I’ll admit it straight out… my night was completely made possible by my actor-idolization-slash-obsession and dream of seeing Meryl Streep live in New York City! To my pleasant surprise my inspiration was expanded to a group of artists and child performers that Streep introduced to the audience tonight for An Evening of SeriousFun Celebrating the Legacy of Paul Newman at the Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center.
The child performers were campers with SeriousFun Children’s Network and all had one very important thing in common, which was that they all live with medical conditions or serious illness and wanted to share how their camps have helped them to discover joy, confidence and friendships free of charge. The children showcased some serious talent tonight by singing songs and playing instruments. They joined a history of performers who have graced New York stages through the ages and allowed us to escape through laughter and tears – which is really an act of giving. Most importantly, their mothers were behind them and paying tribute to Paul Newman’s generosity in founding this organization.
There is something to be said about watching skilled female singers like Natalie Cole, Renee Fleming and Carole King performing for a cause like SeriousFun. There is no mistaking how talented these ladies are, but when I watched them donate their performances to a cause they believe in I really became a fan of, not only their work, but of them as people. They were having so much fun on that stage with a live orchestra!
I also must mention Aloe Blacc because he had me in the palm of his hand, that he literally held out symbolically, as he sang about the journey of a child and mother. In the program he’s quoted as saying, “What it comes down to in my songwriting is trying to tell the story of the underdog and all the obstacles they have to overcome in this life”. His statement rang true tonight as he dedicated his performance to the SeriousFun children and their mothers. In the words of Tom Hanks, who was quite tearful while reading aloud a letter from a child’s mother who benefited from the camps, “Oh I’m a sap!”
In the end I’m happy to report that, sitting in a box on the third tier of Avery Fisher Hall, I also found use for my fancy opera binoculars gifted to me over the holidays by my friend who knows me well… a theatre goer with poor natural eyesight!
In all seriousness, this is a really great cause and I couldn’t go to sleep without passing the message along so consider this blog post my virtual version of that ol’ camp game of ‘telephone’. However, it’s my hope that the message stays in tact that the SeriousFun Children’s Network is a worthwhile cause to support!