By Matthew Blank
19 Jun 2012
The second annual event, a tribute to all things Judy Garland, was a benefit for the Ali Forney Center and its mission to assist LGBT homeless youth. It was a special installment of Justin Sayre's variety show, The Meeting*.
Ben Rimalower (Joy, Leslie Kritzer Is Patti LuPone at Les Mouches) directed the 8 PM evening of tributes, skits and signature Garland songs. Lance Horne was musical director, and Jason Wise was choreographer.
The night featured appearances and performances by Tony winner Tonya Pinkins (Jelly's Last Jam; Caroline, or Change), Tony nominees Andrea McArdle (Annie, Beauty and the Beast), Karen Akers (Nine, Grand Hotel) and Howard McGillin (Anything Goes, Phantom of the Opera), as well as Jenn Harris (Silence! The Musical), Jessica Molaskey (Parade, Songs for a New World), Daniel Reichard (Jersey Boys), Ashley Brown (Mary Poppins), Molly Pope (Wonderful Town, Our Hit Parade), recording artist-actress Nellie McKay (Threepenny Opera), writer Michael Musto, Cole Escola ("Jeffery & Cole Casserole"), Frank DeCaro, Colleen McHugh, Bridget Everett, Flotilla DeBarge, Murray Hill, Erin Markey, Dan Fishback and Summer & Eve.
"The work that the Ali Forney Center is crucial to young LGBT people in New York," Sayre said in a statement. "It enables them to thrive and grow in a healthy and warm environment, where they are celebrated for their identity rather than chastised for it. Life may have dealt you a raw hand, but there are people out there to help you through it. In her film roles and in her personal life, Judy Garland embodied an innocence and a resilience that still thrills young and old alike. She had tragedy in her life and yet she continued to give herself to a public that adored her. If Judy Garland was the comeback kid, The Ali Forney Center is the comeback place. I can't imagine a better combination."