On Monday, June 29, hosts Seth Rudetsky (also serving as musical conductor for the night) and James Wesley hosted a special event at the St. James Theatre to raise awareness about the struggle foster children face. Many foster kids between the ages of ten and twenty one are not adopted. The event “Voices For the Voiceless: Stars For Foster Kids,” featured many big stars who came together to perform musical numbers and monologues to raise money for You Gotta Believe. It is New York’s only nonprofit that specifically focuses on finding families for youth in foster care who are aged ten or older. A portion of the proceeds also went to the Council on Adoptable Children (COAC). Some of the stars that performed on the Broadway stage were Tina Fey, Tituss Burgess, Rachel Crow, Antwone Fisher, Darren Criss, Megan Hilty, Janic Huff, Jane Krakowski, Alex Mapa, Andrea McArdle, Caroline Rhea, Tony Shellman, Kate Shindle, Charlene Tilton, and many more.
The night started off with hosts Seth and James talking about why they created this event and how signifiant You Gotta Believe is. Throughout the night, children and adults who were part of the foster care system came on the stage and told their stories of being adopted or wanting to be adopted to help drive home the point that family is really, really important. Each musical performance was introduced by someone who was or still is part of the foster care system and each star was asked to perform a meaningful song. The first performance of the night was Eden Espinosa singing one of her hit songs “Defying Gravity.”
The next memorable moment was when fashion mogul Tony Shellman stepped on stage. He talked about his memories of being a foster child. He talked about what it was like being placed in a family and how much love and support he received from them. He introduced Tituss Burgess who sang “A Song for You” by Donny Hathaway. Shellman said this was was very special to he and his foster mom. Tituss has been featured in four Broadway musicals and is known for his high tenor voice. While singing this song, he made it his own with his many high notes.
Charlene Tilton, star of the original TV show “Dallas” came on stage to talk about her life in the system. Tilton has been in foster care many times in her life because her mother constantly suffered from nervous breakdowns and being sent to the mental ward. However, when she was seven and had a few days with her mother, they went to go see “The Sound of Music.” After seeing that show, she felt a sense of hope and wonderment that can only be attributed to the music within the film. She introduced Megan Hilty who, along with a group of children, sand the classic song “Do Re Mi.” This performance was one of the most memorable moments of the night. Hilty demonstrated her incredible vocal range.
After that performance, Caroline Rhea came on stage to host the auction. Items up for grabs inluded: Josh Groban tickets to any of his concerts, a meet and greet with Groban, sheet music from “Somewhere” signed by Groban and Barbara Streisand, tickets to “The Ellen Show,” an Ellen gift basket, two Jet Blue tickets to Los Angeles, and actor Kaley Cuoco threw in tickets to go see a taping of “The Big Bang Theory.” The final item was a chance to take the St. James Theatre stage and be serenaded by Darren Criss who ended up singing “Close to You” by The Carpenters as well “Teenage Dream” by Katy Perry.
One of the last highlights of the night was when actor and comedian, Tina Fey took the stage to give a little speech. Tina had a performance of sorts where she basically deconstructed the song “Don’t Cry Out Loud” by Peter Allen and Carole Bayer Sager. She said that initially the song seemed great, but as she got older she realized how terrible the lyrics were. To help her demonstrate this, actor Jane Krakowski came on stage to sing the song. After each line Tina added her commentary on how this song is very bad. It was hilarious. But, towards the end of the song Tina gave in to the catchiness of the song, took a mic, and sang along with Jane. After that, Jane decided that the spotlight should only be on her and took Tina’s mic and sang the end of the song with two mics in hand. More than $500,000 was raised by the amazing event presented by BeachBody. Read what the stars shared on the red carpet:
E: Speak about supporting this charity?
AF: I was a foster kid and I grew up without a family and James called me and told me that funding was being taken away from this organization that he felt was a really good organization, trying to help provide young people with families be defining for them. And you know, because of my own growing up and always wanting a family, I thought it would be a good thing – if my being here would be a good thing to do.
E: And how can people help support this organization and their mission?
AF: There is always need for good foster parents, people who have room in their homes, the openhearted people. And sometimes, the hardest foster children to take are teenage boys, which I was one, and I was never adopted or anything, and so I think if people up more for teenage boys, that might be beneficial. I tuned out alright, a little bumpy, but alright. I know people who say that they would’ve taken me but that’s now and back then I was a rough character.
E: And any projects that are upcoming that you would like to share?
AF: I am doing an independent film. I am writing it and it is called “Bayview Hunter’s Point” which is a community in San Francisco and the story is about a boy named Michael and him having a difficult life and finding a way out and going back and the difference that it made in his life.
E: What is it like for you supporting this charity and being at this event?
MH: We are here to support these foster kids who desperately, desperately need our funds and our attention and support. Especially these older foster kids who don’t necessarily get adopted as easily as infants and toddlers.
E: And what are you most excited for in regards to this event?
MH: I am both excited and nervous to hear all the personal stories from the foster kids, both the kids who are in foster care now and ones who were former foster kids who are now grownups and supporting themselves. I am excited to hear their stories. Their stories are incredibly inspiring but at the same time heartbreaking so I have mixed emotions.