Monday, July 1, 2013

Tony Nominee Christiane Noll to Sing at 16th Annual Broadway Blessing

Christiane Noll, a beloved singer on Broadway and concert stages far and wide, will sing at this year’s Broadway Blessing, the free interfaith service of song, dance and story that brings the theatre community together every September to ask God’s blessing on the new season. The 16th annual Broadway Blessing will be Sept. 9 at 7 p.m. at The Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration, commonly known as The Little Church Around the Corner, on 29th between Fifth and Madison

Currently appearing in “They’re Playing His Songs: The Music of
Marvin Hamlisch,” the world premiere tribute show conceived and directed by David Zippel at the Cape Playhouse in Massachusetts, Noll appeared on Broadway last season as Hannah Chaplin in Chaplin, earning a Drama Desk nomination for best featured actress in a musical. She was nominated for a best actress in a musical Tony for her performance as Mother in the 2010 revival of Ragtime, and her many other theatre credits include creating the role of Emma in the 1997 Broadway production of Jekyll & Hyde and appearing on Broadway in the 1999 revue It Ain't Nothin' but the Blues. 

Noll frequently performs Broadway favorites in concert and has been a guest soloist as part of Bravo Broadway with the National Symphony and Marvin Hamlisch, The Cincinnati Pops, The Jerusalem Symphony, The Philadelphia Pops and Peter Nero, and has sung with The Cleveland Orchestra, the Detroit Symphony, The San Francisco Symphony, and the Sinfonica Brasileira in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She made her Carnegie Hall debut with Skitch Henderson in his last New York Pops performance, and she has released four solo CD’s.

Also appearing at this year’s Broadway Blessing will be Rich Swingle, an actor beloved around the world for his one-man plays. Swingle will will perform an excerpt from his play Beyond the Chariots, which picks up where the 1981 film “Chariots of Fire” left off. The script is being translated into its seventh language for the Sochi Olympics and shows Eric Liddell leaving Olympic glory behind to serve the people of China for the rest of his life.

As founder and producer, I am lining up additional guest artists for this year’s Blessing, which will be supported by The Little Church and the Episcopal Actors’ Guild, celebrating its 90th anniversary. Among those who have participated in the past are Lynn Redgrave, Marian Seldes, Frances Sternhagen, Boyd Gaines, Edward Herrmann, Billy Porter, KT Sullivan, James Barbour, Three Mo’ Tenors and Broadway Inspirational Voices.

The Actors’ Temple and St. Clement’s Episcopal Church will be part of this year’s event at The Little Church, as will the Broadway Blessing Choir, now under the direction of Claudia Dumschat, The Little Church’s music director. Project Dance is expected to return as well.

While this will be Broadway Blessing’s first year in its new home, Transfiguration has been welcoming actors for years, which is how it earned its nickname, The Little Church Around the Corner. The name dates back to 1870 when Joseph Jefferson, famous for his portrayal of Rip Van Winkle onstage, had requested a funeral at another church for his fellow actor and friend, George Holland. Upon learning that the deceased had been an actor, the priest refused. At that time many considered actors to be unworthy of Christian burial. After some prodding by Jefferson, the priest commented, “There is a little church around the corner where it might be done.” Jefferson responded, “Then I say to you, sir, ‘God bless the little church around the corner.’”

The church has maintained its close ties to the theater, serving as the national headquarters of the Episcopal Actors' Guild since its founding in 1923. The facility itself was designated a United States Landmark for Church and Theater in 1973.

The mission of the Episcopal Actors’ Guild is to provide emergency aid and support to professional performers of all faiths undergoing financial crisis.  It is also dedicated to helping emerging artists advance their careers through scholarships, awards, and performance opportunities.

The primary service of the Guild is its Emergency Aid & Relief Program (EARP), giving grants to performing artists in financial crisis regardless of faith, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, physical ability or language.  The Guild addresses such crucial issues as eviction, housing court stipulations, utilities shutoffs, emergency medical and dental costs, and sustenance needs (including food and transportation).   It prides itself on being one of the only agencies able to provide immediate emergency financial assistance, when necessary.  When a qualified applicant contacts the Guild in crisis, they can receive a vendorized check the same day.  

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