By Kristina Hayhurst, Contributing Writer
February 15th marked the legendary concert of “Inspirational Broadway” – theater buffs from everywhere and anywhere came to see the showcase of singers from the many Broadway shows playing this spring; ranging from” Rent” and “Kinky Boots,” to “Wicked” and “Phantom of the Opera,” the line-up for the concert had everyone. This annual show was meant to showcase the highlights of Broadway, but it was clearly not just for the ‘one-timers’. A majority of the audience was composed of people who seemed to be a part of a theater community.
This amazing group is composed of “Broadway Inspirational Voices,” commonly referred to as BIV, which is a diverse choir of Broadway artists united to change lives through the power of music and service. Members of the choir and the choir itself have performed with many famous artists and on many shows including “Smash,” “America’s Got Talent,” STING, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and more. The group is lead by Michael McElroy, one of our very own professors at Tisch school of the arts, and a prominent member of the Ronald McDonald house New York. McElroy started the group in 1994 as a gospel choir, and then in 1999 created what we know today as BIV. Not only is their goal to sing Broadway songs, but their mission is “providing hope to inspire and transform youth in need through music and the arts”. Through this message, the group meets with youth throughout the city to perform music, write songs, and spread the power of music. As mentioned near the end of the show, BIV is looking to expand its outreach program to the homeless youth in the area as well.
The show itself was amazing. Starting with “Wicked”’s Lindsay Mendez, they had many special guests ranging from Marcus Paul James, who performed his original song “Paper Hearts,” to Crystal Monee Hall who earlier performed on SNL, to the “Mayor of Broadway” himself Norm Louis, and to recent Tony award winner Billy Porter for “Kinky Boots.” The show was not just a sit down dinner, though. Many of the performers moved the audience off their seat to dance, clap along, or to give a much deserved standing ovation. The show finished with the full BIV choir giving a soulful goodbye.
Located at B.B. King Blues Club and Grill, it is not the typical concert venue. The seating is first come, first serve and the entire floor is restaurant style. Instead of sitting in a folded down red chair like most Broadway shows, you are placed with other people at long tables situated all around the room. Before the concert itself, the venue was not getting great praise – many people were complaining about being placed in the back; the giant poles in the middle of the venue blocked a lot of these back spots from viewing more than half of the stage. In addition to the typical restaurant setting, it was also mandatory to order a minimum $10 worth of food “Per seat, per set”. So if it is your plan to visit the venue soon, make sure to arrive early and ready to eat.