On World AIDS Day, December 1, 2020, 51 stars of stage and screen joined forces to honor those lost to AIDS through song and spoken word during the online revival of Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens.
The streamed series of free-verse monologues with a blues, jazz and rock score benefited Broadway Cares and raised $82,334.
Created in the face of one pandemic and revived in another, Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens features a book and lyrics by Bill Russell and music by Janet Hood. It premiered in 1989 as the AIDS crisis ravaged the country. Each monologue is written from the perspective of a character who died from AIDS. This stirring piece of theater history, shared on World AIDS Day, took on new meaning amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The stream opened with an all-new monologue performed by the legendary Nathan Lane. The piece, updated to fit the challenges of 2020, told the story of a long-term survivor of HIV who ultimately succumbed to COVID-19. The poignant piece launched into the existing work.
The stream that followed evoked laughter and tears, moving memories and hope for the future. The actors evoking those emotions were Brooks Ashmanskas, Laura Bell Bundy, Paul Castree, Richard Chamberlain, Charity Angél Dawson, Fran Drescher, Robin de Jesús, J. Harrison Ghee, Stephanie Gibson, Gideon Glick, Lana Gordon, Alan H. Green, Lena Hall, Tony winner Jayne Houdyshell, Lisa Howard, James Monroe Iglehart, Famke Janssen, Jay Armstrong Johnson, Cherry Jones, Francis Jue, Joaquina Kalukango, Tari Kelly, Norm Lewis, Vicki Lewis, Telly Leung, Alyse Alan Louis, Andrea Macasaet, Stanley Wayne Mathis, Kevin McHale, Varla Jean Merman, Jessie Mueller, Cynthia Nixon, Okieriete Onaodowan, Royina Patel, Anthony Rapp, Krysta Rodriguez, Seth Rudetsky, Kirsten Scott, Matthew Scott, Michael James Scott, JK Simmons, Robin Lord Taylor, Evan Todd, Mariand Torres, Alysha Umphress, Anna Uzele, Marisha Wallace and Michael Xavier.
Every dollar donated during the stream of Elegies helped those across the country affected by HIV/AIDS, COVID-19 and other critical illnesses receive healthy meals, lifesaving medication, emergency financial assistance, housing, counseling and more. The donations also support and champion organizations focused on social justice and anti-racism.
The streaming of Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens was directed by Bill Russell and Justin Ross Cohen.It was produced by Jim Kierstead and Broadway Virtual, Jim Head, Sainty & Eric Nelsen, Rusty & Molly Reid, The Worx Productions LTD, Linda Karn, Daniel Mitura/Jill Steinberg, Ann Moore/Jane Furse, and Justin Ross Cohen, in association with The Abingdon Theatre Company (Chad Austin, Artistic Director).