ABC Daytime & SOAPnet Salute Broadway Cares

It’s hard to believe that our ABC Daytime event is already five years old and that what started out as a one-time celebration of All My Children’s 35th birthday has become a highly anticipated annual tradition.

This year’s sold-out event – The 5th Annual ABC & SOAPnet Salute Broadway Cares – generated a record $325,000 in ticket sales, auction bids and online fundraising donations. The following day, fans streamed onto the set of The View at ABC Studios on W.66th St. for autograph sessions with their favorite soap stars, generating another $5,000 and bringing the event’s grand total to $330,000. Over the course of five editions ABC Daytime & SOAPnet Salute Broadway Cares has raised almost $1,325,000!

Held March 9, 2009 at New York’s historic Town Hall – directed by John Dietrich, with musical direction by Steven Freeman and Shawn Gough, and produced by Michael T. Clarkston – the event featured beloved stars from ABC Daytime’s Emmy® Award-winning shows “All My Children,” “One Life to Live,” and General Hospital,” who delighted fans with musical numbers and skits, some involving onstage fan participation.

The View was filming in Los Angeles, preventing its always supportive hosts from participating, but a special treat was provided by the appearance of David Alvarez, Trent Kowalik and Kiril Kulish – the three young, rotating “Billys” of Billy Elliot, the Musical performing together Billy’s show-stopping solo number “Electricity” from the acclaimed hit show.

In the House

Cameron Mathison was back to host this year while the legendary Susan Lucci dazzled throughout the evening. Other stars of “All My Children” appearing were: Tamara Braun, Bobbie Eakes, Melissa Claire Egan, Ricky Paull Goldin,  Brianne Moncrief,  Eden Riegel,  Cornelius Smith Jr., Chrishell Stause,  Aiden Turner, Denise Vasi, Walt Willey, Darnell Williams and Jacob Young.

“One Life  to  Live” was represented by Kristen Alderson,  Melissa Archer,  Camila Banus,  BethAnn Bonner,  Kathy Brier,  John Brotherton,  Brandon Buddy,  Scott Clifton,  Kassie DePaiva,  Farah Fath,  Crystal Hunt, John-Paul Lavoisier,  Mark Lawson,  Hillary B. Smith,  Jason Tam and Brittany Underwood, while Los Angeles-based “General Hospital” offered fan favorites Bradford Anderson, Brandon Barash and Anthony Geary.

Participating auction winners were Valerie Medina, James J. Moran, Shpresa Nela and Lucille Russo. Quick-witted Moran helped introduce several performers, while Medina, Nela and Russo all did an excellent job blending into skits with cast members from their favorite shows. All told, this quartet, along with other auction winners, brought in more than $30,000 of the evening’s total.

Stars Come Out to Play

The show included more than 20 numbers, showcasing the varied talents of ABC daytime cast members, many of whom have strong Broadway and cabaret backgrounds. Susan Lucci joined BethAnn Bonner, Hillary B. Smith and Chrishell Stause for the opening number “Daytime Queen,” based on ABBA’s “Dancing Queen.”

A trio of beautiful and powerful vocalists who have emerged as “The Divas of Daytime” – Kathy Brier, Kassie DePaiva and Bobbie Eakes – stopped the first act in its tracks with a rousing medley of “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” “When Will I Be Loved” and “Anyway” and returned to the audience’s delight in the second act for a stirring interpretation of “I Hope You Dance.”

The always-charming Walt Willey accompanied himself on guitar on two lighthearted numbers, including John Prine’s “In Spite of Ourselves,” a duet with beautiful, sassy Melissa Claire Egan.  GH veteran Anthony Geary displayed his powerful voice on the intimate ballad “Never Will I Marry” from Greenwillow before shifting musical gears to sing the power-duet, “I Can See It” fromThe Fantasticks, with his GH co-star, Bradford Anderson.

Teenage star Kristen Alderson sang “Mother’s Prayer,” while AMC and Broadway’s Jason Tam tapped and charmed as a song and dance man with “All I Need is the Girl” from Gypsy. Chrishell Stause, pretty and very pregnant in pink, offered “Always a Bridesmaid,” while Ricky Paull Goldin and guest vocalists, Mindy Wallace and Jill Wolins, joined her on the Georgia Satellites’ “Keep Your Hands to Yourself.”

Scott Clifton impressed with his own composition “Stranger,” Brittany Underwood performed “Funny Honey” from Chicago, while hunky Brandon Barash offered a horrifyingly comic “Dentist” from Little Shop of Horrors (complete with oversized dental instruments of torture).

Act II included Eden Riegel’s funny, moving take on the cabaret favorite “Taylor, the Latte Boy,” a very sharp and dapper Darnell Williams performing “That’s Life,” sexy Hillary B. Smith shaking it up with “It Ain’t the Meat It’s the Motion,” Broadway boy Jacob Young (Beauty & The Beast) on “Everything,” BethAnn Bonner with a lovely “Waiting for Charlie to Come Home,” and a moving interpretation of “Anthem” from Chess, sung by Mark Lawson, who singled out his father in the audience.

The evening ended with Mathison (buff and sleeveless) and Lucci (sexy in a slinky short gold skirt and matching boots), performing a dance medley to Cole Porter’s “Too Darn Hot.” The standouts from separate seasons of ABC’s Dancing With the Stars remained onstage to announce the evening’s fundraising total with a check presentation, and bring out all the performers for a final curtain call.

Battling Couples Bring Big Bucks

Robert Piper, a supporting player on “All My Children,” didn’t appear onstage but played a starring role in fundraising nonetheless.

Piper, an actor in his 20s who became an Actors Fund of America client last year when he nearly lost his arm to a staph infection, not only bounced back from months of physical therapy, but, once back at work as a resident in Pine Valley Memorial Hospital, decided to give back to Broadway Cares by championing “Soap-a-Thon,” the latest in BC/EFA’s online fundraising efforts wherein eight couples from each of the three participating shows are pitted against each other with donors contributing in honor of their favorites to determine the “Power Couple of 2009.”

Top Fan Fundraisers Caren Dwyer, from Kenner Louisiana, and Antoinette Durden of Orlando, Florida, appeared on stage to receive awards for combined efforts totaling over $23,000. Aiden Turner joined them as one-half of the winning Power Couple of 2009 (Aidan Devane & Greenlee Smythe), and, in accepting his award, offered up an unscripted and heartfelt tribute of appreciation for Caren and her peers. Durden’s online fan directive, The Zen Zone, represented support of AMC power couple Zach Slater & Kendall Hart (cast members Thorsten Kaye and Alicia Minshew).

“Together we surpassed the “Soap-A-Thon” 2009 goal of $50,000. I am so happy to know that because of your generosity and others like you we are able to pay it forward to people who really are in need,” said Piper, addressing both his co-workers at AMC and all the team raiser donors who participated nationwide.

The 5th Annual ABC & SOAPnetSalute BC/EFA was made possible through generous corporate sponsorships fromThe New York Times, Continental Airlines and AKA Luxury Extended Stay Hotels.

Photos By:

Steven Fenn:
#10, #12, #14, #16

Peter James Zielinski:
#1; #2; #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8, #9, #11, #13, #15, #17, #18, #19