Featuring a roster of Tony-winning actors, the evening of performance will benefit the Center for Reproductive Rights-a global legal advocacy organization dedicated to advancing reproductive rights as a fundamental human right.
Plimpton, a three-time Tony Award nominee who made her Broadway debut in 2004's Sixteen Wounded, was most recently seen on Broadway in a revival of Edward Albee's A Delicate Balance. She also appeared in Tom Stoppard's three-part historical epic The Coast of Utopia, Shakespeare's rarely performed Cymbeline and Caryl Churchill's Top Girls, as well as the musical Pal Joey and the New York Philharmonic production of Company, Stephen Sondheim's musical examination of marriage.
Plimpton has also served on the board of advocates for Planned Parenthood for many years and is the founder of A is For, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing women's reproductive rights and ending the stigma against abortion care.
The lineup for the May 3 concert includes two-time Tony Award winner Patti LuPone (Gypsy, Evita), Howard McGillin (Gigi, Anything Goes), Tony Award winner Tonya Pinkins (Caroline, or Change), Tony Award winner Lena Hall (Hedwig and the Angry Inch), Montego Glover (It Shoulda Been You), Jesse Tyler Ferguson (The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, "Modern Family"), Katie Finneran (It's Only a Play; Promises, Promises), Rebecca Luker (Cinderella, Mary Poppins), Brooks Ashmanskas (Something Rotten, Bullets Over Broadway), Jessica Vosk (Finding Neverland, The Bridges of Madison County) and more.
"We're trying to put a human face on this issue," Plimpton told Playbill.com about Broadway Acts for Women. "This affects us directly. It shouldn't just be about controlling women's sexual lives. This is about people's lives. I'm incredibly impressed and proud to know the people participating in this event. I'm aware that it's a controversial issue, and we're working to make it non-controversial. The more people who participate and speak out, the more that's possible."
Citing the high rate of maternal mortality in the United States as well as the increase in HIV rates following the closures of Planned Parenthood centers in certain states, Plimpton emphasized the importance of education and preventative care as well as access to abortion. "It’s about women, but it’s about human rights, really. These reproductive rights issues don’t only affect cisgendered [non-transgender] women. They affect trans people, they affect families in general and they affect other areas of general health care... When we make abortion harder and harder to get, we also make these other critical services harder and harder to get."
Plimpton described the efforts as a "triangulation," including strategy, method and philosophy, and she likened it to the efforts devoted to marriage equality, saying, "We want to learn from that movement, and recognize they have a lot to teach us, and there are a lot of intersections between women's reproductive rights and LGBTQ rights. There's a tremendous amount of difficulty that trans people have in obtaining reproductive health care without stigma and without limitations and access."
The subjects of marriage equality and women's rights were a topic of discussion following Patricia Arquette's acceptance speech at the Academy Awards. Her remarks drew criticism from many in the media, but Plimpton said she sympathized with the pressure of the moment, adding, "Not all of us are used to speaking publicly on the fly about these things. They're very complex issues, and we have to take a lot of things into consideration when we speak about them and sometimes in a moment like that, when you just won an Oscar, your adrenaline takes over. It might be harder to be thoroughly clear and get every point right. But I think the dialogue of the conversation inspired is nothing but healthy and good. And for that, anyway, I'm very grateful. We should encourage women to speak up about these issues."
Along with musical performances, an auction and door prizes, the evening will also provide an opportunity for the audience to bid on a surprise karaoke performance, Plimpton said.
"We've compiled a list of really awesome, really popular and some really surprising songs that the audience can choose from. Whoever wins the bidding gets to pick what the artist sings from that list. Well… who knows? Maybe Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Brooks will do a duet of 'Endless Love'? Maybe Howard McGillin will sing 'Suspicious Minds'? They don't know. They have no rehearsal." Founded in 2012, A is For is a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing women's reproductive rights and ending the stigma against abortion care. A is For envisions a world in which every woman has access to the full spectrum of reproductive choice. For more information, visit aisfor.org.
(Carey Purcell is the Features Editor of Playbill.com. Her work appears in the news, feature and video sections of Playbill.com as well as in the pages of Playbill magazine. Follow her on Twitter @PlaybillCarey.)