Entertainment :: Theatre

Broadway Against Bullying

by Robert Sokol
Contributor
Friday Dec 6, 2013
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Stars who sang out against bullying include (l-r): Julia Murney, Colin Cunliffe, Josh Franklin, Daniel Reichard, Patrick McCollum, and Rona Figueroa
Stars who sang out against bullying include (l-r): Julia Murney, Colin Cunliffe, Josh Franklin, Daniel Reichard, Patrick McCollum, and Rona Figueroa  (Source:images@baystages.com)

A passel of Bay Area and Broadway talents joined forces for the second annual "Broadway Against Bullying" benefit concert held at Club Fugazi, long-time North Beach home of San Francisco’s long-time hit "Beach Blanket Babylon." The event raised funds for the No Bully campaign, which works to eliminate bullying in schools, where an estimated 30 percent of all students are affected.

Hosted by KPIX television personality Liam Mayclem, the evening featured performances by Broadway actors Colin Cunliffe ("Pippin"), Rona Figueroa ("Les Misérables"), Josh Franklin ("Anything Goes" national tour), Jay Armstrong Johnson ("Hands on a Hardbody"), Julia Murney ("Wicked"), Daniel Reichard ("Jersey Boys"), Keala Settle ("Hands on a Hardbody"), Alysha Umphress ("American Idiot") and choreographer Patrick McCollum.

For some, like Bay Area natives Figueroa and Umphress, it was a homecoming and the home team was clearly there in the audience to cheer them on. Others were making quick visits, including Cunliffe, who had to catch a red-eye before the Monday night concert’s final bow, in order to get back to New York in time for his Tuesday night performance in "Pippin."

The range of entertainment was wide and expertly managed by Carl Pantle, principal accompanist for the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, who served as the night’s musical director, with an assist from Juan Carreon on drums and Justin Wilson on bass.

The emotional highlight, however, was Settle, fighting laryngitis, who nonetheless managed a searing rendition of "I’m Here" from "The Color Purple" that could easy be adopted as No Bully’s anthem.

There were show tunes, holiday-ish tunes ("Baby, It’s Cold Outside") and original material, including a touching song by Figueroa about growth and empowerment, that was fit for the evening’s anti-bullying theme. Murney had a bitchy-funny moment with an anti-"12 Days of Christmas" riff, and McCollum brought a bit of variety by adding an amusing dance piece to the mix. The emotional highlight, however, was Settle, fighting laryngitis, who nonetheless managed a searing rendition of "I’m Here" from "The Color Purple", that could easy be adopted as No Bully’s anthem.

Founder and Executive Director Nicholas Carlisle spoke passionately about the program’s mission, its successes and ongoing challenges, which naturally included funding. He stated that it only took $30 per child for the program to deliver a non-punitive system that deploys "a series of evidence-based interventions for preventing and responding to bullying", focused on both the bully and the bullied.

A graduated "auction" allowed people to pledge financial support from figures involving commas, right down to that $30 per child minimum. Premium ticket holders then got to retire to the wonderful North Beach institution, The Rose Pistola, for what Edina from "Ab Fab" would call "some lovely bubbly and nibbly bits."

No production credits were given in the program, but clearly a lot of people worked very hard on supporting this important cause, including substantial support from premium San Francisco PR firm Charles Zukow & Associates.

"Broadway Against Bullying" took place on December 2 at Club Fugazi, 678 Green St. in San Francisco. For more information or to make a donation, visit http://nobully.com

Robert Sokol is the editor at BAYSTAGES, the creative director at VIA MEDIA, and the program manager for The [TBA] Awards. Writer, diva wrangler, cinefiler, and occasional saloon singer, he has been touching showbiz all his life. (So far no restraining orders have been issued!) His by-line also appears in the San Francisco Examiner, Theatre Bay Area Magazine, The Sondheim Review, and other regional or national publications and websites.

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