I turned to the “Arts, Briefly” section of Thursday’s The New York Times to discover that Nick Jonas will be joining the cast of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” in late January.
The news surpised my son, Christopher, who hadn’t realized that Jonas performed on Broadway (“Annie Get Your Gun,” “Beauty and the Beast,” and “Les Miserables”) long before the Jonas Brothers went big time.
My daughter, Lizabeth, will likely laugh it off as just another case of mom being the last to know. She’s a proud Arizona baby turned New Yorker who’s already taken in two musicals since starting acting studies at Pace University — the final performance of “Catch Me If You Can” on Broadway and the Off-Broadway revival of “Rent.”
Tonight she attended a staged reading of Sara Tuft’s “110 Stories” at NYU’s Skirball Center for the Performing Arts in Manhattan. Tuft describes it as “the human side of history, without politics and agenda, giving voice to those who experienced 9.11 directly.” In short, it’s “a love letter to New York City.”
The benefit performance featured distinguished film, television and stage actors. Think Alec Baldwin, Katie Holmes, Aasif Mandvi, Kathleen Turner. Also Tony Shaloub, Melissa Leo, Samuel L. Jackson, Cynthia Nixon and many others. Even Ben Vereen, who performs at our very own Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts in November. There’ll be another staged reading tomorrow night.
Proceeds will help The New York Says Thank You Foundation, started in 2003 at the suggestion of a five year old boy, to transform a day of tragedy into a day of national volunteer service. The foundation sends volunteers throughout the country to assist with rebuilding after disasters. www.skirballcenter.nyu.edu and www.newyorksaysthankyou.org.
Lizabeth enjoyed the work, but wasn’t terribly thrilled with the shutterbugs who tooks photos and sent texts during much of the performance. The night was about remembering 9/11, she told me — not tacky celebrity sightings.
Seems she experienced a bit of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week while walking through Soho after the show, where the streets were crowded with folks doing the “Fashion’s Night Out” thing. I was at home watching an episode of “Project Runway” featuring contestants photographing Times Square neon for fashion inspiration.
Lizabeth will be heading to Times Square on Friday to attend a Broadway League production titled “Broadway Unites: 9/11 Day of Service and Remembrance.” It’s the encore of a performance given a decade ago to demonstrate the solidarity and optimism of New York and the nation.
Lizabeth was thrilled to learn that the casts of several Broadway shows are scheduled to participate — “Anything Goes,” “The Addams Family,” “Billy Elliot The Musical,” “The Book of Mormon,” “Chicago,” “Godspell,” “Mamma Mia!,” “Memphis,” “Rock of Ages,” “Jersey Boys,” “Priscilla Queen of the Desert,” “Sister Act” and “Stomp.”
Also Matthew Broderick, Harvey Fierstein, Sutton Foster, Joel Grey, Bebe Neuwirth and Brooke Shields. Neuwirth, by the way, performs at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts in October. www.scottsdaleperformingarts.com.
Several additional participants were announced just today — Nick Adams, Kara DioGuardi, Josh Gad, Montego Glover, Nikki James, Chad Kimball, Darlene Love, Rory O’Malley, Brad Oscar, Hunter Parrish, Andrew Rannells, Roger Rees and Tony Sheldon.
They’ll be singing Kander & Ebb’s “New York, New York” in Duffy Square at 4pm, accompanied by a 29-piece live orchestra. Operatic tenor NYPD officer Daniel Rodriguez will perform “God Bless America” and several fine folks will offer remarks.
Think Paul Lubin (chairman of the Broadway League), Bob Wankel (chairman of the Times Square Alliance), and David Payne and Jay Winuk (founders of My Good Deed). Also actor Joel Grey. The performance is being directed and choreographed by Denis Jones, a participant in the original 2001 performance. Musical direction in by Phil Reno.
They’re all participating in support of the “9/11 Day of Service and Remembrance” — inspired by the “I Will” campaign that encourages people to perform good deeds, support charitable causes and volunteer as a tribute to 9/11 victims and survivors — plus “those who rose in service in response to the attacks.” www.broadwayleague.com and www.ilovenytheater.com/broadwayunites.
It’s a remarkable time to be a new New Yorker. To witness the rebuilding of Ground Zero. To hear the stories of victims, families, first responders and everyday heroes. To celebrate the arts that reflect the best in humanity. To embrace the diversity and democracy no act of terror will ever destroy.
Note: During “Broadway Week” (Sept 18-30, 2011 ) you can enjoy 2 for 1 tickets to many Broadway shows.
Coming up: The 9/11 Memorial opens in NYC