Rain begins to fall while Matthew Morrison performs during “An Evening With the Stars” at the Muny in Forest Park on Saturday, May 19, 2018. The production, postponed from Friday night due to storms, is part of a celebration this weekend for the Muny’s centennial season. Photo by Jon Gitchoff
It rained Saturday night, but that didn’t dampen spirits at the Muny, where a host of performers carried on and a crowd of 6,975 fans cheered and clapped through “An Evening with the Stars” — the theater’s Centennial Gala.
The one-time-only show’s originally scheduled performance, on Friday night, was postponed because of rain. On Saturday, it went ahead at 9:15 p.m. but before a smaller audience, with two long interruptions for rain. But almost nobody left.
“We have missed only one show in 20 years,” said Chuck Mueller of Belleville, who sat under an umbrella with his wife, Jan, surrounded by relatives. “That was a rainout.”
He wasn’t about to let that happen twice. And you could see his point, because this event involved a sensational production. Almost every act could have been the “11 o’clock number” in any normal show.
Broadway icon Chita Rivera, in a stunning red sequinned pants suit, gave a zesty performance of “All That Jazz” from “Chicago” and teamed up with the legendary Tommy Tune for “Rosie” from “Bye Bye Birdie.” Ken Page, who got his start at the Muny before he played Old Deuteronomy in the original Broadway production of “Cats” , sang a tender rendition of that show’s biggest song, “Memory.”
The evening’s hosts, Broadway stars Matthew Morrison and Heather Headley, introduced the other artists and performed dynamic numbers of their own. Morrison led a highly condensed, 8-minute version of “Hairspray” while Headley soloed in a breathtaking medley of songs from “Funny Girl.”
Patrick Cassidy led a lively chorus of Muny Kids, Muny Teens and Muny veterans in “Trouble” from “The Music Man,” then presented a clip in which his mother, Muny Hall-of-Famer Shirley Jones, wished the theater happy birthday.
Two other Broadway stars, Graham Rowat and Jenny Powers, added elegance and comedy, respectively.
A big dance ensemble, choreographed by Michael Baxter, shone throughout, particularly when they joined Lara Teeter in a big tap treatment of “We’re in the Money” from “42nd Street” and in “Seize the Day” from “Newsies.”
Dennis Reagan, the Muny’s president and CEO, thanked “the best audience in the world” for its patience through the rain delays. Virtually everyone received generous applause, including the stagehands who mopped the stage after both cloudbursts. Paul Tarte dePoo III designed the versatile sets, Robin L. McGee designed the festive costumes and music director Michael Horsley led the generous Muny orchestra. Matt Kunkel directed the show, which kept a bright pace despite the weather.
For the last number a little before midnight, the audience enjoyed “One” and a fabulous fireworks display. In “A Chorus Line,” “One” is about a glamorous entertainer. But on Saturday night, it was unmistakably a song about the Muny.
Thousands more Muny lovers came to the Forest Park theater Sunday afternoon, where the celebration continued with lots of activities for families. The weather was lovely.
Sunrise, Florida (CNN) Drama students past and present shared the stage Monday night for a benefit concert featuring stars and survivors of a school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
“From Broadway With Love: A Benefit Concert for Parkland, USA” featured a star-studded roster of Broadway and television entertainers, including “Glee” actor Matthew Morrison, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” star Rachel Bloom and award-winning recording artist Deborah Cox.
More than 4,700 people attended the concert at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida, organizers said. The celebrity entertainers performed with Stoneman Douglas students and local arts groups, including the Student Choir of Broward and Dance Theatre of Broward, on a program that ranged from upbeat and inspirational to reflective and moving to fun and silly.
Despite the circumstances that brought them together, Bloom said the chemistry among the performers was instantly palpable. After all, the celebrity performers were once theater kids, she said.
“Tonight is about them and I’m happy to be here and support them. The kids from Marjory Stoneman Douglas are doing what the arts are supposed to do — they are channeling their intense feelings and rage and thoughts into their art, which is a way to communicate with people and make the world better,” Bloom said in an interview before the show.
“This is an example of why theater and the arts in schools is so important,” she said. “It makes me proud to be a fellow theater kid seeing what all these people are doing with theater and music.”
‘A healing night’
The concert opened with a stirring rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” sung by “Mamma Mia!” actress Carrie Manolakos and a choir of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students.Former “American Idol” contestant Justin Guarini performed a song written by a Stoneman Douglas student.
Deborah Cox crooned “I Will Always Love You” as images of the 17 victims flashed behind her. The dance group that victim Jaime Guttenberg belonged to staged an emotional performance that elicited cheers of “We love you, Jaime” as the dancers left the spotlight.
Moments of levity punctuated the somber tone, such as Bloom’s rendition of “F—ton of Cats” and Erich Bergen’s performance of “Man in the Mirror,” all with backup from Stoneman Douglas students. “Glee” star Matthew Morrison and Stoneman Douglas senior Kali Clougherty nearly stole the show with a duet performance of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”
Stoneman Douglas sophomore Tanzil Philip, who hit the high note near the end of “Seasons of Love,” said performing in the show was difficult during the memorial parts. “But by the end, the whole thing felt healing,” he said. “It was a healing night.”
‘Everything we’re doing is for them’
Working with the teen performers made the February 14 shooting feel all the more real, Broadway performer Donna Lynne Champlin said. But in the frenzied excitement of rehearsals, it was easy to momentarily forget why they were there, the “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” actress said.
“We’re sort of looking at our younger selves and going, ‘When we were your age we were writing songs about rainy days and broken hearts, and here you are writing songs about losing numerous friends.’ I think they’re extraordinary” she said. “I can’t even imagine what their reality is like.”
The concert was the culmination of weeks of intense preparation, Stoneman Douglas junior Sawyer Garrity said before the concert. But she never forgot what brought everyone together.
“There’s been some really awesome moments because of this, but it’s hard to feel excited or happy about them because you realize what happened and why we’re getting all these opportunities,” she said.
With the help of composer Duncan Sheik, she and another student composed a song based on a poem written by shooting victim Alex Schachter. His parents asked them to write the song after their first performance at a town hall after the shooting, she said.
“This song is for him. He’s going to live on through this song and through this poem he wrote,” she said.
“In the end, everything that we’re doing is for them and everything that we’re doing is so that they’ll be remembered — all the 17, and even the ones who were injured and anyone hurt by gun violence.”
From Broadway With Love: A Benefit Concert for Parkland, USA will feature performances and special appearances from Emmy, Tony, and Golden Globe nomineeMatthew Morrison (Glee, Finding Neverland), Golden Globe winner Rachel Bloom (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend), award-winning recording artist Deborah Cox (The Bodyguard), Wayne Brady (Kinky Boots, Hamilton), Kirsten Maldonado (Pentatonix), Noah Galvin (The Real O’Neals,Dear Evan Hansen), Justin Guarini (American Idol, In Transit), Vincent Rodriguez III (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend), Ephraim Sykes (Hamilton, Hairspray Live), Erich Bergen (Madam Secretary), Christy Altomare (Anastasia), Laura Bell Bundy (Anger Management, Legally Blonde), Telly Leung (Aladdin), Jordan Donica (My Fair Lady, Hamilton), Donna Lynne Champlin (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend), Gabrielle Ruiz (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, If/Then), Etai Benson (The Band’s Visit), Carrie Manolakos (Mamma Mia), George Salazar (Godspell, The Lightning Thief), Bryan Fenkhart (Waitress, Memphis), Charity Angel Dawson (Waitress, Side Show), Jessica Vosk (Wicked), Brandon Shapiro, and Jake Wildhorn.
The performers will be accompanied by the South Florida Symphony. Some of the songs that will be performed were written by the Stoneman Douglas students in collaboration with composers Joe Iconis, Bobby Cronin, Zoe Sarnak, Drew Gasparini, and others.
There will also be a performance by Jamie Guttenberg’s dance troupe in honor of her memory. Several Stoneman Douglas students will speak at the event as well.
Approximately 10,000 tickets have been donated to the families of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students and staff.
The performance line-up is subject to change and additional performers will be announced in the coming weeks.
Stars of the stage and screen will unite April 16 for From Broadway With Love: A Benefit Concert for Parkland, a one-night-only concert to benefit the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Victims’ Fund and Shine MSD, which is working to promote arts advocacy in the community in the wake of the February 14 tragedy at the Florida high school. The concert will be held at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida.
Tickets are available online at Ticketmaster.com, by calling (800) 345-7000 or at the BB&T Center Box Office.
For 26 years Elton John has been synonymous with Oscar night as his annual Oscar-viewing party and fundraiser for his Elton John AIDS Foundation has become a staple of the awards. The foundation’s chairman and John’s husband, David Furnish, is still amazed the couple get to invite their friends and favorite musicians to raise funds to fight AIDS.
“I always say to Elton when we leave and walk out the front door of our house to go and do the event, ‘We should be break dancing down the driveway,'” Furnish says. “The fact that we’re still able to do this after 26 years and get the support that we get. We’re already several million dollars inthe bank before we’ve done the auction, before we’ve done the pledging, just the level of support we get is unbelievable.”
That begs an important question: who is the better break dancer? “Me, definitely. When Arlene Phillips directed Elton in his ‘I’m Still Standing’ video she said he was the worst dancer with no sense of rhythm she’d ever worked with in her career,” Furnish says cracking up. “That’s not me, that’s Arlene Phillips who said that.”
Furnish promised he’d be break dancing in the pit last night when young rockers Greta Van Fleet took the stage following the Oscar telecast/dinner and a silent auction. Actor/musician Matthew Morrison also promised to be break dancing.
“I’m always in the mosh pit, I’ll be break dancing in the mosh pit,” he joked.
Morrison is a veteran of the party, having attended for more than a decade. He comes out because of his friendship with John and the cause.
“I’ve been coming to this event for over a decade now. They’re not gonna stop anytime soon,” Morrison said. “This is a force. People don’t talk about HIV and AIDS the way they used to. It was an epidemic, it’s got a little bit of a handle, but it’s still an epidemic out there. But I think if it wasn’t for the Elton John AIDS Foundation we would be talking about it in a much different way because they have done so much, not just for the actual disease, but for the stigma and the kind of shame that is associated with the disease. It’s amazing the outreach that they have and the work that they do behind the scenes.”
When throwing an Oscar party and fund raiser it has to both share the message and be a hell of a party. It is as Morrison’s most memorable moment attests to.
“I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I will because it was very memorable, Elton John often wears those studded shoes, blinged out, I remember licking his shoe one year,” Morrison says. “Yeah, had a few drinks and he held it up. That was my most memorable moment.”
Matthew Morrison’s5-month-old son Revel will never have that problem in school where the teacher calls out a name and five different kids look up. We’re looking at you, David and Michael.
Morrison told Us Weekly on Wednesday, March 1, that he and his wife, Renee Puente, spent a long time deliberating over monikers for their first born before deciding on Revel — “Rev” for short.
“My wife’s name is Renee, and I’m Matthew, obviously,” Morrison told Us at the Annual Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Awards viewing party press preview day in West Hollywood. “We wanted our boy to have an R name . . . and we just kind of came with different R names.”
The couple kicked around “Ryder” and “Ryner” until one day it just came to them.
“We were just having a conversation and talking about how we want to revel in our child, just revel in love,” explained the 39-year-old dad. “It’s not really a typical name, but it’s not so weird.”
The Glee alum added: “The thing we didn’t really anticipate was, whenever I say his name, some people are like, ‘Rebel?’ That’s the only hard thing.”
hough Morrison, who has been involved with the Elton John AIDS foundation for more than a decade, was thrilled to be at the event, he admitted it was hard to be away from his infant.
“I hate leaving my kid with anyone. We’d rather have him around,” he said. “For things like this, it’s a special night. We’re hermits. We never go out!”
But Morrison and Puente aren’t having any trouble keeping their romance alive. “We’ll put him to bed a little early,” he told Us, “Then we’ll just go downstairs and cook an amazing meal together.”
Stage and screen hearrthrob Matthew Morrison chats about how becoming a father has changed his career, what he loves about New York City vs. LA and date days with his wife, Renee, at Issue 004 cover shoot at Garcia House in Los Angeles.
Matthew Morrison and wife Renee Puentewere on a date night. But all the Glee star wanted to talk to Us Weekly about was their infant son, [Revel] James Mak[a]i.
“He’s intensified the love I have for life,” the Glee star, 39, told Us at Todd Snyder’s fashion show – which was presented by Cooper & Thief Cellarmasters — on Monday, February 5. “The baby is three and a half months and he’s finally noticing us and realizing how important we are to him and his survival.”
Indeed, when the actor and Renee went out one evening, they got a call from the nanny. “She’s like, ‘OK, he’s fine, but you need to get home!’” Puente recalled to Us. When she entered James’ nursery, it was clear he was upset that Mom and Dad hadn’t included him in their plans. “He was, like, angry, making out with my face!” she laughed. “I would turn around and he would pull my hair. It was the most glorious unconditional love.”
Puente who joked that she could have 20 kids, added that doesn’t regret waiting a few years to expand their family. “It’s, like, thank God we did everything we could before had babies,” she told Us. “We had every last conversation. We had every last travel and adventure together and we were ready for this new element to come and just sweep us off our feet feet. And he did. He did.”
Though the couple are still getting to know their nugget, it appears he takes after Morrison, who has appeared in three Broadway musicals, including Hairspray and Footloose. “We sing to him all the time,” the actor told Us. “He lights up.”