The New York Civil Liberties Union and American Civil Liberties Union hosted the annual benefit concert, “Broadway Stands Up for Freedom,” on Monday night for a packed house at The Town Hall.

The show featured both existing Broadway tunes and brand-new songs written exclusively for the concert. This year’s theme, We the People, was chosen to represent the ACLU and the NYCLU’s goal of bringing people together to take on the toughest civil liberties challenges of our time.

The iconic concert was created 16 years ago by aspiring musical theater actors to highlight social injustices and civil rights issues through song and spoken word. Monday’s event featured the “Freedom Award,” given to Alan Cumming for his contributions as an artist and activist for human rights.

After speaking about some of the toughest challenges we face in the country and the ways in which the NYCLU and ACLU are fighting back, NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman launched into a scathing critique of Brett Kavanaugh. The new Supreme Court Justice was confirmed despite credible allegations of sexual assault. But in summing up her opening remarks, Lieberman said the night was not about Kavanaugh or President Trump.

“It’s about celebrating,” Lieberman said. “Tonight, it’s time to sing.”

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The show was hosted by actor, comedian, and former Daily Show correspondent Aasif Mandvi. Mandvi received an OBIE Award for his critically acclaimed one-man show Sakina's Restaurant, and he was nominated for a Lucille Lortel Award for his performance in the Pulitzer Prize-winning play Disgraced at Lincoln Center. He is currently reviving Sakina's Restaurant at the Minetta Lane Theatre.

Before presenting this year’s Freedom Award, Mandvi called Cumming a “renaissance man who embodies the principals of liberty and equality.”

“The work of the ACLU and NYCLU is incredibly close to my heart and very much in my bones,” Cumming said. “To be honored by this organization is really a special thing for me.”

The evening was at times stark and sober but was punctuated by moments of joy, celebration and unity. The show featured Broadway Stands Up for Freedom founder and founding performer Liana Stampur, Ada Westfall (A Play on War; Joan of Arc: Into the Fire), Arianna “Ari” Afsar (Hamilton original Chicago cast); Ariana DeBose (Summer: The Donna Summer Musical; A Bronx Tale; Hamilton), Caesar Samayoa (Come from Away; Sister Act); Erich Bergen (Jersey Boys; Waitress; “Madame Secretary”), George Salazar (Be More Chill, Godspell, The Lightning Thief), Kristolyn Lloyd (Dear Evan Hansen), Krysta Rodriguez (First Date; The Addams Family; NBC’s “Smash), Nadia Quinn (Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson), Nick Blaemire (GodspellCry-Baby), Shaina Taub (The Devil Wears Prada; Twelfth Night; Old Hats), Stephanie J. Block (The Cher Show; Falsettos), We McDonald (“The Voice Season 11”), L Morgan Lee (Stu for Silverton; Defiant, Majestic, Beautiful) and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus.

Pieces performed at the concert were:

  • Ari Afsar with “We Won’t Sleep” written by Ari Afsar
  • Erich Bergen with “Freedom” written by George Michael
  • Nick Blaemire with “A Good Guy With A Gun” written by Eli Bolen and Mike Pettry
  • Stephanie J. Block with “Don’t Rain On My Parade” written by Jule Styne and Bob Merrill
  • Ariana Debose and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus with “Huddled Masses” written by Shaina Taub
  • L Morgan Lee and George Salazar with “Suddenly Seymour” written by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman
  • Kristolyn Lloyd with “The Tuba Song” written by Michael Friedman
  • Wé Mcdonald with “This Is Me” written by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul
  • Nadia Quinn with “A Scary Time” written by Lynzy Lab
  • Krysta Rodriguez with “Scars to Your Beautiful” written by Alessia Cara
  • George Salazar with “Kaboom” by Joe Iconis
  • Caesar Samayoa with “America” written by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim
  • Liana Stampur with “We Are Alive” written by Clinton Curtis
  • Shaina Taub and Brooklyn Youth Chorus with “When” written by Shaina Taub
  • Ada Westfall with “I Nominate” written by Ada Westfall

The evening was directed by Daniel Goldstein (Godspell) and produced by Jenna Grossano (Less Than Rent Theatre) with musical direction from Julie McBride (SpongeBob SquarePants, Finding Neverland).

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