Lovers of musical theater now have a great way to support the Mazzoni Center, which has been providing health and wellness services for LGBTQ+ people since the late 1970s. The very first Mazzoni Center Honors concert will celebrate the music of composer Stephen Schwartz, famous for writing the music for Broadway hits such as “Wicked,” “Pippin” and “Godspell.” Produced by Richard Barone and musically directed by Nick Wilders, the Nov. 13 concert will be hosted by award-winning broadcast journalist and producer Soledad O’Brien at Verizon Hall.
“I am thrilled to be leading the Mazzoni Center Honors All-Star Benefit Concert at the Kimmel Center honoring Stephen Schwartz,” said David Weisberg, executive development and communications officer at Mazzoni Center. “It’s an extraordinary opportunity to pay tribute to a legendary Broadway composer whose music has meant so much to so many in our community and beyond, and the lineup of talent we’ve been able to assemble to perform Stephen’s songs is as amazing as you could find on any stage at any time, anywhere in the country.”
The concert will feature an all-star slate of Broadway and pop musicians, some of whom are from the Philadelphia area and others who are part of the LGBTQ+ community. In 2023, actor, singer and dancer J Harrison Ghee and actor and singer Alex Newell were the first nonbinary actors to be nominated for and win a Tony Award. Ghee won for their performance in the musical “Some Like It Hot,” and Newell won for their role in the musical “Shucked.”
They will be joined by Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Paula Cole; actress, singer and Broadway star Lorna Courtney; Tony-nominated actress, dancer and Broadway star Charlotte d’Amboise; folk and Americana singer- songwriter Vance Gilbert; Philly-based singer Lauren Hart, known for singing the U.S. and Canadian national anthems at Flyers games; Broadway and TV actor, director, singer and songwriter Telly Leung; singer and Broadway, film and TV actor Terrence Mann; internationally-known pop singer-songwriter and Narberth native Lizzy McAlpine; R&B singer and Philadelphia Music Walk of Fame honoree Dee Dee Sharp; and the Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus.
“Saying I am ‘honored’ to be on stage with so many accomplished and powerful artists doesn’t even begin to describe how thrilled I am to be part of this show,” Hart said in an email. “Some of the artists performing I saw on Broadway as a kid. These artists inspired me to become a singer in the first place and some are now my recording peers. For me, there is going to be a lifetime of music and inspiration on that stage and I can’t wait!”
Hart added that singing Schwartz’s song “When You Believe,” written for the movie “The Prince of Egypt,” “could not be more timely. We all need hope and the belief that life can be better for everyone and that we have the strength to get there.”
“There are certain people in this world that just have light behind their eyes,” Lorna Courtney said in a press release. “Stephen Schwartz is one of those people. It’s an honor to be able to celebrate him and his legacy in conjunction with all the wonderful and important work that the Mazzoni Center offers!”
Mazzoni Center offers HIV and STI testing, primary care, gender-affirming surgery assessments, navigation services that include sexual health information, linkage to PrEP and referrals, support services including behavioral health therapy and many other health care services.
“Even more importantly, Mazzoni Center Honors is an opportunity for the community, while enjoying an incredible show, to support the vital services that Mazzoni Center provides for our Greater Philadelphia LGBTQ community, including our commitment to never turn anyone away from care because they lack the financial resources to pay,” Weisberg said.
Prior to the main event at 7:30 p.m., attendees can enjoy a drag show in the Kimmel Center lobby featuring Schwartz’s repertoire, with performances by local drag queens Brittany Lynn, Phoebe Manntrappe and Nurse Morgan.
Mazzoni Center Honors will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 13 at Verizon Hall, 300 S Broad St. For tickets and more information, visit mazzonicenter.org/gala.