The Broadway community convened October 9 at Manhattan’s Green Room 42 to raise their voices Houston’s theatre district in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. Donations can still be made by visiting HelpHoustonTheaterDistrict.org. Watch the Facebook livestream below.
Hosted by Playbill’s Seth Rudetsky and directed by David Perlow, B'way❤Houston: A Concert To Rebuild Houston's Downtown Theater District helped raise money for the various performing arts organizations that suffered damage during the August Hurricane, including the Alley Theatre, Theatre Under the Stars, and Houston Grand Opera.
A number of stage favorites reprised beloved performances of their noteworthy roles during the concert, including Carousel-bound Tony winner Jessie Mueller (singing Carole King’s title number from Beautiful), Frozen star Caissie Levy, who sang Ghost’s “Nothing Stops Another Day” (a song she introduced as “hopeful…about moving through adversity”), Corey Cott (performing the Newsies showstopper “Santa Fe”), and director of the upcoming revival of Once on This Island Michael Arden, who returned to the role of Quasimodo to sing The Hunchback of Notre Dame’s “Out There.”
Additional highlights included Nikki M. James, who channeled her “essence of Judith Light” to sing Alanis Morissette’s “Hand in My Pocket,” The Last 5 Years’ “A Summer in Ohio” from Mean Girls-bound Kate Rockwell, a show-stopping rendition of Man of La Mancha’s “The Impossible Dream” from Tony nominee Phillip Boykin, and a duet from husband-and-wife duo Andy Karl (Tony nominated for his most recent Broadway appearance in Groundhog Day) and Orfeh (soon to return to Broadway in Pretty Woman).
Many performers shared personal ties to the Houston theatre community. Darlesia Cearcy, who will appear in the aforementioned Once on This Island revival, is a Houston native, referring to the myriad performing arts organizations as her “childhood playground.” “That’s my family down there,” she said, before performing Once on This Island’s “The Human Heart.”
Jorge Ávila, a Honduran-born violinist, shared how many Honduran-Americans in New Orleans relocated to Houston following Hurricane Katrina, only to experience similar devastation again.
The concert welcomed the Houston-based Theatre Under the Stars’ new artistic director Dan Knechtges, who discussed the resilience of the community: “My very first day down there, I was pulled into a meeting with all of the major arts organizations in Houston…and we met and talked about life, art, and what we were going to do…. The theatre communities are devastated in the physical sense of what they’re going through, however, their spirit is so strong. If you’re coming to Houston, buy a ticket. That is the best thing you can do, and it is going to give you a great experience.”
B'way❤Houston was produced by Perlow and Spring Awakening alum Ali Stroker, founding artistic director and founding managing director, respectively, of ATTENTIONTheatre, as well as Brooke Singer and Houston natives Kenny and Paula Singer.
Kenny Singer has been a representative of Playbill in the Houston area for over 25 years. The home belonging to him and his wife, Paula, was badly damaged as a result of the storm.