After nearly a year’s hiatus due to the pandemic, Off-Broadway’s award-winning York Theatre Company – founded in 1969, and noted for developing and producing new musicals and resurrecting neglected musical gems from the past – was hit with another devastating blow. On January 4, 2021, a water main break caused massive flooding and extensive damage to its longtime home base in the lower level of St. Peter’s Church, at 619 Lexington Avenue. Consequently, The York has been temporarily forced to relocate for the first time in nearly 30 years, with its contents moved to various storage facilities across the tri-state area, while the venue undergoes major restoration.
In addition to launching a GoFundMe campaign, which to date has raised more than $130,000 of its $350,000 goal, producers Tom D’Angora, Michael D’Angora, and Tim Guinee, who previously initiated successful fundraising efforts to save the West Bank Cafe and Birdland Jazz Club, have once again come to the rescue with a benefit event scheduled for Sunday, April 18, to help The York recover and rebuild. The trio, in association with The York and through The Theatre Authority, Inc., has taken the lead in organizing a virtual presentation of the hilarious hit The Musical of Musicals (The Musical!). A perfect choice for the fundraiser, the show by Eric Rockwell (book and music) and Joanne Bogart (book and lyrics) made its Off-Broadway debut at the theater for an extended engagement in 2003, following the company’s help in developing and creating it, then subsequently transferring it to New World Stages for a smashing 500-performance run in 2005.
A loving homage to Broadway’s Golden Age, it consists of five mini-musical parodies, each telling the same story, but in the different signature styles of the legendary Rodgers & Hammerstein, Stephen Sondheim, Jerry Herman, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and Kander & Ebb. The special benefit presentation will be directed by Tom D’Angora and Michael D’Angora, with music direction and arrangements by Deniz Cordell, and artistic supervision by original director Pamela Hunt.
The all-star event features a previously announced roster of stage and screen luminaries, including Tony Award winners Betty Buckley, Matthew Broderick, André De Shields, Jane Krakowski, Patti LuPone, Audra McDonald, Donna Murphy, Mandy Patinkin, Chita Rivera, and Lillias White; Oscar and Tony Award winner Mercedes Ruehl; Drama Desk Award winners Lewis Black, Richard Kind, Jose Llana, and Isaac Mizrahi; Olivier Award winner Lesli Margherita; Emmy Award winner Debra Messing; Tony Award nominees Andrea McArdle, Brad Oscar, and Ethan Slater; Emmy Award nominees Giancarlo Esposito, Martha Plimpton, and Randy Rainbow; Lucille Lortel Award winner Soara-Joye Ross; and fan-favorite mega-talents Christy Altomare, Colleen Ballinger, Kevin Smith Kirkwood, Kelvin Moon Loh, Telly Leung, Christine Pedi, Jelani Remy, Jackie Sanders, and Michael West. Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is also slated to make an appearance.
It was just announced that they will be joined by special guests and performers Gerard Alessandrini, Iain Armitage, Sara Bareilles, Debra Barsha, Nell Benjamin, Alexandra Billings, Charles Busch, Douglas J. Cohen, Robert Creighton, Gretchen Cryer, Nancy Ford, Ana Gasteyer, Amanda Green, Joel Grey, Erik Haagensen, Sheldon Harnick, Perez Hilton, Megan Hilty, Joe Iconis, Tom Jones, Peter Kellogg, Amanda Lopez, Beth Leavel, Darlene Love, Richard Maltby, Jr., Alan Menken, Lauren Molina, Julianne Moore, Jinkx Monsoon, Laurence O’Keefe, Bernadette Peters, Anthony Rapp, George Salazar, Stephen Schwartz, Marc Shaiman, Brooke Shields, David Shire, Sarah Stiles, Charles Strouse, Renée Taylor, John Tartaglia, Stephen Temperley, Ben Vereen, John Weidman, David Yazbek, and Maury Yeston.
James Morgan, Producing Artistic Director at The York, noted, “The incredible outpouring of support over the past several months is impressive and very touching. To have Tom and Michael and Tim step forward at this point to bring us to the next level is truly exciting. We cannot wait for this show, which we originally helped bring to life, to be seen in this whole new way – and with this spectacular cast.”
Tom and Michael responded, “The York has been near and dear to our hearts since the moment we moved to NYC two decades ago. Jim Morgan and The York helped us, as they have for so many in our community, to get our start in this industry and we are honored and humbled to be able to help this iconic theater get through this puddle in the road so they can continue to do what they do best: bring musicals to life!”
The Musical of Musicals (The Musical!) premieres on Sunday, April 18, at 7:00 pm, on the York Theatre Company website and will be available to view on demand through Wednesday, April 21. Viewing is free, but donations to save The York are encouraged via the GoFundMe link, with a donor matching challenge of up to $50,000 through April 17.