On Wednesday night, July 27, at the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Convention Hall in Philadelphia, a cavalcade of Broadway stars performed the charity single “What the World Needs Now is Love,” a song that has been recorded and repurposed by more than 100 artists since it was written and composed by Hal David and Burt Bacharach in 1965. Among those included were six-time Tony winner Audra McDonald, Tony-winning actors Brian Stokes Mitchell and Ben Vereen, Tony nominees Montego Glover and Adrienne Warren, as well as Darius de Haas and Roz Ryan.
After a poignant presentation from various victims of gun violence that included former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, Glover and Warren were among the singers taking on the majority of vocals, bringing the audience to their feet with their soulful vocal runs. McDonald received the biggest applause, even bigger than the “Cagney & Lacey” micro-reunion between the show’s former headliners, Tyne Daly, Sharon Gless. Also singing various lyrics were Wilson Cruz, Olga Merediz, Jon Viktor Corpuz, Mary Ann Hu, Michael Longoria, B.D. Wong, Idina Menzel, Debra Messing, Darren Criss, Kristen Bell, Stephanie J. Block, Len Cariou, Michael Urie, Richard Kind, Tom Wopat, Ann Hampton Callaway, Liz Callaway, Nicholas Callaway Foster, Michelle Collins, Anika Larsen, Margaret Stallings, Eve Plumb, Michael Urie, Carmen Cusak, Melissa Errico, Janet Metz, as well as musical arranger Seth Rudetsky, his partner James Wesley, and their daughter, Juli Wesley.
With the DNC appearance, this includes yet another high-profile live performance of the charity single that was first recorded in response to the shooting massacre at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando that occurred on June 12, which resulted in the deaths of 49 people and became the deadliest incident of violence against LGBT people in U.S. history.
Originally recorded by rock ‘n roll singer-songwriter Jackie DeShannon, the latest cover and charity single rose to the #1 slot on the iTunes chart, surpassed the Justin Timberlake disco-pop number, “Can’t Stop The Feeling!” The single also landed on the Billboard Hot 100. Since premiering on June 19, the promotional music video has drawn over 1 million views. One hundred percent of the proceeds from the song’s sales went to the LGBT Center of Central Florida.
The performance comes one day after Tony winner Billy Porter, funny lady Aisha Tyler and songwriter Esther Dean were featured in the star-studded all-vocals music video rendition of Rachel Platten’s of “Fight Song.” Produced by Elizabeth Banks, the single also featured Alan Cumming, America Ferrera, Ben Platt, Chrissie Fit, Connie Britton, Ellen Greene, Eva Longoria, Garrett Clayton, Hana Mae Lee, Ian Somerholder, Idina Menzel, Jaime King, Jane Fonda, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, John Michael Higgens, Josh Lucas, Julie Bowen, Kathy Najimy, Kelly Jackle, Kristin Chenoweth, Mandy Moore, Mary McCormack, Mary-Louise Parker, Mike Thompkins, Nikki Read, Renee Fleming, Rob Reiner, Shelley Regner, TR Knight and Sia.
After the song, the crowd chanted “Love Trumps Hate.”
Erika Dickerson-Despenza Addresses Flint Water Crisis with Cullud Wattah
There is limited seating left for Erika Dickerson-Despenza’s new play CULLUD WATTAH at The Public Theater. Opening today, Thursday, March 7th and running until Sunday, March 10th in the Public Studio is about three generations of Black women living through the current water crisis in Flint, Michigan.
“It’s been 936 days since Marion’s family has had clean water. When local activists file a class action lawsuit against the city, Marion—a third-generation employee at General Motors—must decide how best to support her two daughters, sister, and mother while lead seeps into the community, their home, and their bodies. As corrosive memories and secrets rise among them, the family wonders if they’ll ever be able to filter out the truth.”
2018 Relentless Award Semifinalist and poet-playwright makes her Public Theater debut with CULLUD WATTAH directed by Lilly Award winner Candis C. Jones; the cast includes Deonna Bouye (Marion), Alana Raquel Bowers (Reesee), Caroline Stefanie Clay (Big Ma), Nikiya Mathis (Ainee), and Kara Young (Plum).
The creative team includes Production Stage Manager Gregory Fletcher, Stage Manager Priscilla Villanueva, and Movement Director Adesola Osakalumi. Along with scenic design by Arnulfo Maldonado, Costume Design by Ntokozo Fuzunina Kunene, lighting Design by Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew, and sound design by Megan Culley
We believe in this work so much we’re giving away 4 tickets to the performances on March 10th. 2 tickets to the matinee and two the evening performance thanks to our founder Drew Shade and actress/playwright Jocelyn Bioh. Go to our Instagram to find out how!
Also, find out more about how you can help the Flint Water Crisis and support this show HERE.
Listen to Erika talk about her work on an episode of Off Book Podcast below
Surely Goodness and Mercy by Chisa Hutchinson Begins Off-Broadway
Performances begin today, Tuesday February 26th, for the New York premiere of Surely Goodness and Mercy, presented by Keen Company. A story about an exceptional boy living a troubled life in Newark, NJ who does a good deed for an often unnoticed person. Sarita Covington, Jay Mazyck, Brenda Pressley, Courtney Thomas, and Cezar Williams star under Jessi D. Hill’s direction.
Set in an under-funded public school in Newark, Surely Goodness and Mercy by rising playwright Chisa Hutchinson, tells the story of a bible-toting boy with a photographic memory who befriends the cantankerous old lunch lady. Against all odds, Tino and Bernadette help each other through the mess of growing up and growing old.
Surely Goodness and Mercy has spent the last year charming audiences across the country: “Notably absent from Hutchinson’s frank and sobering story: cynicism” – Chicago Reader; “(Surely Goodness and Mercy has) a soul-stirring quality, touching audiences with its sincerity” – Daily Utah Chronicle; “it’s impossible not to like it” – The Salt Lake Tribune. Now, Keen is honored to bring this big-hearted new play to New York for the first time.
Performances for this limited Off-Broadway engagement of Surely Goodness and Mercy will continue through Saturday, April 13th only, with opening night set for Wednesday, March 13th.