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.)
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
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!
All photos by Jay Brady Photography.
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.org. Dates 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!
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!
It’s been ten years since the unforgettable one-night-only 20th Anniversary performance of Dreamgirls, the Tony Award–winning musical by librettist Tom Eyen and composer Henry Krieger. The event, which was a benefit for The Actors Fund, took place September 24, 2001, at The Ford Center (now The Foxwoods Theatre) — not long after the 9/11 attacks. Actors Fund President Brian Stokes Mitchell, who had a cameo in the show, began the evening with a pre-show speech to remind everyone that, in the face of the horrible events everyone in New York City had just witnessed, it was more important than ever to remind ourselves that the show must go on.
Under the Musical and Artistic Direction of Seth Rudetsky, the evening starred the incredible trio of Audra McDonald, Heather Headley and Lillas White, and also featured appearances by Malcom Gets, Darius de Haas, Norm Lewis, Alice Ripley, Brad Oscar, Billy Porter, Emily Skinner, James Stovall, Tamara Tunie and Patrick Wilson. Danny Herman and Brenda Braxton co-directed and co-choreographed the evening. Nonesuch Records released a recording of the event, which is still available.
The event raised over a million dollars for The Fund, and just a few of the supporters who came out for the show included Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker, Betty Buckley, Celeste Holm and Patti LuPone.
Check out this preview performance by Audra, Heather, and Lillas on The Rosie O’Donnell Show:
It’s not too late to grab tickets for this weekend’s Tony Awards Party at the Skirball Center in Los Angeles, which will honor the incredible actor Hal Holbrook with The Actors Fund‘s Julie Harris Award for Lifetime Achievement. The gathering not only features the official Tony live feed–of course!–but also a special program hosted by Marilu Henner and featuring Sean Penn, who will present Mr. Holbrook with his award.
Be sure to view Marilu Henner’s appearance on Good Day LA, during which she talked up the Tony Party (skip to 2:10 to hear her promo The Fund!), and check out these photos of previous Julie Harris Award honorees from our archives.Julie Harris Award Honorees: 2011 Hal Holbrook 2010 Brian Stokes Mitchell 2009 Chita Rivera 2008 Tommy Tune 2007 Jerry Herman 2006 Liza Minnelli 2005 Stockard Channing 2004 James Earl Jones 2003 Rita Moreno 2002 Carol Channing 2001 Lauren Bacall 2000 Tyne Daly 1999 Charles Durning 1998 Gwen Verdon 1997 Julie Harris
The Actors Fund’s 2011 Gala Honors Bebe Neuwirth, Al Pacino, and Michael J. Stengel & Marriott International
On Monday night, stars, supporters and friends of The Actors Fund gathered at New York’s Marriott Marquis for the 2011 Actors Fund Gala. The evening celebrated this year’s two Medal of Honor winners, Bebe Neuwirth and Michael J. Stengel & Marriott International, as well as Al Pacino, recipient of the Lee Strasberg Artistic Achievement Award. Wonderfully, the event raised more than $1,000,000 to support The Actors Fund’s programs and services.
Check out the video below for a peek at the evening’s highlights!