Broadway Cares.

Earl and I attended “Wicked” last night at the Landmark Theatre in Syracuse, the second to last performance of this tour in the Salt City. The show was magnificent. Honestly, we both enjoyed the show more than when we saw it on Broadway back in 2011. The cast, the lighting, the energy, the sound, the entire performance was top notch and worth every penny we spent on tickets.

After the curtain calls and the standing ovation, the cast came back on stage, asked everyone to settle down and explained about Broadway Cares.

The Mission Statement of Broadway Cares (courtesy of their website).

  • To mobilize the unique abilities within the entertainment industry to mitigate the suffering of individuals affected by HIV/AIDS;
  • To ensure direct support specifically through the social services and programs of The Actors Fund to all individuals in the entertainment industry affected by critical health issues, including but not limited to HIV/AIDS;
  • To support organizations across the country which provide treatment or services for people specifically affected by HIV/AIDS and their families;
  • To promote and encourage public support for national and international programs and services which benefit people with HIV/AIDS;
  • To increase public awareness and understanding of HIV/AIDS through the creation and dissemination of educational materials;
  • To support efforts by the entertainment industry to address other critical health issues or respond to an emergency, in each case as approved by the Board of Trustees;
  • To support efforts by the entertainment industry in other charitable or educational endeavors, in each case as approved by the Board of Trustees.

The leads announced that if each attendee in the audience gave just $3 on their way out of the theatre last night, they would raise $8,000 for this worthy cause from that one performance alone.

To me, that’s quite awesome. You see, as a gay man in my late 40s I’ve been to too many funerals of those that have died for AIDS and other HIV related illnesses. I have a concern that today’s generation doesn’t realize the impact that AIDS and HIV had on the world, let alone the gay community, 25-30 years ago. Many think that they pop a pill once a day and they’re impervious to HIV. While there are thousands of people that live their lives with HIV, it’s still not something that should be taken lightly. We’ve made amazing strides in treatments and keeping things manageable, but with the turmoil in health care funding currently taking place in the United States, things could get much uglier, really fast.

As the cast talked about Broadway Cares and encouraged the audience to donate on their way out of the theatre, there was talk about some swag with certain contribution amounts. Earl and I spoke briefly and decided that we would make a contribution, we weren’t really concerned with the swag, we just wanted to make the world a better place and this was a really good avenue.

On our way out, as we stopped to make our contribution with a costumed cast member, we were asked if we wanted to join the backstage tour of the Landmark Theatre and the behind the scenes magic of the show. The tour was led by Kristen Martin, the talented actress that plays NessaRose, who becomes “The Wicked Witch of the East”. We learned all about her special wheelchair that she uses for the majority of the production and a bunch of other abracadabra to make Oz seem so magical.

The backstage tour was longer and more in-depth than I expected. Pictures were forbidden outside of two specific locations along the tour, in the middle of the stage looking out on the seating area and in front of the great Wizard of Oz.

The Landmark Theatre is a relatively small theater and the touring company was barely able to squeeze everything necessary into the backstage area to make things happen. As productions get bigger, some of the older theaters require some creativity to make all of that magic you see on stage.

We really enjoyed the tour and seeing some of the backstage magic. But more importantly, Earl and I agreed that we were two lucky guys to be able to contribute to “Broadway Cares”.