Broadway's Best Raise their Voices in Support of Civil Liberties at Annual NYCLU Concert
The New York Civil Liberties Union’s 14th annual “Broadway Stands Up for Freedom” drew a packed house at the NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts on Monday night. Dozens of Broadway stars and performers honored the NYCLU’s work.
“Our hearts are filled with music and gratitude to the many Broadway stars who joined us in sup-port of civil liberties and the arts,” said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the NYCLU. “Thanks to their talents and their generosity, the show not only raised artistic spirits, but it also raised awareness and money for the NYCLU’s crucial work.”
In opening the concert with her daughter, founding performer Liana Stampur, Lieberman riffed on Trump promising that the NYCLU would build its own style wall – “a wall of separation …between church and state.”
Amplified by the occasion of International Nelson Mandela Day, the program honored Mandela’s legacy
by highlighting the NYCLU’s recent victories against what Mandela called “the most forbidding aspect of prison life” – solitary confinement. The show also highlighted NYCLU work on public defense reform, LGBT rights, police reform, solitary confinement, farmworkers’ rights and immigration. The audience included notable figures from NYCLU causes, including Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner, and Dominque Sharpton from the National Action Network. Also in attendance were Counsel to the Governor Alphonso David, and the State Attorney General’s Civil Rights Bureau Chief, Lourdes Rosado.
Tony Award-nominated director Leisl Tommy (Eclipsed) delivered a rousing keynote address on the importance of diversity in the arts, and Tony Award-winner Jayne Houdyshell (The Humans) read a poem by 16-year-old Khadiza Bhuiyan, “The Revision of Our Ethics.” This piece was among the winners of the NYCLU’s annual Freedom of Expression Contest, in which young people speak their minds on pressing civil liberties questions. Wallace Smith, who will join the Chicago cast of Hamilton, read from letters of those in solitary confinement in New York. The cast of the new play PRIVACY, which was informed by the work of the NYCLU and features Daniel Radcliffe and Rachel Dratch, delivered a special recorded congratulations.
Susan Blackwell hosted the concert, which featured performances by Ben Platt (Pitch Perfect), Benj Pasek (Dear Evan Hansen), Whitney Bashor (The Bridges of Madison County), Alex Grubbs (of The Lobbyists), Grace McLean (Natasha Pierre), Erich Bergen (Madame Secretary), Jennifer Simard (Disaster!), Christina Bianco (The Marvelous Wonderettes), Todd Buonopane (Cinderella), Devin Trey Campbell (Kinky Boots), Crystal Monee Hall (Rent), Celisse Henderson (GODSPELL), Celia Keenan-Bolger (Glass Menagerie), Kristolyn Lloyd (Dear Evan Hansen), Ray Mercer (The Lion King), Zachary Prince (Honeymoon in Vegas), Liana Stampur and Clinton Curtis, and the Brooklyn Tech Lady Dragons Step Team.
The evening was directed by Peter Flynn and Daniel Goldstein, with musical direction by Lynn Shankel.
For more information about the show, visit www.nyclu.org/broadway.
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The American Civil Liberties Union is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America.