BY THE VILLAGE SUN | The Players club on Gramercy Park South was the venue for an exhilarating night of talent on Feb. 13 at Theater for the New City’s Love N’ Courage benefit.
The evening is an annual fundraiser for the East Village theater’s emerging playwrights program, geared toward those with no prior commercial theater experience.
Performers included the multi-talented Phoebe Legere, who was also one of the night’s emcees, and the company of “The White Blacks,” a play about a 1970s New Orleans family split by attitudes over skin complexion as some members pass as white, while others embrace Black power.
The legendary David Amram, 92, was as inspirational as ever, both in his encouraging words to creatives and in his playing of the piano, as well as two penny whistles at once. The Yip Harburg Rainbow Foundation Troupe were right on.
Ronald “Smokey” Stevens gave a tour-de-force spoken-word performance about sobriety.
“America is being possessed by fentanyl,” he warned.
There were also excerpts of “Hamlet in Harlem” and “Who Murdered Love?” Music by The Head Peddlers enlivened the cocktail hour at the evening’s outset.
Yet another talent who got his start at T.N.C., playwright Matt Morillo was co-emcee.
Councilmember Carlina Rivera was due to be honored — however, as it turned out, she really was due. It was announced from the stage that she had given birth earlier in the day and, so, obviously could not make it. She had a boy.
Playwright Eduardo Machado, the night’s other honoree, thanked Theater for the New City’s director, Crystal Field, for making it a place where he could explore the full range of his creative abilities — as a playwright, actor, director and teacher.
“At Theater for the New City, I got to express all my talents,” he said, “and for that, I will be eternally grateful, Crystal.”