Review of “Concert for America: Stand Up, Sing Out!” at The Auditorium Theatre

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Review by: Amanda Runge

Monday, March 20, 2017

Over time the arts have long been something that both comments on society and has the power to rebuild it.  In that spirit the Concert for America: Stand up! Sing out! was created.  Bringing in vocal power from all over the Broadway world this Concert for America certainly lived up to its name.

Concert for America: Stand up! Sing out! is created and organized by Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley, in association with Your Kids, Our Kids, as well as the generous support of The Actors Fund.  It is co-produced by Joey Monda and Frankie Dailey. Concert for America will be directed by Tony nominee Lisa Mordente. This is a concert series that started on inauguration day is hoping to be a monthly live event.

Proceeds from Concert for America: Stand up! Sing out! benefit five national organizations working to protect human rights, civil rights, and the environment: Southern Poverty Law Center, National Immigration Law Center, The Sierra Club Foundation, NAACP and National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Coming into the Auditorium Theater in Chicago is always an event.  With its impressive size and historical Chicago architecture it is a beautiful place for art.  Built in 1889, it has been restored to its original glory.  When you walk into the theater you immediately hit with gold. The 24-karat gold-leafed ceiling arches were twinkling in the lights.
The stage was sparse with a drum set, acoustic and electric guitars, baby grand piano, and 8 microphones placed on the risers. Simple blue lighting and 3 sets of line array speakers were what set the stage for what was to come.
The concert started with the Chicago Children’s Choir singing the national anthem. For those of you at home, Chicago maybe one of the most diverse cities in the world, but it is also one of the most segregated.  This choir brings kids from every Chicago zip code together to make amazing music and their version of the National Anthem did not disappoint.

Then the stars started piling in.  To be honest the concert seemed thrown together, most likely because it was.  Monday is the Equity day off and I’m sure the organizers tried to get as many people as they could.  Some people came from far because of the cause and some were Chicago stars who were happy to volunteer their time.  Instead of this being a negative it actually gave it an air of purity.  This was not a pretentious concert.  This was people coming together.  One of the hosts, James Wesley, said we are doing this so once a month we can come together and remember that “we are connected, we are the majority.” They started with “What the World Needs Now Is Love” sung by the entire cast of the night, joined by an awesome Chicago band.

The third performance of the night was one I will always remember.  Chita Rivera came on stage with the feeling that she was born there.  She could have woken up and immediately came on stage and still put on one of the best performances of “All that Jazz” I will ever see.  At 84 years old she sang better than people a quarter of her age. Her voice was clear, free, and had a beautiful vibrancy.  Plus she had more sass than I have had the pleasure of seeing in some time.

In between performers they introduced people closely linked to the organizations the concerts support. This served to immediately connect the audience with where their money was going and why.  People came out to share their personal stories about abuse, being an immigrant in America today, and discrimination. It made the music even more powerful.

The crowd was emotional as performer after performer came out. Ana Gasteyer performed “The Wizard and I” from Wicked with stunning vocals and natural, beautiful singing.  The next performer was named Emily Bear, even though only 15, she exploded on the piano.  She played a medley of pieces showing off both her raw ability and maturity beyond her years.

The concert continued with Chicago favorite Lynne Jordan came on stage and rocked the whole theater her incredible voice.  Alex Newell, singer best known from Glee, sang a beautiful rendition of “I Know Where I’ve Been” from Hairspray.  The song poured out of him.  His beautiful range and freedom flowed freely and showed such intense passion that he had the room captivated.

The concert finished with a bang as the entire cast came back out sang “Let the Sunshine In” from Hair.  Overall the show was raw, emotional outpouring of support for the causes and organizations it was meant to support.  It was not by any means flawless, but art was definitely made.

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Release date: March 16, 2017

CONCERT FOR AMERICA: STAND UP, SING OUT! ANNOUNCES ADDITIONAL GUESTS

STARS FROM CHICAGO FIRE, GLEE, AND SPAMILTON JOIN CHITA RIVERA, ANA GASTEYER, CHICAGO CAST OF HAMILTON, AND MORE

Concert for America on Monday, March 20, at 8PM

 

CHICAGO – CONCERT FOR AMERICA: STAND UP, SING OUT! is proud to announce that Torrey Devitto (Chicago Med), Colin Donnell (Chicago Med), Yuri Sardarov (Chicago Fire), Alex Newell (Glee), Christine Pedi (Spamilton, Forbidden Broadway), and Chicago Children’s Choir will join the previously announced cast of performers and presenters, including Chita Rivera, Melissa Manchester, Alice Ripley, Ana Gasteyer, the Chicago cast of Hamilton, Sharon Gless, Lynne Jordan, Marya Grandy, and Emily Bear. The third edition of CONCERT FOR AMERICA will take place on Monday, March 20, at 8PM at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University in Chicago (50 E Congress Pkwy). Tickets are available now at AuditoriumTheatre.org.

A concert of songs, comedy, and commentary, CONCERT FOR AMERICA has been hailed by the New York Times as “striking for its emphasis on the importance of faith in the United States and optimism about its future.” The innovation of Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley, who also organized the Broadway For Orlando/What the World Needs Now is Love recording, CONCERT FOR AMERICA: STAND UP, SING OUT! debuted its monthly series to universal acclaim at New York City’s The Town Hall on January 20 and performed the second concert there in February.

Proceeds from CONCERT FOR AMERICA: STAND UP, SING OUT! will benefit five national organizations working to protect human rights: Southern Poverty Law Center, National Immigration Law Center, The Sierra Club Foundation, NAACP, and National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Tickets start at $18 and are available at AuditoriumTheatre.org, by phone at 312.341.2300, and at the Auditorium Theatre Box Office. Participating performers are subject to change.

For those unable to attend CONCERT FOR AMERICA in person, it will be broadcast via the Concert for America page on Facebook Live and at ConcertsforAmerica.com, beginning at 8PM CT on Monday, March 20.

CONCERT FOR AMERICA: STAND UP, SING OUT! is created and organized by Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley, in association with Your Kids, Our Kids, as well as the generous support of The Actors Fund.  It is co-produced by Joey Monda and Frankie DaileyCONCERT FOR AMERICA will be directed by Tony nominee Lisa Mordente.

The next CONCERT FOR AMERICA will return to New York in April.

For more information, to purchase tickets, or to make a donation, visit ConcertsforAmerica.comFacebook.com/ConcertForAmerica, or follow @Concert4America on Twitter.

Performance and Ticket Information

Concert for America

Monday, March 20 | 8PM

Tickets start at $18 and are available at AuditoriumTheatre.org, by phone at 312.341.2300, or in person at the Auditorium Theatre Box Office (50 E Congress Pkwy).

About The Auditorium Theatre

The Auditorium Theatre, located at 50 E Congress Pkwy in Chicago, is an Illinois, not-for-profit organization committed to presenting the finest in international, cultural, community and educational programming to Chicago, and to the continued restoration and preservation of the National Historic Landmark.

The Auditorium Theatre 2016-17 Season is made possible in part with support from the MacArthur Foundation, the Illinois Arts Council and the Palmer House Hilton. For more information about programming, volunteer and donor opportunities or theatre tours, call 312.341.2310 or visit AuditoriumTheatre.org. For a complete listing of events at the Auditorium Theatre, please click here.

Auditorium Theatre photo by Carlos Rosas.
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