BWW Review: Concert For America Brings All the Stars to Chicago!
Concert for America is a humanitarian effort by the Broadway community that woke up in early November, as we all did, to the realities of President Trump. The initiative seeks to raise money for organizations that have always been important for social justice, but will prove ever more vital in the current administration. These include such causes as the Southern Poverty Law Center, NAACP, Sierra Club, NCADV, and National Immigration Law Center.
The concert, hosted by Sirius XM host Seth Rudetsky and husband and Broadway producer James Wesley, presented the audience (both in-person and live stream) with a sharp juxtaposition between dreamy escapism and harsh reality. The set list interspersed performances of mostly uplifting musical numbers by glitzy performers, speakers representing the various organizations, and harrowing accounts from brave people willing to tell their troubled stories in front of thousands. The stories of survivors included tales of unimaginable domestic violence, the struggle of undocumented immigrants, and escaping totalitarianism. Just as the doom and gloom would begin to set in, the concert would boost the mood with a new musical message of hope.
Providing this ascent out of collective depression was an amazing collective of performers, past, present, and future stars. The Chicago Children's Choir gave a rendition of The National Anthem that should recorded and played at every sporting event from now on, with harmonies tighter than a Red Line car during rush hour. Continuing the theme of Chicago, Chita Rivera shimmied her way through "All That Jazz" and Christine Pedi busted out her Broadway diva impressions during a Chicago medley. (Broadway fans: you have not lived until you have heard Pedi playing Cher playing Roxy Hart.) More emotional performances included Alice Ripley singing "Who Will Love Me As I Am?" from Side Show, Marya Grandy taking on Sara Bareilles's "Brave", and the whole cast singing "What the World Needs Now is Love" and "Let the Sunshine In" as one. All in all, despite the jarring doses of real-world strife, the evening left behind the hopeful feeling that together, with courage and solidarity, we can survive our troubled times.
Photos by Kat Fitzgerald