O'Donnell to Host Rosie's Broadway Belters Benefit
"All of these guys should be household names," says O'Donnell. "They can really sing." Also scheduled to perform in the show are Broadway veterans Alix Korey (All Shook Up), Norm Lewis (Side Show), and Shayna Steele (Hairspray), as well as cabaret favorites Elaine Brier and Farah Alvin. Seth Rudetsky will serve as musical director. For her part, O'Donnell will not be singing: "I will be doing comedy," she says. "It's what I started doing and it's what I do best."
Rosie's Broadway Kids is an organization that O'Donnell founded in 2003 to provide New York City fifth-graders with in-school classes in dance, music and theater taught by industry professionals. "We're currently working with 17 schools, most of which have students below the poverty level," she notes. "My goal is to get them as interested in theater as I was at their age, because it saved my life. At the end of the 17-week program, we take them to see a Broadway show. In the first year, we took 200 kids to see Aida, and one of them asked me where he should sit once we were inside the Palace. When I responded 'How about one of the empty seats?' he said, 'You mean, where the velvet is?' Every kid should be able to sit in the velvet once in his life." The charity has also recently purchased a townhouse on West 45th Street that will serve as an academy for students with a more intensive interest in theater.