Broadway Gives Its Regards to Washington, DC
Washington, DC was treated to a bit of Broadway on Monday afternoon when the New York Loves America tour arrived at Union Station. Washington is only one stop on this 16 day tour, which has been getting an overwhelmingly positive response. Headed by Jed Bernstein, President of the League of American Theaters and Producers, and performer Sandy Duncan, the tour is the Broadway community's way of saying thank you for the national outpouring of support given to New York after the tragic events of September 11th.
Joining Sandy Duncan were four veteran Broadway performers, Olivier Award nominee Ruthie Henshall (Chicago, Putting It Together), Keith Byron Kirk (Miss Saigon, The Civil War), Tony nominee Michael Mulheren (Kiss Me Kate, Titanic) and Paige Price (Saturday Night Fever, Smokey Joe's Café), who is also an associate producer of the tour.
"I am also a counselor and we were thinking of ways [to help]. Show tours and things like that. I know Jed from being in the business. I wanted to get involved with a production - a project that I felt strongly about. And that is why he came to me with this and asked me if I wanted to take part," explains Price.
And it is evident that this tour is very special for all involved. Having known a number of firefighters, Michael Mulheren was personally affected by the events of September 11th. "I was glad to do [the tour] because I had a lot of friends who were killed."
The hour-long concert opened with a statement from Jed Bernstein. He expressed his empathy for the victims of the Pentagon attack and conveyed his gratitude for the support New York has received in the last few months. "We couldn't pick up the Statue of Liberty and drag it around," he stated to the crowd. "Instead we decided to bring New York's most famous export - Broadway."
Jed Bernstein and Sandy Duncan then presented a fire helmet to Deputy Fire Chief William Fitzgerald. The helmet, which was signed by former Mayor Rudolf Guilianni and current Mayor Michael Bloomberg, was donated by the Engine 54 firehouse - a station that lost 15 of their firefighters on the day of the attack.
Led by Sandy Duncan, the cast kicked off the entertainment with a rousing rendition of "All That Jazz" from the hit musical, Chicago. The concert featured music from other Broadway favorites including The Phantom Of The Opera, Cabaret, Rent, Oklahoma!, Mamma Mia and The Full Monty. The new musical One Mo' Time, which is set to start performances in late February, was also represented.
There were many show stopping moments throughout the concert. Keith Byron Kirk received a big hand for his lovely interpretation of "Music Of The Night." Paige Price and Ruthie Henshall got the audience moving with their energetic take on "Dancing Queen." Michael Mulheren was a crowd pleaser with his amusing performance of "Mr. Cellophane" and later on joined a number of children sitting on the floor while Sandy Duncan performed "Neverland" from Peter Pan. The concert concluded with a version of the Broadway anthem "Give My Regards To Broadway," which had several audience members clapping their hands and singing along.
It is obvious that these talented people are enjoying this whirlwind tour. The fun they are having comes through in their performances. But they never lose sight of the message that fuels the tour. As Paige Price put so well, "All Americans became New Yorkers that day."