On Monday, February 29th, Birdland Jazz Club hosted a packed house with an incredibly talented cast led by author and lyricist Bill Russell. Bill gave wonderful insight on his words, as well as delivering an award worthy performance of one of his monologues! Bill Russell and Janet Hood’s inspirational piece brought tears to a packed house benefiting Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

I have always seen Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens as a piece to celebrate those who have gone, and to heal from their loss. Elegies addresses the time when HIV/AIDS made its introduction by consuming so many, on a massive scale — yet it gives us valuable lessons to learn from history on a personal level. Bill has created a truly gorgeous piece along with the marriage of Janet Hood’s hauntingly beautiful melodies. I pray that this show is produced more often not just as a benefit for those living with the subject of the material, but to help educate our youth that are not as aware of the impact this disease has had- and still has- on our society. Jill Sapenoff and I have always loved this piece and were lucky enough to find the right time and opportunity to bring it to life, yet again, with this incredibly talented cast.

Thank you to Samuel French, Birdland and, the amazingly giving Bill Russell for allowing us to use this piece to benefit such a great cause! It truly was a gorgeous night that brought in a great amount for a great cause.

The cast included Caroline Bowman, Jaime Carper, Natalie Douglas, Sean MacLaughlin, Karen Mason, Josh Young, Nolan Doran, Eleasha Gamble, Jennifer Hope Wills, Natalie Kropf, Lamar Legend, Elaine Matthews, Will Poost, and Mike Longo. Flawless musical direction was lead by William Waldrop.


 

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Bill and the cast take a group shot before the show.

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Sean MacLaughlin, Bill Russell and Jill Sapenoff

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Caroline Bowman reviews her music before delivering a gorgeous opening number.

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Natalie Kropf, Nolan Doran, Jennifer Hope Wills, Lamar Legend and Sean MacLaughlin

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Bill Russell

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Josh Young performing “And the Rain Keeps Falling Down”

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Caroline Bowman and Eleasha Gamble performing “Celebrate”

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Lamar Legend

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Karen Mason performing “My Brother Lived in San Francisco”

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Lamar Legend, Eleasha Gamble, Nolan Doran, Jaime Carper and Elaine Matthews

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Jennifer Hope Wills, Natalie Kropf, Eleasha Gamble, Jaime Cerpero and Nolan Doran “Spend It While You Can”

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Director/Producer Jill Sapenoff thanks the audience before the last song, “Learning to Let Go”

Photos by Kevin Alvey.

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