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Run/Walk Wednesday: Team Captain Caroline Parrone!

March 27, 2013 Comments off

Caroline's mother Donna, her grandmother Joyce & Caroline.

Caroline’s mother Donna, her grandmother Joyce & Caroline.

Every Wednesday leading up to the Entertainment Industry Foundation’s Revlon Run/Walk (May 4 in New YorkMay 11 in Los Angeles), we’re sharing memories and celebrating our members! Today we chat with this year’s team captain, Special Events Associate (and Young Professionals guru) Caroline Parrone.

Actors Fund: Are you walking in “honor” or “memory” of someone special in this year’s EIF Revlon Run/Walk?
Caroline Parrone: I am walking in honor of all the women in my life who have been affected by cancer, including my great-grandmother Nathalie Rosa, my grandmother Carita and my husband’s grandmother Mimi.

It is so scary to come from a family line of women who have been affected by cancer (on both my mother’s and father’s sides), and I walk in hopes that my mother, cousins, maybe future daughters and I will live to see a cure.

AF: Why do you walk with The Actors Fund Team?
CP: Not only do I fully believe in and support the work of the Phyllis Newman Women’s Health Initiative, but I also enjoy this event so much that I asked to be Team Captain while our regular TC Amy Picar spends time with her new baby!   

AF: Do you fundraise for RRW, or have anything special planned this year?
CP: I love fundraising for this event! Last year I knit a little something for each person that donated to my page. This year I am creating a small piece of paper art for each person who donates. Just a little thank you to my supporters.

AF: Run or Walk, and why?
CP: I tend to walk this 5k, mostly so I can chat and snap photos.

AF: We’re taking a vote… Suggest a Theme Song for this years’ team?
CP: “Think,” Aretha Franklin

The EIF Revlon Run/Walk is an annual event that raises money and awareness for the fight against women’s cancers, and funds raised by The Actors Fund team supports The Phyllis Newman Women’s Health Initiative (PNWHI), created to address the myriad of concerns women face when dealing with a serious medical condition. Help us fight the fight by joining one of our teams (clickhere for NYChere for LA), or making a pledge or donation on behalf of someone who’s walking with us. Your pledge will help fund important research into the cause and cure of women’s cancers, prevention, education and support service programs for those women battling cancer and their families.

The Art of Caring, By David Henry Hwang

November 21, 2012 Comments off

As we gather with friends and family for Thanksgiving, The Actors Fund gives thanks for the countless people who comprise our Actors Fund Family: our Board of Trustees and committee members, all of whom are incredibly dedicated to our cause; our tireless volunteers; the unions, performers, and behind-the-scenes people who make our benefit events possible; our incredible staff, which is always there for those in need; the ongoing support we receive from the entire community and from Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS; and of course, our fans and clients — we’re always here for you! Finally, we are especially thankful for those who so generously donate to The Fund. You ensure we can fulfill our mission, especially in times of crisis. As the region begins to recover from Superstorm Sandy, wecontinue to hear from hundreds of people throughout the Tri-State area who need emergency help. As of today, we’ve received 497 requests for assistance, and distributed more than $124,000 so far for things like food, clothing, medicine and medical care, temporary shelter and relocation expenses. On this special day, we ask you all to give thanks with us, as together we continue the Art of Caring. (If you are in need of assistance post-Sandy, you can apply for our Emergency Financial Assistance here. You can also donate to our relief efforts here.)

David Henry Hwang

On this Thanksgiving, we thought we’d share this beautiful message by Tony-winning playwright David Henry Hwang (one of The Actors Fund‘s newest Trustees), which appeared in the program for Brian Stokes Mitchell’s Simply Broadway benefit for The Fund and Lincoln Center on November 7, 2012.

I was recently honored to become a Trustee of The Actors Fund, joining my good friend and fellow board member Brian Stokes Mitchell, whose artistry enriches tonight’s very special evening. Stokes embodies the spirit of our organization, with the size of his talent matched only by the generosity of his heart. For everyone involved with The Actors Fund works each day to practice the Art of Caring.

Michael Feinstein visits with a resident at The Fund’s Lillian Booth Actors Home in Englewood, New Jersey. Credit: Jay Brady Photography.

You see that same special spirit in Bebe Neuwirth, founder of The Fund’s Dancers’ Resource, which helps us embrace the dance community with much-needed services. Or Phyllis Newman, whose Women’s Health Initiative allows The Fund to serve women in health crisis. Every one of our staff members embraces this important mission, giving of themselves to provide the programs and services that keep our nation’s artists healthy and creative. Like the very generous Adrienne Arsht, our friends at Lincoln Center and each of you here tonight, we love the performing arts. But true love also inspires a sense of responsibility. Every work of art is born of risk, and artist’s lives are filled with disappointments as well as joys. That’s why it’s so important that you are giving back and supporting those in need; your presence here tonight inspires all of us.

Medical Director Dr. Jim Spears visits with a patient at The Fund’s Al Hirschfeld Free Health Clinic in NYC.

Since 1882, workers in the performing arts have turned during hard times to The Actors Fund, where they have been served with respect and compassion. The Fund began by helping performers who found themselves stranded far from home, taking care of the sick, disabled and elderly, and providing dignified burials and funerals. Tonight’s event helps preserve this safe haven, and ensure that it continues to meet the needs of today.

How? Through emergency financial assistance in times of need and a wide range of social services. We assist in securing affordable health insurance and also offer free health care. We help our colleagues develop secondary and parallel careers outside the industry through employment and training services. Our youth services in Los Angeles help young performers create healthy and balanced lives. Our housing programs provide affordable and supportive places to live and work. And The Lillian Booth Home in New Jersey offers the highest quality skilled nursing care and assisted living to people who have dedicated their lives to the arts.

A resident outside The Fund’s Dorothy Ross Friedman Residence in Manhattan, our 30-story high-rise that offers affordable, supportive housing for low income working professionals, seniors and people living with HIV/AIDS.

Today, we’ve transformed into a national human services organization that helps everyone – not just actors and performers, but also writers, and all those who work “behind the scenes” – in theatre, film, dance, music, TV, opera and radio. The Fund provides close to two dozen programs that help more than 12,800 entertainment and performing arts professionals per year.

Tonight, you too embody the spirit of compassion, and practice the Art of Caring, which has distinguished The Fund for over a century. You’re supporting not only The Actors Fund and Lincoln Center, but also helping to maintain a safety net for everyone who works in the performing arts. On behalf of our Chairman and our entire community, welcome, thank you, and enjoy the show!

Brian Stokes Mitchell: Simply Broadway…for Sandy

November 8, 2012 Comments off

We’d like to take a moment to thank our fantastic – and always generous – Chariman, Brian Stokes Mitchell! Last night, he lit up Alice Tully Hall for a gala benefit for The Actors Fund and Lincoln Center, which was the first of his Give Service benefit concerts, a five city tour that will raise funds for The Fund and each of the theatres hosting the concerts. We thank Stokes for his amazing gift of music in this especially difficult time in the Tri-State area.

Last night, in light of recent events, Stokes decided to highlight the work The Fund is doing to help everyone in entertainment who’s been affected by Superstorm Sandy. The Actors Fund continues to work non-stop to make its services available to those whose lives have been torn apart because of this tragic event – as of today, we’ve received more than 400 calls for help. If you need assistance – or know someone in the business who does – tell them to contact us! We know it’s going to take months for things to recover.

In the midst of the snowy nor’easter, Stokes welcomed the audience with, “Good evening, you intrepid theatre-goers!,” and talked about how he was happy to be part of an event that couldn’t be stopped by the extreme weather, which was a special alliance two of his two favorite organizations.  Stokes himself couldn’t be stopped, performing in socks because he had a “slight altercation with a chair” in his apartment, which broke his toe.  “You should see the chair,” he said!

Marvin Laird was the musical director for the evening, which comprised a wonderfully rich setlist:
1/ Feeling Good, from The Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd
2/ The title song from Man of La Mancha
3/ C’est Moi, Camelot
4/ How to Handle a Woman, Camelot
5/ Stars, Les Miz
6/ If I Were a Rich Man, Fiddler on the Roof
7/ Soliloquy, Carousel
8/ Finishing the Hat, Sunday in the Park with George
9/ What Kind of Fool Am I, Stop The World – I Want To Get Off
10/ A Woman is a Sometime Thing, Porgy & Bess
11/ It Ain’t Necessarily So, Porgy & Bess
12/ Sorry, Grateful, Company
13/ Some Enchanted Evening, South Pacific
Encore #1/ Impossible Dream, Man of La Mancha (which he sang especially for Lincoln Center Trustee Adrienne Arsht, whose generous support of Lincoln Center helped to fund Alice Tully Hall’s brand new Adrienne Arsht Stage)
Encore #2/ Some Other Time, On the Town

Stokes, Adrienne Arsht, & David Hasselhoff

And we’re so proud of Stokes, and incredibly grateful for everything he continues to do for The Fund and the entertainment and performing arts community. We’re also incredibly pleased that he’s getting great press, not only for this benefit project, but also for the Simply Broadway album itself! Check out the NY Daily News story on the project (view the pdf here), and one of the cuts from the record made USA Today‘s Playlist this week.

We especially thank the wonderful Lincoln Center staff, and the fabulous audience, which braved the height of the big nor’easter to come out and support The Actors Fund and Lincoln Center!

Brian Stokes Mitchell’s new Simply Broadway album is available now! You can download it from iTunes, order it from Amazon, or support The Fund by buying Collectors Edition benefit copies from The Actors Fund Store for $15, or copies autographed by Stokes for $25!

To stay up-to-date on Stokes’ news and for information on his upcoming Give Service concerts as they’re announced, visit his website, follow him on Twitter, and like him on Facebook.

All photos by Jay Brady Photography.

Stokes & Musical Director Marvin Laird take a bow.

Stokes In Concert – To Support The Fund & Lincoln Center!

October 18, 2012 Comments off

Stokes during his 2007 Carnegie Hall benefit for The Fund. Photo by Anita & Steve Shevett.

On October 31, Brian Stokes Mitchell (our fabulously talented, Tony Award-winning Chairman of the Board) takes the Alice Tully Hall stage for a gala evening to benefit The Actors Fund and Lincoln Center. Stokes will host this very special evening, which features cocktails and dinner, as well as his performance of songs from his brand-new album of classics, Simply Broadway, which will have just hit the shelves the day before (it’s currently available for preorder on iTunes and CDBaby). Check out the video below, in which Stokes shares a little more about the recording.

This performance kicks off Stokes’ five-city charitable concert tour, for which he has selected five non-profit venues across the country where he’ll perform in concert, and at least 50% of the proceeds will be shared between The Actors Fund and each theatre. Each show is designed to promote cooperation and giving, and emphasizes the importance of the arts in the lives of people everywhere. Stokes intends for this series to encourage people in all occupations and professions to partner in this manner to help sustain the national philanthropic spirit.

A longtime champion of promoting a better community through the arts, Stokes received  the 2012 Outstanding Contributions to the Arts Award from Americans for the Arts on October 15. Congrats, Stokes!

Tickets for the October 31 Lincoln Center are $250 for the cocktail hour plus performance, and $125 for the performance only (just use code AF50). For tickets and more information, please visit the Alice Tully Hall Box Office at Broadway at 65th Street, call CenterCharge at 212.721.6500 or visit lincolncenter.orgDates and locations for the remainder of Stokes’ benefit tour will be announced shortly! To stay up-to-date on all things Stokes, follow him on Twitter, and like him on Facebook!

Thanks To Everyone Who Helped Make Our 2012 Gala A Success!

May 24, 2012 Comments off

Thanks to The Actors Fund’s 2012 Gala honorees Jerry Stiller & Anne Meara, Harry Belafonte and David Steiner! Photo by Lyn Hughes Photography.

Everyone in The Actors Fund family is still riding high from Monday night’s incredibly wonderful Gala, during which we honored David Steiner and Jerry Stiller & Anne Meara with our Medal of Honor, and Harry Belafonte with The Lee Strasberg Artistic Achievement Award. We’ll be posting video highlights of the evening soon, so keep an eye out for updates!

We are incredibly grateful to the many, many people who contributed to the evening’s success: Angela Lansbury, for opening the evening; Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and Douglas Steiner for honoring Medal of Honor awardee David Steiner; the Tony nominated star of End of the Rainbow Michael Cumpsty for making a special appeal for donations with some help from his co-star and co-nominee Tracie Bennett; Annette Bening for her amazing Actors Fund PSA; comic treasures Julie Halston, Charles Busch, Jason Alexander, Phyllis Newman & Lewis J. Stadlen, Ben Stiller, and Oscar winner Christopher Plummer for their hilarious and thoughtful tributes to Stiller & Meara; and Carmen deLavallade, Marge Champion, Tyne Daly, Alan and Marilyn Bergman, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Drum Circle and Judith Clurman’s Essential Voices USA, and The Honorable David Dinkins for their moving tributes to Harry Belafonte. Extra-special thanks go to our producers Abby Schroeder and Michael Kerker for putting on such a wonderfully moving and entertaining show!

And finally, we thank our honorees for their dedication to the entertainment industry, their commitment of social justice, and their support of The Actors Fund. We’ll also be posting their not-to-be-missed acceptance speeches, but in the meantime, here’s a bit of Stiller & Meara on Friday’s Morning Joe – we’re grateful they took some time to speak out for The Fund!

There’s Nothing Like “Nothing Like A Dame”

March 14, 2012 Comments off

As we prepare for 2011’s Nothing Like A Dame — the 17th annual installment of the always-unforgettable benefit for The Actors Fund’s Phyllis Newman Women’s Health Initiative (PNWHI) — we keep finding incredible photos from DAMES past…which makes us even more excited for March 26th! Check out a few of our latest finds, then head on over to our site for more information and to purchase tickets!

A shot from DAME 1997, featuring Phyllis Newman with (l-r) Adolph Green, Mary Rodgers, Paul Libin and Florence Rowe Libin. Photo by Jerry Speier.

The always amazing Julie Andrews sings a number from Victor/Victoria in 1997. Photo by Jerry Speier.

Margo Jefferson and S. Epatha Merkerson in 1997. Photo by Jerry Speier.

Idina Menzel and Marisa Tomei celebrate DAMES 1997. Photo by Jerry Speier.

Audra McDonald in 2009. Photo by Anita Shevett.

Andrea McCardle performs for DAMES 2009. Photo by Anita Shevett.

Bebe Neuwirth in 2009. Photo by Anita Shevett.

Polly Bergen brings down the house in 2010 -- she'll be returning to do the same thing this year! Photo by Jay Brady Photography.

The 17th annual Nothing Like A Dame will take place March 26, 2011, at the Gerald Lynch Theatre. Visit our website to purchase tickets!

Five Musical Questions For The Cast Of Grey’s Anatomy: Chandra Wilson

March 6, 2012 Comments off

On Sunday evening March 18th, at UCLA’s at Royce Hall, cast members from ABC’s hit drama Grey’s Anatomy will gather to perform Grey’s Anatomy: The Songs Beneath the Show, a live musical celebration to benefit The Actors Fund. The show will include selected songs from last season’s Musical Event, music from the Grey’s Anatomy songbook, examine the way music has always been an integral part of the storytelling on Grey’s, and will provide fans with a rare behind the scenes glimpse at how the show is put together.

In anticipation of the show, we asked cast members to answer a few musical questions, and here’s what Chandra Wilson (a.k.a. Miranda Bailey) had to say.

Actors Fund: Name your favorite Broadway or movie musical of all time. Chandra Wilson: Broadway: Man of LaMancha! I just love that story. And movie musical: The adaptation of Cinderella. It was done so well.

AF: Country or rock and roll? Why? CW: I’m an old musical theatre fan. In my fantasies, I’m a legit soprano.

AF: What’s on your iPod these days? CW: A little bit of everything!  But Broadway soundtracks:  Caroline, or Change, The Color Purple and In the Heights.

AF: Do you play a musical instrument? Which one(s)? CW: I act like I can play the piano. Right hand only.

AF: Can you tell us a song you’ll be singing on March 18? CW: I believe I’m singing on Chasing Cars, How to Save a Life, Wait and Everywhere I Go.

Click here to purchase tickets for March 18th’s Grey’s Anatomy: The Songs Beneath The Show. You will be redirected to ticketmaster.com’s website.