The cast of Broadway’s acclaimed new musical, JERSEY BOYS, present Phyllis Newman, Bebe Neuwirth, and Maria Di Dia with a check from BC/EFA for $300,000 for the Women’s Health Initiative.
The 11 th ANNUAL NOTHING LIKE A DAME concert benefiting the Phyllis Newman Women’s Health Initiative (PNWHI) was held at the Imperial Theatre on Monday, March 6 to a resounding, full-capacity crowd.
Ms. Newman kicked off the evening by entering stage left with a tuba from SWEENEY TODD, referred to as “My cohort, Ramon”. Highlights from Act One featured Maria Friedman’s smoky take on “Broadway Baby”, followed by a lively medley from the JerseyGirls, who would later be joined in Act II by their counterparts, the JERSEY BOYS – proof that for at least once a year, everyone’s a Dame! Rosemary Harris spoke eloquently of The Women’s Initiative, reminding how women, so naturally nurturing, often need a place where they, too, can get the help they need.
The Phyllis Newman Health Initiative was organized in 1996 with a $10,000 grant form BC/EFA to provide a safety net for women in the entertainment industry who are coping with critical health concerns, or life-threatening illnesses; illnesses such as lymphoma, which claimed the life of Wendy Wasserstein this past January. Wendy was honored on stage at this year’s DAMES in selected readings from her Tony-award and Pulitzer-prize winning play, THE HEIDI CHRONICLES, performed by Jennifer Ehle, Julianna Margulies and Cynthia Nixon.
PNWHI offers a roster of services to help women access appropriate health care. Women face specific and difficult health challenges which can severely affect their ability to work and take care of their families. The role of the Women’s Health Initiative is also particularly important as members of our industry, who are chronically under-and-un-insured, find health insurance increasingly expensive and difficult to obtain.
In testament to the life-saving benefits of PNWHI, Ramona Floyd and Sarah Hamilton appeared on stage in Act II to speak of their battles with breast cancer, MS and lymphoma; how the help they found in counseling, medications, surgeries and financial assistance from the Initiative not only saved their lives, but allowed them to chart their re-emergence into the entertainment community. Joined by breast cancer survivor, Jill Eichenberry, it was a powerful and profound statement by two of the 380 clients served in 2005 by PNWHI, who last year received over $175,000 in emergency financial assistance.
Kate Clinton was the evening’s undisputed mascot, wowing the crowd in Act I with her witty take on one woman’s estrangement from the current political climate. Kate bounced back after intermission with a surprise DAMES auctions. By the time the last hand raised, an amazing $20,000 bid had been placed on a Classic Avenue Harry Winston timepiece with all proceeds benefiting BC/EFA.
Representing the youngest dames, Catherine Hurlin and Jessica Ferretti danced the duet from “Winter Light’ under the choreography of Kelly Burke. Tyne Daly of RABBIT HOLE followed with “The Job Application” from BALLROOM, and the star power continued with DAMES perennial Bebe Neuwirth and “Cabaret”.
The full cast closer, “There is Nothing Like a Dame” from SOUTH PACIFIC was preceded by the arrival a giant check in the amount of $300,000 from BC/EFA to The Phyllis Newman Women’s Health Initiative. From just the proceeds from 11 DAMESevents alone, BC/EFA has provided over $2.1 million to The Phyllis Newman Women’s Health Initiative and remains the program’s largest single funder.