Friday, August 6, 2010

A Chicago Blessing?

It has been my dream that Broadway Blessing would expand to other locations around the country and even to theatre cities like Dublin and London. What has been needed is someone there to get it going. Now that dream just might be coming true in Chicago.

Last month I did a 90-minute presentation on Broadway Blessing, the interfaith service of song, dance and story I founded in 1997 to bring the theatre community together to ask God’s blessing on the new season, for “Encountering the Sacred in the Theatre,” the Christians in Theatre Arts (CITA) symposium here in NYC. At the end, one of the participants, Les Rorick, who is studying acting in Chicago, approached me and said he’d like to start a Blessing in his city. How wonderful of him! We are e-mailing back and forth with ideas. If anyone in Chicago wants to help out, please get in touch with Les through Facebook. Prayers for this venture are appreciated. (And if anyone wants to start a Blessing in their city, please get in touch with me through Facebook or LinkedIn.)

For all those in NYC, mark your calendars for this year’s Blessing -- 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 13th at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine, Amsterdam Avenue and 112th Street. I’m working out the details now, but so far the evening will include a theatre reflection by theatre, film and TV actress Kate Burton (in photo), whose most recent New York appearance was this past summer when she portrayed actress Katherine Cornell in A.R. Gurney’s new play The Grand Manner at Lincoln Center (final confirmation pending). Last year the theatre reflection was given by Lynn Redgrave, who this spring lost her battle with breast cancer. We will offer a memorial tribute to her this year.

Charles West, currently in the 50th anniversary cast of The Fantasticks, will sing “Try To Remember.”  Before The Fantasticks, he was in the Broadway casts of The Scarlet Pimpernel, Show Boat and Cyrano the Musical.

To celebrate another half century of a classic, actor Anthony Newfield, whose most recent Broadway credits include The Royal Family and Waiting for Godot, will perform a selection from To Kill a Mockingbird, the play based on Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, which was published 50 years ago. Newfield recently played protagonist Atticus Finch onstage in California.

Also scheduled to appear: Catherine Russell, who was recently inducted into The Guinness Book of World Records for not missing a day of work since 1987. She has starred in Perfect Crime since its first performance on April 18, 1987 and has never, ever taken a sick day or vacation.  She will offer a reading about spirituality and God's love. Project Dance will perform to the hymn “His Eye Is on the Sparrow.”

The Broadway Blessing Choir under the direction of Bruce Neswick, Director/Cathedral Music, will perform a number of Broadway hits followed by a “sing-a-long”.  The Very Rev. Dr. James A. Kowalski, Dean, and The Rev. Thomas Miller, Canon for Liturgy & Arts, from the Cathedral will be joined by Rabbi Jill Hausman of The Actors' Temple and The Rev. Mitties DeChamplain of St. Clement's Episcopal Church as participants in the 75-minute program.

Past participants have included Lynn Redgrave, Marian Seldes, Frances Sternhagen, Boyd Gaines, Edward Herrmann, Anna Manahan, KT Sullivan, Mary-Mitchell Campbell, J. Mark McVey, Tituss Burgess, Kathleen Chalfant, Billy Porter, Elizabeth Swados, Ken Prymus, Three Mo’ Tenors and Broadway Inspirational Voices.

Broadway Blessing is free and reservations are not needed.  

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