Comedienne Judy Gold to Host Thursday's embrace! Concert

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On February 17th at 7:00 pm, Michele Helberg and Jamie McGonnigal will present a special one-night-only concert to benefit The Matthew Shepard Foundation. The concert will take place at the Westside Theatre at 407 West 43rd Street, the current home of the long-running off-Broadway hit, I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change.

Judy Gold, actress, comedienne, producer & writer is also the host of HBO's "At the Multiplex with Judy Gold" and is a regular fixture on Comedy Central's "Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn" and "Hollywood Squares." She was one of the stars on Comedy Central's "Bar Mitzvah Bash," and she hosted "100 Greatest Stand-ups of all time" on the same network. She can often be seen gabbing with the girls on "The View" and reminiscing about the past and counting down the greatest videos and celebrity moments on "VH-1's All Access." Judy's half hour special "Comedy Central Presents: Judy Gold" continues to receive high ratings as does Comedy Central's recent special, "Tough Crowd Stands Up."

On the small screen, Judy has appeared on a plethora of shows including "Sex & The City," "Ed," "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno", "Law & Order", "Law & Order, S.V.U.", "The Drew Carey Show", and "As The World Turns", just to name a few. She also co-starred with Glenn Close in the CBS movie of the week, "The Ballad of Lucy Whipple."

Judy won 2 Emmy Awards for writing and producing "The Rosie O'Donnell Show", and she won a Cable Ace award for her own HBO half hour special. She was nominated twice for The American Comedy Award's funniest female stand-up. Judy also co-starred in the off-Broadway production of "The Vagina Monologues."

The cast of embrace! recently added Phantom of the Opera film star, Patrick Wilson, Assassin's Marc Kudisch and Lennon's Julia Murney. Also included in the cast will be Nancy Anderson (Kiss Me, Kate), Bryan Batt (La Cage aux Folles, Jeffrey), Laura Benanti (Nine, Into the Woods) and her mother, renowned voice teacher Linda Benanti in a rare public performance. Nikki Renee Daniels (Little Shop, Nine), Max von Essen (The Baker's Wife, Dance of the Vampires), Adam Fleming (Hairspray, BARE), Darius de Haas (Marie Christine), Tom Hewitt (Dracula), Tina Maddigan (Mamma Mia), Kelli O'Hara (Dracula), Kate Pazakis (Pippin In Concert), Jai Rodriguez (Queer Eye For The Straight Guy), Emily Skinner (Side Show), Nicole Snelson (tick, tick BOOM Nat'l Tour), and Matt Stocke (The Boy from Oz). In addition to that, singer/songwriters Jenny Giering, (Caraboo, The Mistress Cycle) and Randi Driscoll (whose song, "What Matters" has raised more than $40K for The Matthew Shepard Foundation). embrace! will be Music Directed by composer Rick Hip-Flores and directed by Jamie McGonnigal, who produced the recent Pippin and Children of Eden Concerts for World AIDS Day. Judy Shepard, Executive Director for The Matthew Shepard Foundation, will join the VIPs, cast and crew at the after party being held at Bennigan's Restaurant (47th and 8th Avenue).

The Matthew Shepard Foundation, founded in December 1998 by Dennis and Judy Shepard, was established in memory of their 21-year old son, Matthew, who was murdered in an anti-gay hate crime. The Foundation carries out Matthew's legacy by supporting educational projects, activities and documentaries that raise awareness of the issues involving discrimination and diversity. The Foundation's goal is to educate and replace hate with understanding, acceptance and compassion.

embrace! will feature songs which celebrate diversity, inspiration and hope and all proceeds will benefit The Matthew Shepard Foundation in its mission to replace hate with understanding. Last year's concert raised thousands for the foundation and spawned embrace! concerts in several other cities around the country.

Tickets may be ordered online at www.MatthewShepard.org or by calling 646-289-6864. The performance will take place February 17th at 7PM, The Westside Theatre, 407 West 43rd Street (btw 9th and 10th Aves).

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