The Rosie O’Donnell show was something I watched a lot as a kid. It always celebrated Broadway, koosh balls were thrown, and it was the kind of light daytime talk show a kid could enjoy. (The Bonnie Hunt Show was another one I loved, and of course Oprah! OK, maybe I just always liked daytime talk shows.) So Rosie has a special place in my heart, but to see so many special people show up for her and The Actor’s Fund shows that she has the entire Broadway community in her rolodex and knows how to use it – towards helping those most vulnerable to loss of income in this difficult time.
The Actors Fund provides a safety net for entertainment professionals. Actors, yes; but also stagehands, electricians, costumers, ushers and the everyday people that make theatre, film and television work. Right now, the Coronavirus safety measures mean that entire industries like this are unable to work because it can only be done in large groups. This occurred right after a traditionally slower winter season was just beginning to give way. Gig workers make up almost the entire entertainment industry; health insurance coverage is rare and showing up to work is often the only way to get paid. The Actors Fund can help bridge the gap and this fundraiser alone provided more than $600,000!
The show Rosie O’Donnell and Erich Bergen produced for this fundraiser is a cavalcade of short visits from Broadway royalty the likes of Patty Lupone, Sutton Foster and Judith Light. We got a beautiful version of “Being Alive” from Darren Criss, Alan Menkin played a medley of his Disney tunes, and Billy Porter reminded us that he and Rosie’s generation led the charge of being LGBTQ out and proud and are some of the lucky few from that group to experience the benefits. Gavin Creel and a couple others shared their diagnosis contracting Covid-19. There were some technical errors and Kelli O’Hara and Adrienne Warren had to come back later for their performances. It was only scheduled for an hour but because they wanted to show like a hundred actors, it lasted three and a half hours – no intermission, no breaks, only actor after actor chipping in from home.