Rosie O’Donnell Brings Light After Broadway Goes Dark with a Virtual Actors Fund Benefit | Arts

It was a tragic day when Broadway shut down on Mar. 12 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Theater lovers had been devastated — however extra importantly, the cancellation of performances left casts, crews, and manufacturing groups with out jobs. To offer support throughout such a troublesome time, Rosie O’Donnell, a comic, actress, and writer, introduced again her 25-time Emmy Award-winning “The Rosie O’Donnell Present” for one night time solely. Streamed dwell on YouTube, O’Donnell’s present introduced collectively Broadway stars from previous and current to lift cash for the Actors Fund, a company that helps these within the leisure business. Along with fundraising for a rewarding trigger, the profit showcased unbelievable performers and humanized stars all through the business. Poor wifi connections, struggles with audio, and views into celeb houses felt extra comforting than unprofessional, reminding viewers that the gap between seats and stage, viewers member and performer, will not be as insurmountable because it appears.

John McDaniel, the lead composer and producer of “The Rosie O’Donnell Present,” was the primary visitor of the night time. McDaniel set the showcase on a cheerful observe with a rendition of “We Want a Little Christmas,” cleverly switching the road to “we’d like just a little Rosie.” Many of the friends that adopted saved the tone of the present simply as upbeat, focusing much less on the unfavourable impacts of the virus and extra on the intense future for Broadway after reopening. Even those that had spent months getting ready for premieres solely to have them cancelled days earlier than remained optimistic. Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker, whose present “Plaza Suite” was set to start on Mar. 13, solely had good issues to say about their wholesome household and their gratitude for O’Donnell’s profit. Phrases of encouragement and uplifting songs persevered all through the three-and-a-half-hour present, lightening up unlucky circumstances.

Whereas all the night’s performances had been significant and showcased spectacular vocals, a number of stood out as notably thoughts blowing. Ben Platt serenaded viewers with a efficiency of “Make You Really feel My Love,” effortlessly navigating the big selection and belting out greater notes together with his trademark vibrato. Later, one in every of Platt’s “Expensive Evan Hansen” successors, Jordan Fisher, carried out “For Perpetually” from the musical. Fisher’s expertise radiated as he sang your entire music with a smile on his face. Even the occasional glitch from a poor wifi connection couldn’t detract from the pitch-perfect rendition. “Smile” was one other common selection, sung superbly by each the legendary Patti LuPone and Audra McDonald with Will Swenson. This mission — to make viewers smile — continued with nostalgic Disney tunes as Andrew Lloyd Webber performed a intelligent medley and Lea Salonga sang “Reflection” from “Mulan” simply as exquisitely as she did within the 1998 movie.

Along with the performances, interviews, and brief pre-recorded video messages, technical difficulties had been a continuing supply of leisure all through the dwell stream. The present’s producer, Erich Bergen, turned generally known as “Rosie Tech Help” after three friends in a row lacked audio and O’Donnell herself had bother along with her microphone. Lots of the stars’ audio or video would skip, revealing that even celebrities wrestle with buying flawless wifi. None of those points made the expertise much less pleasurable; as an alternative, the shared struggles introduced viewers and performers nearer collectively. Idina Menzel, whose expertise has been displayed in theater, tv, and movie, tuned in from her kitchen with shaky digital camera angles and general technological confusion, reinforcing the informal ease of the present. Her interview recalled conversations that many dad and mom are having proper now, with matters together with the journey of homeschooling and entertaining Menzel’s kids. The informality of the dwell stream created an intimacy that doesn’t exist throughout Broadway performances and interviews set in a studio, permitting viewers to bond with the celebrities together with O’Donnell.

O’Donnell’s one night time solely return was precisely what theater lovers and members of the Broadway neighborhood wanted throughout this unsure time. The present has since been posted on YouTube and the fundraiser, which has already raised nearly $100,000, remains to be working. By bringing Broadway from the houses of the celebrities to the houses of the viewers, O’Donnell efficiently created a mandatory feeling of unity and power.

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