A simple smile has the power to change so much, but for some children born with a cleft lip or cleft palate, smiling isn’t that simple. That’s why a variety of Broadway stars got together to host A Broadway Smile and took on the stage to perform We’ll Take Manhattan on June 10th at the New World Stages theatre, with the goal of changing the lives of those children.
We’ll take Manhattan was directed and produced by Caleb Ryan along with musical director Bryan Carter. The event included performances by Kirstie Maldonado, Jeremy Lewis, Telly Leung, Trevor McQueen and many others, benefiting the nonprofit organization, Operation Smile.
Operation Smile is a volunteer-based medical charity that provides children and young adults with free cleft surgeries. All of the money raised is donated to help children all over the world who are born with cleft lip, cleft palate and other facial deformities. Through its volunteers, Operation Smile has provided more than 3.5 million comprehensive patient evaluations and over 220,000 free surgeries to children and young adults.
The concert featured music from composers Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart. Inside their music, Ryan saw a reflection of what people suffering with cleft lips go through. “Their music is about finding a light, a hope and a future inside of a struggle,” said Ryan. “I see it reflected in the children of Operation Smile. If we can get them the surgery they need, that’s 240 dollars that will change their life and the lives of their families. And who knows? Maybe one day one of these children will go on to write music that will change other peoples lives like Rodgers and Hart did.”
The event was an opportunity for performers to come together and use their talents to benefit others. Jeremy Lewis, a cast member, believes these events should happen more often and that we all have the opportunity to get ourselves involved.“When you hear about great causes and a bunch of musicians coming together to go for a phenomenal cause like this, it’s great,” said Lewis.
Kirstie Maldonado, a member of the winning group Pentatonix from NBC’s The Sing Off, was headlining the show and performed several songs throughout the evening. Maldonado uses her position as a way to reach out and give back to others. She tries to inspire young people to believe that they are worth so much more than what they may think.
“I think this is a really great cause and people need to be more aware of it,” said Maldonado. “It amazes me how little steps go so far in a kid’s world and I think it’s amazing that there are tiny things we can do that really help and impact people.”
What also made the night memorable for Maldonado was a visit from a fan who came all the way from Vietnam. Crystal, a fan that has Osteogenesis imperfecta, a disease that causes weak bones to break easily, was visiting from Vietnam as a spokesperson for UNICEF. Through twitter, she found out about the event and was able to attend and meet Maldonado.
“Being here is a triple win because I get to meet Kirstie, it’s for a good cause and I’ve been admiring the work of the producer Caleb for a while,” said Crystal. “To see the show and the meaning behind it, bringing music to life and just making people come together through entertainment for a good cause is just amazing. I’m so honored to be here.”
They cast performed many songs and a VIP Meet and Greet was held after the concert for the guests and the talent to meet and socialize.
– Jordan Tidwell