Gretna Theatre is presenting critically acclaimed singer and actress Vanessa Williams in a special livestreamed virtual concert Saturday, Dec. 5.
It’s one of only two nonprofit arts organizations in Pennsylvania and about 20 nationwide carrying the performance.
Virtual passes to the concert, “Vanessa Williams: Live from the West Side,” which will start at 8 p.m. and last about 90 minutes, can be purchased for $30 at gretnatheatre.org. They will also include access to 72 hours of on-demand viewing of a video recording of the livestream after the broadcast ends.
Proceeds “will support sustaining the community that produces and presents live professional theatre that engages, transforms, entertains and educates,” a press release said.
“In an ode to one of … Williams’ most famous song lyrics, we are excited to ‘save the best for last’ in 2020 by bringing a Grammy-, Tony- and Emmy-nominated superstar to your home,” Gretna Theatre’s Executive Producer Brian Kurtas said in the release.
“You’re not going to find this on Netflix or Hulu. Gretna Theatre as a Pennsylvania arts hub is proudly still here, and has been bringing programs in new ways to continue serving the community and ensuring that live theater still has a place in our lives – even if it’s temporarily behind a screen.”
Transmitted live in high definition with professional sound mixing, Williams will perform at The Shubert Virtual Studios on Manhattan’s West Side. Her song list will feature a mix of Broadway showtunes and pop numbers, and she’ll add personal stories.
Plus, audience members watching remotely will be invited to email questions that she will answer.
Williams has sold millions of records worldwide, achieving numerous No. 1 and Top 10 hits on various Billboard Album and Singles charts: Pop, Dance, R&B, Adult Contemporary, Holiday, Latin, Gospel and Jazz.
Her work in film, television, recording and Broadway has been recognized by every major industry award affiliate. Williams has earned four Emmy nominations, 11 Grammy nominations, a Tony nomination, three Screen Actors Guild Award nominations, seven NAACP Image Awards and three Satellite Awards.
Her platinum single “Colors of the Wind,” from the Disney movie “Pocahontas,” won the Oscar, Grammy and Golden Globe for Best Original Song.
Williams also was honored with the Human Rights Campaign “Ally for Equality” Award for her humanitarian contributions. And in 2007, she achieved a career pinnacle with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Dallas Summer Musicals and Entertainment Benefits Group is the lead producer of the Dec. 5 concert; the other nonprofit carrying it in the state is The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, Kurtas told LebTown.
Williams is a “huge supporter of nonprofits, and she wanted to help regional theaters,” he said. “We’re extremely lucky” to be the presenter for eastern and central Pennsylvania.
Kurtas said a large consortium of theaters came together and pooled resources in a time of COVID-19 to bring this kind of program to the community.
Something similar was put on in August with Chris Jackson, of “Hamilton” fame, and that worked out well, Kurtas said.
Considered America’s oldest summer theater, Gretna postponed its summer season because of the pandemic, he said, but has been adapting.
Normally, tens of thousands migrate to the theater annually. “Our goal is to bring the theater to them,” Kurtas said. “Our audiences are so starved for engagement.”
Recently, in plenty of time for Halloween, the theater created a murder mystery box set that quickly sold out, he said.
“Anything we can do to put a smile on people’s faces,” Kurtas said, “we’re doing it.”
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