Broadway Unlocked concert with Andrew Keenan-Bolger, Taylor Trensch and more, rocks for a good cause

Jason Hite, Eryn Murman and 5J Barrow kick off the show

Jason Hite, Eryn Murman and 5J Barrow kick off the show

Broadway Unlocked showcased the youth and energy of Broadway’s up and coming last night in a concert to benefit the Crime Victims Treatment Center of St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital (CVTC). Among the many performers of the night were Jason Hite (Bare) and Eryn Murman (Spring Awakening) with their 5J Barrow band, Jay Armstrong Johnson and Allison Case (Hands on a Hardbody), Chris Miller and Nathan Tysen (composer and lyricist, Tuck Everlasting), Andrew Keenan-Bolger (Newsies) and Taylor Trensch (Matilda). The talent on display at the Greene Space in New York City was fun and exciting, and not just for those sitting in the intimate concert room.

That’s because Broadway Unlocked wasn’t just any concert. Broadway Unlocked is an exciting blend of charity benefit, social media interaction and crowd funded enterprise that is broadcasted on the internet for all who donate to the concert. Broadway Unlocked bills itself as Broadway’s first crowdfunded, interactive, webcast concert. That meant that people from all over the country could tune in to watch the performance in exchange for helping a good a cause.

For those who were in physical attendance, the atmosphere was a buzz. Donors sipped on wine and beer and bid on items at the silent auction before the show. Most of the action was in the mingling of Broadway fans and supporters of CVTC, but Stage Door Dish did get a quick chance to chat with Andrew Keenan-Bolger.

Andrew Keenan-Bolger

Andrew Keenan-Bolger

In the few minutes before he went to prepare for his performance, we got to ask him these questions:

SDD: So, we’re big fans of your entire family, Celia, Maggie, and you. Can you tell us where all this talent comes from?

AKB: Well, it trickles down from the top. Celia is so talented, and obviously she’s older, so growing up we all idolized her.

SDD: What are you up to now?

AKB: We just wrapped the third season of my web series, Submissions Only, just last week. And now I’m filming a movie.

SDD: Is there anything you tell us about the movie?

AKB: I can’t tell you much. It’s a studio picture, and it’s filming here in New York.

SDD: That’s exciting. What’s the update on Tuck Everlasting? The show is still waiting for a home, isn’t it?

AKB: Yes, we’re still waiting, and still looking forward to sharing this wonderful story. It is happening, it will happen.

SDD: What do you think about tonight, about the concert?

AKB: This thing is great. The fact that it’s a grassroots project, totally homegrown, it’s really exciting.

SDD: And what are you singing tonight?

AKB: I’m singing my character’s first song from Tuck Everlasting and I’m really excited to share this show with the world.

SDD: Thanks for chatting with us!

AKB: Thank you.

To hear more from Keenan-Bolger, check out his recent interview with SDD here.

The concert started soon after when Broadway Unlocked chair Jessica Ryan and host Jermaine Blackwell introduced and kicked off the show. Online viewers signed in and Hite, Murman and their talented band 5J Barrow opened with a rocking, contemplative song from their indie/folkrock/earth band repertoire. Their gutsy combination of acoustic guitar, piano, fiddle, bass and drums provided exciting backing music throughout the rest of the night.

Jay Armstrong Johnson and Allison Case perform "I'm Gone"

Jay Armstrong Johnson and Allison Case perform “I’m Gone”

Up next were the recently announced Hands on a Hardbody cast members Johnson and Case to sing their show’s hit song, “I’m Gone.” Before each performer sang their song, hosts Ryan and Blackwell asked them questions taken from Twitter. Armstrong’s favorite moment in the show? “Definitely ‘If I Had a Truck.’ When all those voices come in, it’s exciting.” Case’s favorite moment was, fittingly, “I’m Gone.” Their performance together was filled with a longing for a better world, made all the more earnest by Hands on a Hardbody’s recent closing. They assured us that the show will live on in an original cast recording and announced they are going into the studio this week to begin work.

Taylor Trensch adjusts the mic stand

Taylor Trensch adjusts the mic stand

Trensch took the stage to applause, wearing a hip black beanie, and sang “Disappear” from Miller and Tysen’s Burnt Part Boys, with Miller accompanying on piano. The song of dreaming about a better life was sung with verve by Trensch. Asked about his show Matilda, he had nothing but good things to say. “Working with the kids is wonderful,” he said, and he had high praise for everyone involved.

Chris Miller and Nathan Tysen answer questions

Chris Miller and Nathan Tysen answer questions

Tysen joined Miller onstage to answer some questions from Twitter together, including the deep question, “How do you know if what you’ve written is any good?” Tysen, the more vocal of the songwriting team, took the question: “You just know, it’s something you can feel in your body, in your heart.” Then Tysen sang one of their brand new songs from an upcoming musical about the North Dakota oilfields. “This song is just two weeks old,” Tysen announced before launching into a soulful “Town Goes Boom” about a young family man seeking his fortune in the Badlands. If this song is any sign of what is to come, then audiences should expect an exciting new musical.

Ethan Pakchar, Mykal Kilgore and Douglas Lyons

Ethan Pakchar, Mykal Kilgore and Douglas Lyons

The evening continued with Mykal Kilgore (Book of Mormon) singing a song by Douglas Lyons and Ethan Pakchar, a brand new songwriting team formed during the national tour of Book of Mormon. Bolger’s super talented performance brought down the house, and his rendition of “Aquarius” from Hair did it again. Be on the lookout for more from these talented writers and singers in the future.

Antuan Raimone

Antuan Raimone

Before the intermission, Antuan Raimone (In the Heights) came onstage to discuss the CVTC and his own survivor story. He frankly discussed his abuse at a young age and growing up with fear and a crippling need for control. Through CVTC, he says, he came to a healthy understanding of himself and was able to begin recovery. “I hope that by sharing my story tonight someone, somewhere, can stop living theirs.” Raimone was followed by Susan Xenarios, the director of CVTC, who thanked everyone involved for supporting CVTC and making this concert a reality.

Andrew Keenan-Bolger sings "Top of the World"

Andrew Keenan-Bolger sings “Top of the World”

After 5J Barrow completed their intermission set (and Broadway Unlocked raised an additional $2,500 in a flash fundraising challenge!), it was time for Keenan-Bolger’s much anticipated performance. After answering questions about performing and his siblings (we also learned that he never has any free time) he sang “Top of the World” from Miller and Tysen’s Tuck Everlasting. Keenan-Bolger’s slight stature belies his pipes and his performance was electric. Here’s hoping that Tuck Everlasting can come to Broadway sooner rather than later.

Raena White (Dreamgirls) and surprise guest Keala Settle (Hands on a Hardbody) rounded out the evening, with a closer by 5J Barrow. As patrons applauded and left with their goodie bags, and online viewers took to social media to share their experience, people departed flush with a feel-good concert that supported a good cause. To learn more about the concert, and view photos, recaps and join in the online conversation, visit the Broadway Unlocked website.

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