By Kenneth Jones
19 Oct 2009
The event will be co-chaired by Jo Sullivan Loesser and Sir Paul McCartney, and hosted by Annette Bening, Kevin McCollum and Jonathan Tisch.
Some tickets are still available through Ticketmaster.com or by calling At (212) 307-4100 or (800) 982-2787. Sponsorship opportunities are also available. Contact The Actors Fund at (212) 221-7300 ext. 133. For updates, please visit www.actorsfund.org.
Jo Sullivan Loesser, co-chair for the concert event, stated, "I'm so honored that so many wonderful stars are paying tribute to Frank at this special evening."
"I was very happy to be asked to attend this special evening," stated Sir Paul McCartney. "As a tribute to a man whose work I greatly admire, I will be singing one of his songs and I'm looking forward to it."
The list of participants as of Oct. 19 includes Laura Benanti, John Bolton, Ashley Brown, Charles Busch, Liz Callaway, Ana Gasteyer, Debbie Gravitte, Hugh Jackman, Judy Kuhn, Liz Larson, Michele Lee, Emily Loesser, Jo Sullivan Loesser, Sir Paul McCartney, Audra McDonald, John McMartin, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Julia Murney, Phyllis Newman, Steven Pasquale, Noah Racey, Chita Rivera, Christopher Sieber, John Stamos, Nia Vardalos and Patrick Wilson.
The evening will be directed and choreographed by Christopher Gattelli (South Pacific, Sunday in the Park with George, Altar Boyz) with musical direction by Brad Haak (Mary Poppins).
Composer-lyricist Frank Loesser wrote pop songs, film songs and theatre songs alone and with others. He supplied both music and lyrics for such varied works as Guys & Dolls, Where's Charley?, The Most Happy Fella and How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying. Born June 29, 1910, in New York City, he wrote his first song at the age of six. In 1931, he teamed with William Schuman (future president of Juilliard), resulting in his first published song, "In Love with a Memory of You." In 1936, Loesser and composer Irving Actman contributed five songs to The Illustrator's Show. It closed after five performances, but landed them a Hollywood contract. There Loesser provided lyrics for the music of such greats as Jule Styne, Hoagy Carmichael, and Burton Lane, producing hits such as "I Don't Want to Walk Without You," "Heart and Soul", "Two Sleepy People," and the 1948 Academy Award winner, "Baby, It's Cold Outside," for which he also supplied the music.
In the midst of his stage work, Loesser returned to Hollywood and created one of his best loved scores for the film Hans Christian Andersen, which featured "Wonderful Copenhagen," "Anywhere I Wander," "The Inch Worm" and "Thumbelina."
Since Loesser's untimely death in 1969, The Most Happy Fella has been revived on Broadway and at the New York City Opera (where it has become part of the permanent repertory); How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying returned in 1995 (and is being developed for a commercial run in the coming year), Guys and Dolls won the 1992 Tony Award for Best Revival, and returned in 2009 for its fourth run on Broadway. In 1999, Frank Loesser was honored by the U.S. Postal Service with a postage stamp bearing his likeness.
In New York City, The Actors Fund has produced a string of successful one-night-only benefits including the acclaimed 20th Anniversary concert of Dreamgirls (recorded on Nonesuch Records), Funny Girl with Sutton Foster, Jane Krakowski and Kristin Chenoweth, Chess with Josh Groban, Hair with Jennifer Hudson (recorded on Ghostlight Records, Grammy nomination), On the Twentieth Century with Douglas Sills and Marin Mazzie, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas with Emily Skinner and Terrence Mann, Brian Stokes Mitchell at Carnegie Hall and last year's all-star reading of All About Eve with Annette Bening and Keri Russell.
The Actors Fund is a national human services organization that helps all professionals in performing arts and entertainment. The Fund, which supports actors and performers and everyone behind the scenes who works in theatre, film, TV, music, dance, radio and opera, is a safety net, providing social services and emergency assistance, health services, employment and training programs and housing support for those who are in need, crisis or transition. Learn more about The Actors Fund at www.actorsfund.org.