By Andrew Gans
10 Sep 2004
Meanwhile, the cast for the Sept. 20 benefit for the Actors' Fund of America continues to expand. As of press time, the stellar company will include Shoshana Bean, Laura Benanti, Wayne Brady, Kathy Brier, Gavin Creel, Darius de Haas, Lea DeLaria, Harris Doran, Raul Esparza, Harvey Fierstein, Hunter Foster, Ana Gasteyer, Annie Golden, Ann Harada, Jackie Hoffman, Ledisi, Norm Lewis, Brandi Chavonne Massey, Michael McKean, Idina Menzel, Euan Morton, Julia Murney, Nancy Opel, Orfeh, Adam Pascal, Billy Porter, Jai Rodriguez, RuPaul, Shayna Steele, John Tartaglia, Toxic Audio and Lillias White.
They will also be joined onstage by Meredith Akins, Aliane Baquerot, Jerad Bortz, Isaac Calpito, Stuart Capps, Paul Castree, Kate Chapman, Bobby Daye, Aisha de Haas, Mary Faber, Jennifer Foote, Julie Garnye, Chris Ghelfi, Lucia Giannetta, Brian M. Golub, MaryAnn Hu, Naomi Kakuk, Trent Armand Kendall, Kenway Kua, Jason S. Little, Julie Lyke, J. Elaine Marcos, Orville Mendoza, DeQuina Moore, Anisha Nagarajan, Darius Nichols, Eliseo Roman, Nell Snaidas, Shanna Vanderwerker, Jessica Walker, Brooke Wendle, Jason Weston, Schele Williams, Gustavo Wons and Christopher Zelno.
The brainchild of musical director Seth Rudetsky, Hair follows all-star concerts of Dreamgirls, Funny Girl and, most recently, Chess. The one-night-only event will be held at the New Amsterdam Theatre on West 42nd Street.
In a May interview with Playbill On-Line, Rudetsky said, "Hair was the first Broadway show I ever saw. Every single song is amazing. I'm obsessed with it! I'm obsessed with the music and with the lyrics. I'm working closely with [Hair composer] Galt MacDermot, and we're trying to get members of the film's original band to play the concert."
Rudetsky said the cast will be very large with more than one actor playing a particular role. "I really try to pick shows that have as much music as possible. Hair has such great music that you can really spread the wealth. It may be one person per note!"
Devanand Janki and Christopher Gattelli will co-direct and co-choreograph the concert. Rudetsky will again serve as musical director and conductor of the orchestra.
The Actors' Fund benefit concert series began with a Dreamgirls concert featuring the talents of Lillias White, Heather Headley and Audra McDonald. The Funny Girl concert boasted a slew of Fanny Brices, including Carolee Carmello, Kristin Chenoweth, Sutton Foster, Ana Gasteyer, Whoopi Goldberg, Spencer Kayden, Jane Krakowski, Judy Kuhn, La Chanze, Ricki Lake, Andrea Martin, Idina Menzel, Julia Murney, Bebe Neuwirth and Lillias White. And this season's Chess concert included pop star Josh Groban and theatre favorites Julia Murney, Adam Pascal, Norm Lewis and Sutton Foster.
Hair focuses on a group of hippies — called The Tribe — in New York City in the late 1960's, and gives voice to their passions and frustrations in loose scenes and interactions, including a rant against war, an embrace of free love (including a group nude scene) and odes to nature, life, drugs and multiculturalism. Book and lyrics are by Gerome Ragni and James Rado, music is by Galt MacDermot. Tom O'Horgan was the original director. Heather MacRae, Melba Moore, Keith Carradine and Joe Morton were among performers in the early Broadway run of the show, at the Biltmore Theatre.
Tickets for the Hair concert are available by calling (212) 221-7300. For more information, go to www.actorsfund.org.
The Actors' Fund of America, a nonprofit organization founded in 1882, provides for the social welfare of all entertainment professionals. Its headquarters and The Aurora Residence are located in New York City, and its nursing home and assisted living care facility are in Englewood, New Jersey.