It’s a rare achievement to see Broadway legends like Chita Rivera and Bebe Neuwirth perform any of the music from Chicago live, let alone together. (Rivera portrayed the murderous Velma Kelly in the original 1975 production, while Neuwirth came on board for the 1996 revival, returning to the show a decade later to play Roxie Hart. As an added bonus, Neuwirth returned once more to play the role of prison matron Mama Morton in 2014, marking her as the first person to play three different characters at three separate times during the course of a single Broadway run). Earlier this week, that changed as these performers were came together to save a New York City institution.
In an effort to save legendary Manhattan jazz venue Birdland, Rivera and Neuwirth were joined by a litany of Broadway performers for a virtual rendition of Kander and Ebb’s “All That Jazz” as part of the January 24 Save Birdland: A Celebration of Music, History and Community
Broadway legends and Tony-lauded Rivera and Neuwirth were joined by Jacqueline Arnold, Brenda Braxton, Aisha de Haas, Michelle Dowdy, Mandy Gonzalez, Deidra Goodwin, Amy Hillner Larsen, Amanda Lopez, Karen Mason, Christine Pedi, Mary Testa, Amra-Faye Wright, and Karen Ziemba for the virtual rendition of the Broadway classic, introduced by the sensational Randy Rainbow.
The segment was arranged and edited by Billy Ricce (composer of A Musical About Star Wars). The event itself was produced by Tom D’Angora, Michael D’Angora, and Tim Guinee. The event (now streaming for free on SaveBirdland.com) features a cavalcade of legendary Broadway performers. With a mixture of beloved jazz performers, Broadway performers, and Hollywood notables, these legends came together for one evening to give back to one of New York City’s beloved performance institutions.
Theater producer Tom D’Angora, one of the people behind this massive effort to save the iconic location summed up why saving Birdland and other locations like it, is so crucial. He told Playbill “We have to have our places when this is over—places where we can get drunk and hear our friends sing,” D’Angora says. “We need community. It’s the only way we’ll survive.”
The Save Birdland concert is currently available at SaveBirdland.com
To donate, check out the ‘Save Birdland’ GoFundMe page