Wayne Brady to perform at foundation benefit 

By Darlene Donloe

Contributing Writer

LOS ANGELES — Wayne Brady, the charismatic, multi-talented entertainer will perform Oct. 15 at the Foundation for New American Musicals’ annual fundraiser.

The event will honor three-time Tony Award-winner Jason Robert Brown (Broadway’s “Parade,” “The Bridges of Madison County,” “Mr. Saturday Night”) and ASCAP-Harold Arlen Award-winner Georgia Stitt (Arena Stage’s “Snow Child,” 11th Hour Theater’s “Big Red Sun,” TADA Youth Theater’s “Samantha Spade,” “Ace Detective”). The husband-wife duo will receive the foundation’s 2023 Inspire Award for contributing to new American musicals.

The benefit also will honor the foundation’s co-founding member Marcia Seligson (producer of Broadway’s “Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks,” and Off-Broadway’s “Not That Jewish”), who will receive the foundation’s 2023 Founders’ Award.

The benefit also will feature performances by Brown and Stitt and a special appearance by Billy Crystal (Broadway’s “Mr. Saturday Night”).

Anastasia Barzee, Therese Curatolo, Chris Mann and Cheeyang Ng are guest artists set to perform at the benefit.

“When Jason [Robert Brown] asked me to be a part of the event honoring himself and the other honorees, I said, ‘Of course,’” Brady said. “It’s a no-brainer for me. It was an immediate yes.”

Brady, who will appear in the lead role in “The Wiz,” set for a San Francisco run next January and then in Los Angeles from Feb. 13 to March 3, before opening on Broadway in the spring, called Brown a “great guy.”

“I believe that, in this business of show when you find people who move you with their words, with their art, with their music, and, on top of that is a great guy, those are the people that you say yes to,” said Brady, the current host of “Let’s Make A Deal” and a “Whose Line Is It Anyway” alum. “Those are the people that it’s a joy to be a part of something celebrating them.”

One of the entertainment industry’s versatile talents, Brady, 51, a singer, dancer, actor, improvisational comic and talk show host, who has had a successful stage and screen career, will perform one of Brown’s songs.

“I’ll be performing, ‘Wondering’ from ‘The Bridges of Madison County,’” Brady said. “What they can expect is a beautiful song by Jason. And I will do my best to live up to the beauty of his music.”

Brown is best known for being an equally skilled composer, lyricist, conductor, arranger, orchestrator, director and performer, who scored several renowned musicals, including the generation-defining “The Last Five Years,” his debut song-cycle “Songs for a New World,” and the seminal “Parade,” for which he won the 1999 Tony Award for Best Score. He spent 10 years teaching at USC and has also taught at Harvard University, Princeton University and Emerson College.

The Foundation for New American Musicals, now in its 16th year, is dedicated to educating, mentoring and showcasing emerging creators of original musicals for stage, screen and new platforms.

“The Foundation of New American Musicals is thrilled to have Jason Robert Brown and Georgia Stitt as our honorees for this year’s Inspire Award,” foundation Board President Michael Donovan said. 

The foundation “is all about nurturing, encouraging, and promoting the works of emerging composers, lyricists, and book writers, and Jason and Georgia are certainly an inspiration to all of us,” he added.

 Donovan said he and the rest of the foundation board are pleased to be presenting the 2023 FNAM Founders’ Award to fellow Board member and FNAM co-founder Marcia Seligson.

“Marcia was instrumental in the start and development of our organization, and she continues to be a champion for new and rising musical artists and creating a safe and industry-supported environment for their work,” he said.

The fundraiser will be held at 2 p.m. Oct. 15 at a private residence in the Pacific Palisades. Tickets are limited and available at www.FNAM.us.

Ticket prices are $150 for the FNAM Friend level, which includes admission for one to the benefit performance, access to the silent auction, and a light reception; and $200 for the VIP Leader level, which includes all FNAM Friend benefits, plus prime seating, and two tickets to an upcoming MUSI-CALS event.

Proceeds benefit FNAM and its programs. Tickets are available at www.FNAM.us.

The address to the benefit will be given upon purchase of benefit tickets. Capacity is limited.

Darlene Donloe is a freelance reporter for Wave Newspapers who covers South Los Angeles. She can be reached at ddonloe@gmail.com.