I’m going to have the privilege of attending a very worthwhile, and fun, event on Monday, April 20, to benefit such a worthy cause. So I just must tell you about it in advance because…my Los Angeles readers can be there, as well! Two entities I really respect are coming together for this one; it’s a Gala to benefit the Golden West Chapter of the ALS Association, and will be presented at the Pasadena Playhouse, one of my favorite theatres of all time.

Proceeds from what I expect to be a fabulous, can’t-miss evening will provide funding for the ALS Association, whose mission is “critical priorities in care services, public policy, and cutting-edge global research toward treatments and cure for ALS.” That’s something I’m sure everyone supports. (If you just can’t wait to order tickets before you read the rest of this preview, here’s their site now: www.alsagoldenwest.org )

IMG_3995One Starry Night–From Broadway to Hollywood is a three-part evening, and you can choose to just the stage show itself, or one or both of the surrounding activities, as well. There’s a pre-show reception that includes a silent auction, then the show, (which I’ll elaborate on in a minute,) and the evening concludes with a dessert meet-and-greet with the illustrious cast.  Each section sounds wonderful on its own, and I’m really looking forward to the entire event, especially the reason that we’ll all be there to begin with.

Performers, honorees, and audience members will be united in our desire to conquer ALS, which many people still refer to as “Lou Gehrig’s disease.”  I’ve known of it my whole life because of being a Yankees fan; we who grew up in New York know Lou Gehrig’s famous retirement speech, where he declares that on that day, he considers himself to be “the luckiest man on earth,” almost by heart.  But I really didn’t know how insidious an affliction ALS is until the past decade or so.  When a very successful old pal of mine got diagnosed recently, it really hit home for me.  I finally realized that it could affect any of us.  And, as of now, there’s not much that can be done to combat it.  And it’s sort-of hard to even diagnose. So, relentless research is needed.

I’m sorry to say that I missed last year’s edition of One Starry Night, because I was in New York, but I heard that it was a big hit.  This variety show will have a sixteen-piece orchestra, (and who doesn’t love good live music?,) and there are many celebrities and performers scheduled to hit the stage, including Renee Zellweger, (whose longtime publicist was diagnosed with ALS last year, so this campaign is very personal for her,) adorable Jason Ritter, (whom I can’t wait to see again,) Ed Asner, and master magician Jonathan Pendragon. But I actually am looking the most forward to seeing The Flying Morgans, who are a trio of aerialists and contortionists. (In case you didn’t know, I was billed as a “World Famous Contortionist” when I was in the circus, but I was far from it. So I love seeing real ones!)

Bruce Vilanch.

Bruce Vilanch.

I’m also excited about the prospect of watching two super-talented people, whom I’ve known for many years, perform again.  Bruce Vilanch, who’s loved by absolutely everyone, makes me laugh out loud with emails of just a few words.  I love that guy!  I can’t wait to be treated to whatever cleverness he’ll be sharing with this audience.

And the prolific Academy Award-winning Disney songwriter, Richard Sherman, (who, with his late brother Robert, made us all a bit batty by penning It’s A Small World,) who’s one of the nicest men I know, will be presenting an award to the lovely Artistic Director of The Pasadena Playhouse, Sheldon Epps, “in recognition of his generosity and support of building ALS awareness over the past two years.”  Richard and I always share a chuckle or two.  Not to mention sharing a hand surgeon at Cedars-Sinai, a Medical Center that will also be a One Starry Night award recipient.

The incredible Richard Sherman.

The incredible Richard Sherman.

I’m happy to report that the very creative people who brought us two of my favorite movies of the year, The Theory of Everything and Still Alice, will also be honored. (And I’m really proud to say that I voted for the two eventual winners from those films, Eddie Redmayne and Julianne Moore, for the SAG Awards.)

When I heard the devastating news about the woman I used to know, (who I mentioned earlier recently got diagnosed,) I spent the next week doing research on ALS in general, and on the amazing Stephen Hawking in specific.  I swear, as smart as everyone thinks I am, I’m not really sure that I knew before then just what had caused his condition!  He’s lived with ALS for about fifty years now, which is mind-boggling.  I was so glad when the much-awarded The Theory of Everything came out this year, so that the public, who doesn’t research everything like obsessive I do, would get to understand ALS a bit.

And I was crushed to hear of the recent death, due to this illness, of Richard Glatzer, half of the duo who adapted and directed the brilliant Still Alice.  I met him many years ago, when he very kindly came up to me at a party to say he was a fan of my TV show.  Oh, how the tables turned when I saw the film this year, and became a major fan of his! Richard was so much more deserving of fan-ship than I! I’m so sad that he had to go through this, and I’m in absolute awe that he was able to finish adapting and directing the wonderful film, along with his husband, Wash Westmoreland, who I’m hoping will be in attendance at the Pasadena Playhouse to accept their award.

Before I get even more choked-up than I already am now, just thinking about what One Starry Night will accomplish, here’s where to find the info on how you can attend this sure-to-be-wonderful fund-raiser on Monday, April 20, or other ways in which you can help this cause: www.alsagoldenwest.org. Or call 818-865-8067.

I hope to see every caring, and/or entertainment-loving, Angeleno there!

The Pasadena Playhouse
39 S. El Molino Ave. Pasadena


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