Wednesday, October 9, 2013


Roses to Richard C. Wall and all those behind “Broadway Sings for Equality NC,” a benefit for the state’s leading LGBT rights organization, at the United Church of Chapel Hill last weekend.
The audience for Saturday afternoon’s show, the second of two performances, was small. But those in the bright chapel with floor-to-ceiling windows saw performances they will surely remember for years to come.
There was a time when the music of Broadway was the popular music of its day. Ed Sullivan brought the stars of New York’s theater district into the nation’s homes, and original cast recordings were bestsellers.
And if those songs sometimes seemed larger than life, they spoke to universal longings, even when society forbid open expressions of love that crossed boundaries of race, ethnicity or gender.
Today, the best of Broadway still breaks barriers, and the best of the old retain a timeless relevance. So it was no surprise, really, when last weekend’s performers sometimes teared up with the audience. After Evelyn McCauley, Greg Travios and Ryan Widd sang a blistering “You Don’t Know/I Am the One,” about a family’s struggle with the wife and mother’s bipolar disorder, director Wall took a breath for all in the hushed room and said simply, “Powerful stuff.”
To close the show, Shelly McVicker, whose version of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Some Enchanted Evening,” had captivated earlier, returned for a duet with Jeri Lynn Schulke.
McVicker started to sing and then suddenly stopped. Had she forgotten a lyric? She didn’t say.
Wall looked up from the keyboard.
“I have to say, being the age I am, there was a time you could get killed for doing this,” he said, as the two women on stage held hands, tears now welling in Schulke’s eyes.
“That’s why buildings like this and causes like this are so important,” Wall continued, “because no one should be denied happiness.”
Bravo to the cast and crew of ‘Broadway Sings.”

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