THE REAL LOVE Debuts at Pasadena Civic, Broadcasts Live
Over 3,000 people gave a rousing standing ovation for the world premiere of "The Real Love," a new musical which brought together some of the biggest names of Hollywood and Broadway onstage at the Pasadena Civic. In what may be the first time in musical theater history, the opening of "The Real Love" was also experienced by worldwide television viewers watching the live broadcast on Supreme Master Television. This unique occasion was to celebrate the channel's fifth anniversary of constructive programming.
A colorful crowd of international greeters welcomed the stars as they arrived on the red carpet, which included 2-time Oscar nominee Carol Connors, 5-time Emmy nominee Doris Roberts, Grammy nominee Frank Stallone, Oscar nominated actor Michael Lerner, Grammy winner Florence La Rue, among many other luminaries.
Echoing the theme of the event, Ed Begley, Jr. ("LIVING WITH ED"), one of the MCs of the show, said, "The real love for me is love of your fellow man and fellow creatures, to love all the many creatures in the animal kingdom. I'm a vegan, I'm a non-dairy vegetarian so that's part of it for me, that's part of expressing that love."
In addition to Mr. Begley, the show was hosted by a bevy of other veg celebrities including multi-Emmy nominated actor Grant Aleksander ("ALL MY CHILDREN"), and acclaimed actresses Kristin Bauer ("TRUE BLOOD"), Elaine Hendrix ("THE PARENT TRAP"), and Hayley Marie Norman ("HANCOCK").
"The Real Love" is a grand Broadway-style musical inspired by an extraordinary, true love story, starring award-winning actress Joanna Ampil ("LES MISÉRABLES"), Tony winner Daisy Eagan ("THE SECRET GARDEN"), Tony winner Cady Huffman ("THE PRODUCERS"), Tony nominee Adam Pascal ("RENT"), and Tony nominee Robert Torti ("STARLIGHT EXPRESS"). With songs and dances that ranged from tap to disco to Indian, the audience was taken on a breathtaking journey from Europe to Asia with the 37 guest stars and cast members, accompanied by a full 21-piece orchestra. ?
As Robert Torti explains, "It's definitely not your textbook Broadway musical that I'm used to or that a lot of people are used to. But it's not your typical story. So that makes it better, you know."
The musical is about the true story of a woman who is deeply in love with her equally tender, yet strong-willed husband. At the same time, a calling and sensitivity to feel what the world's suffering propels her to make a heartrending decision - remain with her beloved or sacrifice everything in search of happiness for all. It is inspired by the life of Supreme Master Ching Hai, a world-renowned spiritual leader, humanitarian, bestselling author, poet and artist. The songs of the musical were based on her poems, set to music by a constellation of eminent composers: Oscar & 5-time Emmy winner Bill Conti ("ROCKY"), 2-time Oscar winner Al Kasha ("The Morning After" from "THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE"; "SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS"), Emmy nominee Doug Katsaros, Tony & Emmy winner Don Pippin ("OLIVER"), and Oscar & 2-time Grammy winner David Shire.
On the red carpet, Mr. Pippin shared, "It is a very unique experience in my life because I've never had the opportunity to work with such beautiful words, set to music, by Supreme Master Ching Hai. She is so beautiful, what she writes, and it inspires me."
Mr. Pippin is also the composer for the opening song, "The Real Love," which featured guest stars: Tony winner and Broadway legend Betty Buckley ("CATS"), Italian classical/pop star Filippa Giordano; Oscar winner Shirley Jones ("THE PARTRIDGE FAMILY"), young Tony winning dancing sensations Trent Kowalik and Kiril Kulish ("BILLY ELLIOT"), Emmy winner Faith Rivera, actor and singer Tom Schmid, and soprano Lynne Wintersteller.?
The ever gracious Shirley Jones, who also plays a role in the musical as the mother-in-law of the main character, accompanied by actor Dick Van Patten ("EIGHT IS ENOUGH") as the father-in-law, expressed, "I thought it was a wonderful story and a wonderful idea and the music was very interesting...I'm just happy to be a part of this."
Invited as the Guest of Honor, Supreme Master Ching Hai spoke with the audience at the conclusion of the musical via live videoconference: "I can never thank all of you enough for your incredible loving dedication and support to art and love. This is the real love, your love. Love is the most precious thing in this physical realm. So we must protect love, be it the love between a couple, between parents and children, between friends. Love between humans or love between animals, love between humans and animals or between animals and human...We must cherish, treasure love if we find it."
Supreme Master Ching Hai then took the opportunity to express her love with a generous donation totalling US$210,000 to six charitable organizations: ChildHelp, EarthSave, Environmental Media Association, Greenpeace, United Way of Greater Los Angeles and United Way Worldwide.
In a guest performance to conclude the event, Don McLean performed some of his most famous hits including "American Pie" and "Castles in the Air," and before beginning "Vincent" ("Starry Starry Night"), he said, "And Master Ching Hai loves this song, so I'm doing this for her."
To wrap up the day, the show's stars, celebrities and the public alike, enjoyed the impressive vegan banquet catered by LA's premier vegan restaurants, Loving Hut and One Veg World. Attendees also had the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful art exhibition featuring the uplifting, creative works of Supreme Master Ching Hai.
This spectacular show will be re-broadcast on Supreme Master Television at a later date, with multi-language subtitles.