Broadway Artists & CAT Youth Theatre come together for Benefit “Happiness”

Posted: November 18, 2014 in Uncategorized

*colin 16

On November 9th, the Nuyorican Poets Cafe bustled with talent, enthusiasm, compassion and goodwill when the Broadway Artists Connection presented “Happiness” a benefit for CAT Youth Theatre.  Hosted by the incomparable Colin Cunliffe, who’s moves revealed a style only perfected by a cast member of the slick, Fosse-styled show Pippin, the lively entertainment featured performers from a wide range of Broadway shows, including The Last Ship, Evita, Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark, If/Then, Newsies and A Chorus Line.

“What a wonderful evening, and such a joy to be part of that incredible cast,” said Sean McDermott (Grease, Miss Saigon, Falsettos, Starlight Express) who sung a glorious rendition of “Only Make Believe/You Are Love” with the beautiful Heather Parcells (A Chorus Line, Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang, Soul Doctor, Wonderland).  The performance was Directed by Jessica McRoberts (Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark, Follies, Nine) and Accompanied by Michael Lavine.

Highlights included:  Christina DeCicco (Evita, Spider-Man, Sister Act) singing “Little Black Dress”;  Hettie Barnhill (Leap of Faith, Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark, Fela!) performing her own choreography to “Ain’t Got No/I Got Life”; Reg E Gaines (Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk) performing his spoken word piece “Everybody”; and Megan Lewis (If/Then, Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark, Grey Gardens) singing a clever duet version of “All About That Bass” with Pat McRoberts (Miss Saigon).But the true stars of the evening were the students of CAT Youth Theatre. Six youth actors from the group performed excerpts from an original play about disabilities; the ensemble featured a student who has cerebral palsy but whose passion for theatre transcends his wheelchair and voice generator.  “It was a moving scene….It was marvelous, and captured the stage and our hearts,” said CUNY Senior Dean of Academic Affairs & School of Professional Studies, John Mogulescu.

CAT Youth Theatre, Founded & Directed by Helen White, is a free program that helps young people create socially relevant original plays.  Members learn vital life skills enabling youth to become self-confident, compassionate and accountable; to develop relationships across differences; build community; and be prepared to act as contributing citizens.  “The better I got to know the staff and students of CAT Youth Theatre and could see the impact they have on young people, the more proud I became to have them as our charity partner,” says Tamlyn Brooke Orlando, founder of the Broadway Artists Connection. BAC is continuing to collect donations for CAT Youth Theatre; donations can be made HERE.

Additional evening highlights included: Brad Nacht (Billy Elliot) singing a cool James Taylor “Secret O Life;”  Tamlyn Brooke Orlando’s (42nd Street, Dame Edna the Royal Tour) entertaining song & tap “I Wanna Be a Rockette;” Gabrielle Ruiz’s (If/Then, In the Heights, A Chorus Line) inspirational “Live High;” Sarah Hunt’s (The Last Ship) beautiful ballad “Uncharted.”  The performance concluded with a powerful rendition of “River Deep/Mountain High,” sung by Happy McPartlin (Hands on Hardbody) with CAT students, cast & audience clapping along.  “The generosity I witnessed onstage was abundantly overwhelming,” mentioned cast member Sarah Hunt.  “I don’t know how anyone could have left the evening with anything other than a heart full of hope and gratitude to all involved.”The Broadway Artists Connection (BAC) was founded by Tamlyn Brooke Orlando, in collaboration with the Nuyorican Poets Cafe and with founding board members Will Maitland Weiss & Daniel Gallant. BAC brings together Broadway artists and enthusiasts to create new work, connect and give back to their communities.  Since its inception in 2008, BAC has produced eight shows at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe featuring over 75 Broadway Artists & dozens of aspiring artists. BAC events treat audiences to an “insiders’” showbiz experience and has facilitated dozens of invaluable industry connections.  The Broadway Artists Connection has also raised thousands of dollars for multiple charities.  For more information on the Broadway Artists Connection,  visit www.broadwayconnects.org.

Full Cast of “Happiness“:

(In alphabetical order):
Hettie Barnhill (Leap of FaithSpider-man Turn Off the DarkFela!)
Colin Cunliffe, Host (Pippin, Addams Family, Evita, Cry-Baby)
Christina DeCicco (EvitaSister ActSpider-man Turn Off the Dark)
Reg E Gaines (Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk)
Sarah Hunt (The Last Ship)
Megan Lewis (If/ThenSpider-man Turn Off the DarkGrey Gardens)
Sean McDermott (GreaseFalsettosMiss SaigonStarlight Express)
Pat McRoberts (Miss Saigon)
Happy McPartlin (Hands on a Hard Body)
Brad Nacht (Billy Elliot)
Tamlyn Brooke Orlando (42nd StreetDame Edna The Royal Tour)
Heather Parcells (Soul DoctorWonderlandA Chorus LineChitty, Chitty Bang Bang)
Gabrielle Ruiz (In The Heights, Evita)

The benefit was sponsored by: Peak Performance Tours, Pincus Elevator Company, Advanced Staging Productions, Young Adjustment Company and Farmstead Gourmet.

The Broadway Artists Connection – BAC brings together Broadway artists & enthusiasts to create, connect and share their talents for the greater good of our communities.

Creative Arts Team – CAT Youth Theatre.  CAT is a FREE program that helps young people to thrive – on stage and in life. Members create socially relevant original plays while learning vital life skills such as self expression, educational discipline, social consciousness, leadership and responsibility to self and others.  This award winning nonprofit is changing lives through the power of drama.

The Nuyorican Poets Cafe – Over the last 40 years, the Nuyorican Poets Cafe has served as a home for groundbreaking works of poetry, music, theater and visual arts. A multicultural and multi-arts institution, located at 236 E 3rd Street, the Cafe gives voice to a diverse group of rising poets, actors, filmmakers and musicians who have not yet found consistent havens for their work.

Heddie Barnhill Sean McDermott & Heather Parcells 4

Hettie Barnhill                                                   Sean McDermott & Heather Parcells

Sean McDermott & Heather Parcells 18 1cast

Sarah Hunt                                                                Cast

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