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Laura Benanti to host/perform at Oct. 28 Broadway Stands Up for Freedom gala for ACLU in NYC
Posted by: Official_Press_Release 10:55 am EDT 10/15/19

Tony winner LAURA BENANTI to host

ACLU/NYCLU’s 17th annual

“Broadway Stands Up for Freedom” concert

October 28 at Town Hall in NYC

Celia Keenan-Bolger, Eva Price, and Level Forward to be Honored at October 28th Event to Celebrate Women’s and Trans Rights

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.”

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), WÉ 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 MOCKINGBIRD 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 Celia Keenan-Bolger

Celia Keenan-Bolger’s Broadway credits include TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (Tony Award), THE CHERRY ORCHARD, THE GLASS MENAGERIE (Tony nomination; Drama Desk and Dorothy Loudon awards), PETER AND THE STARCATCHER (Tony, Drama Desk and Drama League nominations), LES MISERABLES (Drama Desk nomination), and THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE (Tony nomination; Drama Desk and Theatre World awards). She has many Off-Broadway and regional theater credits, and has appeared in the films DIANE, BREAKABLE YOU, THE VISIT and MARIACHI GRINGO. Her TV credits include BULL, NCIS: NEW ORLEANS, BLUE BLOODS, THE GOOD WIFE, NURSE JACKIE and HEARTLAND.

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.

About the Michael Friedman Award

Michael Friedman was a brilliant theater composer who was deeply committed to civil liberties and civil rights. Known for his work on Gone Missing, which he created with the theater company, The Civilians, and Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson, he also wrote music and lyrics for Fortress of Solitude and Love’s Labour’s Lost for Shakespeare in the Park at the Delacorte Theater among many others. After the 2016 election, Mr. Friedman created The State of the Union Songbook, a body of songs based on interviews with voters. He frequently donated his music to the NYCLU’s annual Broadway Stands Up for Freedom Concert. To honor his memory, his parents, John and Carolyn Friedman, and his sister, Marion Friedman Young, created the Michael Friedman Fund for Voting Rights to support the ACLU’s and NYCLU’s voting rights work.

The Freedom Award was established in 2017 and is awarded to artists who use their art to educate, advocate and inspire people; an award for exceptional contributions as a humanitarian, artist, activist. Past recipients have included Harry Belafonte and Alan Cumming.

About the New York Civil Liberties Union and Broadway Stands Up For Freedom

The New York Civil Liberties Union is one of the nation’s foremost defenders of civil liberties and civil rights. Founded in 1951 as the New York affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union, the NYCLU is a not-for-profit, non-partisan organization with nine offices, including seven chapters and 155,000 members across the state. The NYCLU’s mission is to defend and promote civil liberties and civil rights. We work to ensure that the core values and principles of equality, liberty and due process are more fully and consistently realized in the lives of all New Yorkers. In pursuit of these principles we fight for the dignity of all people, with particular attention to the pervasive and persistent harms of racism.

Broadway Stands Up For Freedom is the largest single fundraising event for the NYCLU. Started seventeen years ago, Broadway Stands Up For Freedom was created by aspiring musical theater actors to highlight social injustices and civil rights issues through song and spoken word. Each year, Broadway’s best illuminates the NYCLU’s and the ACLU’s wins for civil rights and liberties and the struggles that must continue. Past performers have included Tony winners Ben Platt, Tonya Pinkins, Lindsey Mendez, Lena Hall, Gavin Creel, Ruthie Ann Miles and Grammy, Oscar and Tony winner Benj Pasek.
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