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Broadway Supports Covenant House Programs

April 1, 2007

BroadwayWorld.com

Sunday, April 1, 2007; Posted: 11:56 AM
by Pati Buehler

Neil Berg, Danielle Stephens (youth performer from Covenant House), Marty and Kevin Gorman, Sheila and John Wagner, Darnelll (former Covenant House resident)
Neil Berg, Danielle Stephens (youth performer from Covenant House), Marty and Kevin Gorman, Sheila and John Wagner, Darnelll (former Covenant House resident)

Since 1999, the Mission of Covenant House is to service homeless, runaway and "at risk" youth. "We do this through a continuous service that includes street outreach as Covenant House staff go out on the street with the goal of contacting homeless youth and offering a way off the street, "according to Executive Director Jerome Kilbane.

On Thursday, March 29th the Perelman Theater at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts became a house filled with generous supporters from the staff and board members of this amazing organization to the wonderful entertainers and theater patrons who came out to show their love for this worthy cause. "This is the fifth year Neil Berg has brought his talented troupe to not only perform for our kids, but with our kids", says Kilbane.

The cast included Rita Harvey (Phantom of the Opera, Fiddler on the Roof), Danny Zolli (Jesus Christ Superstar), husband and wife actors, director and dancers Kirby and Beverly Ward, Craig Schulman (Les Miserables, Jekyll & Hyde, Phantom of the Opera), Capathia Jenkins (Martin Short's Fame Becomes Me, Caroline or Change), comedy actor, singer Jeff Gardner (Scarlet Pimpernel, Wild Party, Carter Calvert (It Ain't Nothing But The Blues) and Lawrence Clayton (Bells Are Ringing, Dreamgirls).

Rita Harvey and Tiffany White (youth performer Covenant House)
Rita Harvey and Tiffany White
(youth performer Covenant House)

Musical Highlights included a tribute to Judy Garland performed by Rita Harvey and Carter Calvert, selections from Andrew Lloyd Webber's Evita, sung by Danny Zolli, "Phantom of the Opera," sung by Craig Schulman and Rita Harvey and "Jesus Christ Superstar," sung by Lawrence Clayton.

Solo highlights included Billy Joel's "Songs From An Italian Restaurant" performed by the always popular Danny Zolli, accompanied by Neil and his extraordinary band, as well as Les Miserables star Craig Schulman's soaring one of a kind rendition of "Bring Him Home." Capathia Jenkins clearly brought down the house with her performance of "And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going" from Dreamgirls. These last two songs took on a new meaning in light of the purpose of this event, and the audience response to both was sheer appreciation.

Joseph C. Swift, Chairman of the Board of Covenant House Pennsylvania was present and simply overjoyed by the entire evening. The Covenant House concept differs from other youth programs in that they employ a Rights of Passage: a transitional living program that provides long term housing and teaches youth independent living skills.

Capathia Jenkins and Lawrence Clayton
Capathia Jenkins and Lawrence Clayton

"Our goal is to treat our kids with "unconditional love and absolute respect". We allow youth as many chances as is needed to reach their goals, even if that means coming in and out of the program many times. Second, we are the only program that has a policy of "open intake". This means we often have youth that have been in many other programs, we turn no youth away", as Kilbane explains. "We welcome any group that wants to be involved within our Mission. We have great relationships with a number of volunteer groups, schools and businesses.

"Our short term goals are to increase the amount of funding that Covenant House raises to allow us to increase the quality and quantity of support services we can offer (hence the reason for our "Night of Broadway Stars" event). Our long term goal is to renovate 20,000 sg ft in Kensington to expand our current ROP program from 8 beds to 18 apartments that will provide transitional housing and services to 20 individuals and 8 mothers with children".

Clearly the most heart-warming, as well as heart-tugging, highlight of the evening was a chance to hear the personal stories of two former Covenant House members who rendered the crowd speechless and tearful with their bittersweet stories of neglect, abuse, rescue and redemption back into the world and a life that so many of us take for granted.

Tiffany White (youth performer Covenant House), Leo Carlin (Covenant House) and Carter Calvert
Tiffany White (youth performer Covenant House),
Leo Carlin (Covenant House) and Carter Calvert

Prior to the evening's event, Neil Berg and company spent some time with the residents of Covenant house encouraging them and offering a handful of young people a unique opportunity - to rehearse and perform a song on stage. The finished product - six beautifully dressed young men and ladies that brought the audience to their feet with their newfound confidence and talent. They were then joined by the Broadway cast for a final song from Dreamgirls, "Family", which finished the evening with an overwhelming ovation and a feeling of compassion and appreciation for all involved in this amazing life-saving work that takes place 24 hours a day every day at the Covenant House.

The dedicated fine people of these programs welcome and encourage everyone to reach out and support a Covenant House near you. Visit their website at www.covenanthousepa.org.

The Covenant House presents "A Night of Broadway Stars" was held at the Kimmel Center's Perelman Theater, Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA on March 29, 2007.

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