Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Tony nominee Melissa Errico to deliver annual theatre reflection at Broadway Blessing

Popular Broadway singer/actress Melissa Errico will deliver the annual theatre reflection 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.

Errico made her Broadway debut in a musical adaptation of Anna Karenina at Circle in the Square in 1992. The following year she won the coveted role of Eliza Doolittle in the Broadway revival of My Fair Lady. Her other Broadway credits are High Society, Amour, for which she received a Tony nomination for Best Actress in a Musical, Dracula, the Musical and White Christmas. In 2004, she starred in the hit production of Finian's Rainbow at the Irish Repertory Theater, where she also appeared in The Importance of Being Earnest, Major Barbara and Candida, earning nominations for each. She was selected by Stephen Sondheim to star in Sunday In The Park With George at The Kennedy Center, and became a favorite at The Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles where she starred in "My Fair Lady," "Camelot" and "The Sound of Music."

Most recently, Errico appeared as Clara in the acclaimed CSC revival of Passion until she was sidelined in late March with bronchitis. In June she underwent successful vocal surgery from which she has been recovering.

In the past, theatre reflections have included Lynn Redgrave talking about the importance of theatre in her life, Boyd Gaines reading a speech by Althol Fugard, Marian Seldes and Frances Sternhagen reading from Tennessee Williams and others, and Edward Herrmann doing a dramatic reading of the final scene of Our Town, taking on all the parts.

As previously announced here, other Broadway Blessing performers this year include Tony nominee Christiane Noll who will sing “Ordinary Miracles” and actor Rich Swingle who will perform an excerpt from his one-man play Beyond the Chariots. The Actors’ Temple and St. Clement’s Episcopal Church will be part of this year’s event, as they have been from the beginning, 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, one of this year’s sponsors, 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.

Broadway Blessing was founded in 1997 by author and journalist Retta Blaney, who has been producing the event ever since.

1 comment:

The Mind and Music of Phil Hall said...

How wonderful that Melissa is delivering the theatre reflection at Broadway Blessing. Everyone who attends is in for a big treat.