The 12TH ANNUAL NOTHING LIKE A DAME concert produced by BC/EFA to benefit the Phyllis Newman WOMEN’S HEALTH INITIATIVE of The Actors’ Fund took to the stage of New York’s Marquis Theatre on Monday evening, March 19.
This year’s event showcased a star-studded line up of Tony, Grammy and Oscar Award® winning women of the theater, who joined forces to raise over $300,000 for the organization that provides a safety net of essential social services to women in the entertainment industry.
In the spirit of “The show must go on!”, this year’s DAMES was enthusiastically hosted by the “Broadway baby” star of TV’sLaw and Order, Milena Govich, who literally glittered in diamonds from The House of Harry Winston – one of the evening’s sponsors.
Closed airports and cancelled flights prevented a number of the DAMES originally scheduled to appear from getting into New York, let alone making it to the Marquis on time. But, fortunately for the sold-out audience, “chills, bills, flu and pilot season” could not keep a good dame down! “You don’t do a benefit with the show you want. You go with the show you have” quipped Govich, paraphrasing an infamous Bush-ism during her introduction.
The evening began with a splashy opening medley staged by DAMES choreographer Rhonda Miller that featured Barbara Walsh (Company); Jennifer Smith (The Drowsy Chaperone), and Jenn Gambatese (Tarzan), backed by a high -icking, tap-dancing ensemble.
High points of the evening included a performance of “Ordinary Miracles” by Oscar and Grammy Award® winner, Maureen McGovern, and a knockout rendition of Jason Robert Brown’s Kurt Weill-esque holiday carol “Surabaya Santa” by Tony Award® winner Beth Leavel, of DROWSY. Act One ended with a gender bending take on “Dreamgirls” featuring “honorary dames” Jose Llana, Paul Castree and Jason Michael Snow followed by the original “Dreamgirl” herself, Jennifer Holliday rising up from beneath the stage to proclaim to the world, “And I am Telling You, I’m Not Going,” bringing the curtain down on a standing ovation.
Act Two kicked off with the youngest dames on the bill – the students of the Westchester Academy of Dance – who strutted their stuff to Bette Midler’s “Big Noise from Wanetka” with enough sass and spunk to make the Divine Miss M proud, and continued with the onstage reunion of Lea Salonga and Liz Callaway, the original stars of Miss Saigon, performing that musical’s show-stopping duet “I Still Believe.”
“Hilarious Lesbian Aviatrix” Kate Clinton – a NOTHING’ LIKE A DAME perennial favorite and the evening’s “faith-based comedian” – descended to the stage atop The Drowsy Chaperone’s propeller airplane and, once grounded, left the crowd in stitches at the expense of many a “scared cow” – no doubt to the consternation of George W’s Republican base.
Renee Goldsberry and Tika Sumpter, fresh from their dazzling debut at last month’s 3rd Annual ABC Daytime Salutes Broadway Cares at Town Hall, hit home about the fulfillment of lasting friendship in their inspiring duet, “For Good.” And Broadway star Ana Gasteyer proved she could “Defy Gravity” outside the Gershwin and without benefit of green makeup with a dynamic rendition of “Don’t Rain on My Parade,” the final featured song of the evening.
In testament to the benefits of PNWHI, Barbara Rubenstein followed breast cancer survivor Jill Eikenberrry’s moving version of the Joni Mitchell’s classic, “Both Sides Now,” telling her own story of cancer survival in a profound statement of her experience as a PNWHI client. In 2006, Barbara was one of over 400 women who benefited from the support provided by The Actors’ Fund under the banner of The WOMEN’S HEALTH INITIATIVE. Bringing these two champions of health and well-being together was the incomparable Lynn Redgrave – a Tony and Oscar® Award nominated actress and one of BC/EFA’s best friends. Ms. Redgrave, who serves as 3rd Vice President of The Actors’ Fund, moved some to tears with her heart-felt sentiment. “Women in our field facing the challenge of illness in this day and age are more determined than ever to stand united,” she said. Determined indeed.
But, perhaps the essence of NOTHING LIKE A DAME came early in the show from the lyrics of “Ordinary Miracles,” enhanced by Ms. McGovern’s skilled performance:
Happen all around,
Just by giving and receiving
Comes belonging and believing
Ordinary miracles…..happen every day.
Special thanks to BC/EFA’s generous annual sponsors, CONTINENTAL AIRLINES, THE NEW YORK TIMES and MAC AIDS FUND, the evening’s additional sponsors – Altria, O.P.I., The House of Harry Winston, John’s Pizzeria and Maybelline, as well as our sold out audience of major donors, VIP tickets buyers and the hundreds of others who make the work of The Phyllis Newman WOMEN’S HEALTH INITIATIVE possible.
Photo Credits: Jay Brady Photography Inc.
NOTHING LIKE A DAME 2007
The New York Times
Continental Airlines, the official airlines of BC/EFA
Altria, Harry Winston, Beaulieu Vineyard, OPI, John’s Pizzeria