While most of us will be celebrating Independence Day remotely this year, there’s a significant selection of virtual performances by New York theater artists that will enrich your 4th of July week. In addition to the highly anticipated Disney + release of the live-captured Hamilton movie on Friday, July 3, this meaningful assortment of songs, stories, and conversations is sure to bring spectacular entertainment and current import to America’s traditional commemoration of freedom.
Florencia Cuenca, “Burn” – Born in Mexico City and based in New York, actress, singer, and songwriter Florencia Cuenca has just released an original reimagined cover of “Burn,” one of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s iconic songs from Hamilton. With music production by Jaime Lozano, arrangements and orchestration by Lozano and Jesús Altamira, accompaniment by a top-notch band of Latinx musicians (Marilyn Castillo on vihuela, Pavel Cal on guitar, Rudyck Vidal on guitarrón, Gerardo “Quirri” Padilla on accordion, Luis Cardoso on violin, and Carlos Garza on trumpet), and programming by Demián Cantú, Cuenca’s richly resonant voice and impassioned heartfelt performance capture the depth of a woman’s agony over her husband’s infidelity, made even more painful by its public revelation. This powerful bilingual mariachi version is part of Cuenca’s new project “Broadway en Spanglish,” which puts a Latin spin on familiar Broadway songs by introducing listeners to a mix of the musical traditions of her two cultures and “how an immigrant woman learning a second language sounds when she speaks.” Her American dream is to create more opportunities for artists, like herself, from under-represented communities. This moving song and video, available for viewing here and on YouTube, should help to make that dream come true.
And So We Come Forth: A Dinner on Zoom – Following the viral success of What Do We Need To Talk About – the preceding Zoom episode of his decade-long series of real-time plays on The Apple Family (presented by The Public Theater since 2010) – writer and director Richard Nelson is remotely reuniting members of the original cast (Stephen Kunken, Sally Murphy, Maryann Plunkett, Laila Robins, and Jay O. Sanders), all performing from their homes, for another online world premiere of the latest installment in his ongoing epic The Rhinebeck Panorama. Set in early July of 2020, amidst protests against racial injustice and the easing of coronavirus lockdowns, the interactions and discussions of this fictional everyday American family from upstate New York during a dinnertime Zoom meeting reveal the confusion, doubts, fears, ambiguities, and complexities of the human condition in our current era of national and global crisis. The virtual play, presented by Apple Family Productions and written by Nelson specifically to be performed on Zoom, runs 70 minutes without intermission and will be streamed for eight weeks beginning on July 1, at 7:30 pm. Viewing on YouTube and the company’s website is free, but proceeds from voluntary donations will benefit The Actors Fund, as requested by the cast.
Just One Step for Democracy – A newly formed coalition of Broadway and Hollywood stars and activists, Just One Step for Democracy (JOS4D) is launching a voter-awareness campaign beginning at noon on July 1, with a special virtual event on Saturday, July 4, designed to communicate the urgent issues affecting communities and the importance of turning out the vote on this year’s momentous Election Day (Tuesday, November 3, 2020). The multimedia initiative, founded and led by Broadway’s Arnetia Walker (Dreamgirls) with director Stephen Nachamie (She Loves Me), will feature exclusive online premieres of original performances of music, theater, dance, spoken word, and more, by activist members from the Broadway and Off-Broadway stages. The lineup includes Walker, Nachamie, Adrian Bailey (Jelly’s Last Jam; Smokey’s Joe’s Cafe), Yvette Cason (Dreamgirls), Bobby Daye (Shrek the Musical; The Color Purple), Sylvia MacCalla (Rent; Hairspray), Roger Ian Rosen (Fiddler on the Roof), Ariel Estrada (Rising Leader of Color, Theatre Communications Group), Rona Siddiqui (2020 Jonathan Larson Award recipient), and others – all with the goal of educating, encouraging, and empowering American citizens to effect a more just society. Performances will be released on social media platforms and on the coalition’s website.
Along with Hamilton, these three top picks for streaming this week offer thought-provoking and purposeful viewing that underscores the essence of the 4th of July.