

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