Big Broadway names — and a lot of Hollywood A-listers, too — hit the boards Monday night for “Stronger Together,” a one-night-only fundraiser performance for the Hillary Clinton campaign at Broadway’s St. James Theatre. Here are seven of the night’s biggest highlights.
1. Neil Patrick Harris’ reprise of “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”
Harris returned to his Tony-winning role in “Hedwig” by singing “The Origin of Love,” backed by Rebecca Naomi Jones, composer Stephen Trask, and a quartet of ballet dancers that included Leanne Cope from “An American in Paris.” It was good enough to make you wish for “Hedwig: The Ballet.”
2. An aww-inducing “Tomorrow”
The sentimental favorite of the night was clearly “Tomorrow,” the song from “Annie” sung as a duet by original Annie, Andrea McArdle, and the musical’s most famous alumna, Sarah Jessica Parker. You could feel the whole room melt.
3. Hillary’s screen address
Clinton herself couldn’t make it to the show, but she put in a video appearance — and cracked a decent joke while she was at it. “I auditioned for tonight’s show, but Harvey and Jordan said I didn’t make the cut,” she said, referring to two of the evening’s producers, Harvey Weinstein and Jujamcyn Theaters president Jordan Roth.
4. Angela Bassett’s recitation of Sojourner Truth
The evening featured a string of strong performances, from Helen Mirren doing a speech by Eleanor Roosevelt to Julia Roberts reading the work of journalist Molly Ivins to Jake Gyllenhaal and Jon Hamm performing bits of the play “It Can’t Happen Here.” But probably the most rousing of these segments came from Bassett, giving a powerhouse rendition of Truth’s famous speech “Ain’t I a Woman?”
5. Bill Clinton’s surprise appearance
Hillary’s husband was the unexpected guest of the evening, tucked in before the end of the first act. He praised his wife for offering “answers in the face of anger” and “a future with bridges, not walls.” “She is the single best changemaker that I have ever known,” he said at the event, which was live-streamed for supporters who couldn’t be in the theater. “She will make you proud.” His entrance alone brought the crowd to its feet.
6. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s rewritten “Ten Duel Commandments”
The evening’s headline sequence was a song from “Hamilton,” rewritten by Miranda and performed onstage by him and his Tony-winning “Hamilton” costar Renee Elise Goldsberry. The duo gave the crowd a retooled “Ten Duel Commandments,” beginning with “Number one: Register to vote,” and managing to incorporate the lyric, “Tim Kaine in the membrane!”
7. Ayodele Casel’s showstopper
One of the night’s biggest and most unexpected showstoppers came from one of the lesser known talents on the St. James stage that night. Casel, the rising Nuyorican tap dancer, grabbed the crowd with a display of virtuosic tapping, performed to a deeply personal spoken-word track she’d recorded. By the time she had finished, half the house was on its feet.