A host of Broadway favorites are set to star in a one-night-only benefit concert of Jason Robert Brown's 13: The Musical. The concert will be held March 3 at 7:00 PM at Lawrence Woodmere Academy in Woodmere, New York. The event is in honor of Dear Evan Hansen star Andrew Barth Feldman's late mother, Barbra Barth Feldman. Barbra passed away from cancer during summer 2019.
The cast will feature Feldman as Evan, Kuhoo Verma as Patrice, Ryan J. Haddad as Archie, Antonio Cipriano as Brett, Krysta Rodriguez as Lucy, Gracie Lawrence as Charlotte, Alyssa Wray as Cassie, Sophia James as Molly, Gian Perez as Eddie, Sam Primack as Malcolm, Joe Serafini as Simon, and Frankie Rodriguez as Richie. Casting for the roles of Kendra and the Rabbi are to be announced.
Both Barbra and Andrew graduated from Lawrence Woodmere Academy (previously the Woodmere Academy and Lawrence Country Day School), where Barbra served as summer camp director and, later, as head of the school. Proceeds from the concert will benefit the LWA performing arts program, as well as the continued development of the school's theatre, which has been renovated and renamed the Barbra Barth Feldman Performing Arts Center.
"The reason why they named the theatre after [my mom] is because she became a massive advocate for the arts at my school and in my community," Feldman tells Playbill. "She created an arts program from the ground up."
While his mother was running the school's summer camp, Feldman says he longed to go to a specialized performing arts camp—"so that I could do shows and not have to play soccer," he jokes. Barbra began bringing local community theatre directors to the camp to produce two shows per summer, which benefited Andrew and his classmates while also creating jobs for several artists. When she later became head of school, Andrew says Barbra brought her support of the arts to LWA's academic year.
"She was very active in the productions, in collecting props, and physically being backstage sometimes, just because nobody else was there to do it," he says. "She became the center of the arts at [LWA], even though she never did theatre...but I loved it so much that she turned it into an arts school for me."
In addition to honoring his mom, Feldman also says benefiting his high school is a way to reinvest in the artistic community that supported him. Feldman, who got his start when he won the Best Actor title at the 2018 Jimmy Awards, is a staunch advocate for the importance of youth theatre.
"I really do believe that youth theatre is the most important theatre that exists, and the most real theatre that exists," he emphasizes. "The fact that I have an outlet in my own alma mater, to support kids exactly like me, some of whom may need it even more than I did—just a place that might be healthier than home, or a place that can teach them a little bit more about the world when you don't quite have the words yet, but you know you need to express something. That's what I want to be a part of fostering. So this is the best way I know how to do that."
Proceeds from the event will support developments at LWA, including scholarships, renovations to sound and lighting systems, budgets for future productions, master classes, and more.
"We're turning it into a destination for theatre kids, and theatre for social change," Feldman says. "The fact that I get to be part of that, and give so much of what I wish I had growing up is just so healing and so wonderful...and getting to honor my mom [in] the theatre named after her. She saw me in this show a bunch of times, we're really going to be performing it for her. It's going to be very emotional, and it's going to be really, really fun."
As for the musical itself, Feldman says this production of 13 is not one to miss. "It's going to be an absolute blast," he says. "These professional people [will be] flying by the seat of their pants, playing 12 year olds—I want to be in the audience. I'm kind of pissed that I have to be up there! But it is my favorite role to
play, so I can't wait."
Click here to purchase tickets.