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Stars shine at T.N.C. Love N’ Courage benefit

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.

The Head Peddlers (Elizabeth Ruf and Karl Bateman) played during cocktails. (Photo by Jonathan Slaff)
Some members of the audience, ready for the evening of entertainment ahead. (Photo by Jonathan Slaff)
Theater supporters flocked to the Players for the annual benefit. (Photo by Jonathan Slaff)
(Photo by Jonathan Slaff)
Co-emcee Phoebe Legere also performed. (Photo by Jonathan Slaff)

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.

Playwright Lissa Moira and actor/singer Alisa Ermolaev. (Photo by Jonathan Slaff)
Crystal Field, the theater’s founder. (Photo by Jonathan Slaff)
Ashley Liang gave a graceful dance performance. (Photo by Jonathan Slaff)
David Amram encouraged audience members to stay true to their creativity and ignore the naysayers. (Photo by Jonathan Slaff)
The Yip Harburg Rainbow Foundation Troupe. (Photo by Jonathan Slaff)

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.

Performance art — literally. (Photo by Jonathan Slaff)
Cast members from “The White Blacks.” (Photo by Jonathan Slaff)
A scene from “Who Murdered Love?” (Photo by Jonathan Slaff)

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.”

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