Sunday, February 5, 2017
The Broadway National Tour cast of Wicked came to The Abbey, (100 S Eola Dr #100, Orlando, FL 32801) for a one-night only charitable cabaret concert benefiting Broadway Cares/Equity fights AIDS and the GLBT Center of Central Florida. Net proceeds (ticket sales included) from the benefit will specifically help fund counseling for the community, survivors, and family members affected by the Pulse tragedy. Counseling services will be needed for at least the next five years, and The Center Orlando has pledged that it will make these services available to the community on walk-in basis, free of charge, for as long as it is needed.
The opening act was by Wicked Alumna, Broadway veteran, X-Factor star, Nashville recording artist and Florida native Rachel Potter with her band, Steel Union. Rachel had a new born and she said that the baby had slept through the night for the first time ever on the evening before the performance. She had worked at Disney World as The Little Mermaid for five years after college. After a full set with Steel Union she offered to sing as Ariel. The audience joined in as she sang, "I want mooore." Her Disney roots won the audience. She played down her X-Factor experience saying that at least s gained a few twitter followers. Rachel went on to perform a solo from Wicked that got a standing ovation.
Song and dance performances by the cast members of Wicked followed. The Abbey house lights went black, and I had to stop sketching for fear that my tablet glow might ruin the experience for other audience members. The opening number featured wicked actresses in sexy black lace and garters dancing to the sexy and risque Cabaret. "We have no troubles here. Here life is beautiful!" Rosy, Lulu, Frenchy, and Texas gyrated with abandon.All our troubles were left outside.
Wicked After Dark was produced by the company members of Wicked themselves. This post-Wicked performance cabaret was an opportunity for cast members to step out of their roles in the musical and kick up their heels performing some of their favorite non-Ozian material. On actor who is the understudy for OZ took to the stag with a guitar and cowboy hat. His microphone had to be adjusted endlessly. As a tech struggled, he said, "Well this had better be worth it. No pressure." The audience laughed. He then sang an original balled about love lost. The gentle lyrics bemoaned his confusion and pain. Then be paused. The next line was something like. "What I wish for you is... Herpes." The audience went crazy. Michael Wanzie shouted out, "It was so worth it!
Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS is the nation’s leading industry-based, nonprofit AIDS fundraising and grant-making organization. It offers an ongoing, committed response from the American theater community to an urgent worldwide health crisis. By drawing upon the talents, resources and generosity of this community, The organization raises funds for AIDS-related causes across the United States. Since its founding in 1988, more than $150 million has been raised for critically needed services for people with AIDS, HIV and other serious illnesses. For more information, visit www.broadwaycares.org.
The Center was the first agency on the scene of the Pulse Orlando tragedy on the morning of June 12, 2016; within two hours had more than 600 volunteers and community members inside its doors, had rallied more than 600 crisis counselors to the area, and had coordinated the distribution of supplies to first responders, hospitals, families, blood banks and more. Since that day, as well as its regular operations, The Center now also staffs the Orlando United Assistance Center which is the mail portal for the survivors and the families of the deceased; The Center was described as “Ground Zero for victim and family recovery” by President Obama. For more information, visit www.thecenterorlando.org.