Theater fans across the country last week celebrated an industry shuttered during the pandemic by watching NBC’s primetime special One Night Only: The Best of Broadway and donating an incredible $3,263,848 to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
The two-hour, star-studded special, which aired December 10, 2020, was hosted by Mean Girls‘ creator Tina Fey. The evening included special performances from the casts of Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations, Chicago, Jagged Little Pill, Diana: The Musical, Jersey Boys, Mean Girls, Rent and an appearance by the cast of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
Donations from the special are immediately being put to use providing emergency financial assistance and care to those in the Broadway community who are struggling through a pandemic that threatens their health and will keep their industry closed for more than a year. That help is being provided through The Actors Fund, the employee assistance program for everyone in the entertainment industry and performing arts. Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS is the single largest financial provider for The Actors Fund’s safety net of social services.
“We are deeply grateful to all the Broadway casts, crews and musicians, their producers and everyone at NBC for making this spectacular evening a reality,” Tom Viola, executive director of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, said. “This celebration of Broadway will help thousands who make their livings on stage, backstage and behind the scenes and with the shutdown of our beloved theatres have been left out of work for months. They need a helping hand today. I salute NBC and the tens of thousands of donors who responded to our appeals for support in this time of crisis. Broadway will be back, live and in person. Until then, what we do together now makes a difference.”
Fey said: “I was so happy to be a part of this special night for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and I send heartfelt thanks to everyone across the country who donated. You’re helping to provide emergency assistance to so many in our community who are in need right now.”
“We were so honored to partner with Broadway Cares to celebrate and showcase the remarkable theater community,” said Doug Vaughan, Executive Vice President, Special Programs, NBC Entertainment. “The generous outpouring of donations has been incredible and we are grateful to know they will be put to work immediately to help those in the industry affected by these difficult times.”
One Night Only: The Best of Broadway featured special appeals by longtime Broadway Cares’ advocates Barbra Streisand, Sean Hayes, Nathan Lane, Billy Porter and Vanessa Williams. Lane and Porter also serve on the Broadway Cares Board of Trustees.
“My love affair with Broadway started when I was 14 years old,” Streisand said during the show. “I’m worried about the thousands of dedicated professionals who have lost their jobs. That’s why I’ve always been a passionate believer in the mission of Broadway Cares. For decades it has been a resource for the theater community. If you love Broadway and want to support the people who are its lifeblood, please give what you can and donate today.”
The $3,263,848 total reflects donations through midnight Sunday, December 13, 2020. Donations can still be made at broadwaycares.org/help2020.
One Night Only: The Best of Broadway also featured performances by Kelly Clarkson, Brett Eldredge, Patti LaBelle and appearances from Annaleigh Ashford, Antonio Banderas, Lance Bass, Kristen Bell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Sutton Foster, Peter Gallagher, Josh Groban, Jake Gyllenhaal, Ron Cephas Jones, Brittney Mack, Camryn Manheim, Rob McClure, Alanis Morissette, Jerry O’Connell, Leslie Odom Jr., Mary-Louise Parker, John Stamos, Aaron Tveit, Blair Underwood and Susan Kelechi Watson.
The One Night Only: The Best of Broadway telecast was a production of Brad Lachman Productions with Lachman serving as executive producer. Bill Bracken was co-executive producer.
Photos by Virginia Sherwood/NBC