Musical livestreams bring community together

Virtual gatherings raise money, create comfort

Fair use from Cover art for “Take Me to the World: A Sondheim 90th Birthday Celebration.” The virtual event was live streamed to honor the famous Broadway composer, Stephen Sondheim, and to raise money for Actors Striving to End Poverty.

Ben Sanford

Amidst the current pandemic, it feels like everyone is going through a collective struggle. We are all unable to see our friends and participate in our favorite activities. With that being said, the Broadway community is doing what it can to raise money for the professional workers in the industry, as well as bring entertaining material to everyone sitting at home.

During this time, almost all performing artists have been out of jobs. In an already unstable profession, COVID-19 is hitting the theater and Broadway community pretty hard. The Actors Fund is a charity dedicated to bringing money back to not only the Broadway community but to artists across the nation. Seth Rudetsky, a famous Broadway pianist and writer, has started doing live streams with his husband James Wesley, where they interview some of Broadway’s biggest names. From the original casts of “Les Misérables,” “Spring Awakening” and “Waitress,” Seth and James are bringing hours of entertainment to the fans of the industry. Through doing this, they encourage their viewers to donate what they can to the Actors Fund.

On the fourth night of Passover, actor Jason Alexander hosted an hour long special, “Saturday Night Seder,” to bring both the Jewish and non-Jewish community together with a night of singing, memories and education. The virtual event featured famous names such as Ben Platt, Darren Criss and Idina Menzel to make music, jokes and hopefully bring in donations. Throughout the course of the special, Alexander and his guests urged viewers to donate to the CDC Foundation’s COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund, and “Saturday Night Seder” alone raised $500,000. 

On March 22, 1930, one of the most well known and influential composers in Broadway history, Stephen Sondheim, was born. To celebrate this musical legend’s 90th birthday, the Broadway community came together April 26 for a two and a half hour long concert of his music, “Take Me to the World: A Sondheim 90th Birthday Celebration.” The night was filled with peers and students of Sondheim’s, ranging from Bernadette Peters and Patti Lupone to Josh Groban and Lin Manuel-Miranda. With stunning and poetic performances from every participant, the iconic composers’ music and legacy were honored beautifully.

On top of the stunning voices and kind words for Sondheim, the celebration also advocated for an organization called Artists Striving to End Poverty (ASTEP). According to the ASTEP website, ASTEP’s mission is to “connect performing and visual artists with youth from underserved communities in the U.S. and around the world to awaken their imaginations, foster critical thinking, and help them break the cycle of poverty.” With brief interludes throughout the birthday celebration to talk about and endorse this organization, Broadway is doing its best to help the youth of the globe become artists of their own. 

Through simple entertainment and encouraging donations, the Broadway community has been coming together throughout this global crisis to bring relief and charity to those in need. All three of these musical-oriented virtual gatherings are available for free on YouTube, and I highly recommend each of them.