Broadway’s youngest stars joined with the Be A Friend Project to make a difference by performing musical numbers from “IT’S EASY! The Friend Strong Musical” on May 8th at 54 Below in NYC at our BROADWAY KIDS FOR KINDNESS Benefit to end bullying!
Benefit performers, ages 10 – 16, from Broadway stages & touring include Audrey Bennett (Frozen, Sound of Music-Revival, Amelie), Austin Elle Fisher (Mrs. Doubtfire), Titus Landegger (Mrs. Doubtfire), Alayna Marissa Martus (The Lion King), Jacob Morrell (Kinky Boots, The Last Boy), Coleman Simmons (Charlie and The Chocolate Factory), Addison Takefman (Les Misérables, Mrs. Doubtfire), Jayden Theophile (TINA, Caroline or Change, The Lion King) and Samuel Li Weintraub (Miss Saigon).
The BE A FRIEND PROJECT mission to support student ‘Upstanders’ working to save the lives of their bullied peers and build kinder communities was inspired by theater kids in the Bronx in 2015 when the debut junior cast of “IT’S EASY!” asked the Playwrights, January Akselrad (Composer, Benefit Director) and Jennifer Young (BAFP Executive Director) for a way to carry the show’s “speak up, reach out and be a friend" message off-stage.
Now internationally licensed and winner of 8 Broadway World Awards, “IT’S EASY!” is more than a middle school musical; it is a middle school game-changer. "A trailblazing musical that brings to the fore a nationwide epidemic of bullying and carries an uplifting, life-changing message of the role that each person can play in its solution" reviewed The Freelance Star of Fredericksburg, Virginia.
Performer Coleman Simmons (14) expresses why volunteering his time and talent for this Benefit matters: “The reason I devote so much of my effort and time into acting is because I want to send a message of pure kindness and joy during my time in a show. Personally, entertaining and telling stories is my way of sharing that with other people. I hope people walk away from a show feeling hope and more empathy in their hearts.”
The young Broadway actors were joined on-stage by BAFP Showcase Performers & Teen Kindness Board Members, Brielle Diaz Withers (who was CO-MC with Jacob Morrell) and Mika Wurf. Brielle stepped in to co-host at the last minute for our dear Teen Kindness Board Chair, Aidan Duver, who passed away on May 24th following a 22-month battle with cancer. 💜
The evening included special appearances by Upstanders actor/singer Michael J. Coppola (15) and speaker Kimmie Edge (18). Michael was surprised from the stage with the news that he is May's Friend Mail Recipient, selected to receive Friend Mail peer support to help him stay strong after enduring years of severe bullying simply for staying true to himself as a member of the LGBTQ+ community. At curtain call, we were also joined on stage by the amazing 8-year-old CHARLOTTE from NYC who was a Friend Mail Recipient in October 2022. The 5-member Sarah Jane Cion Group accompanied the performers live, conducted by Sarah Cion.
Performer Austin Elle Fisher (10) “wants to remind you to make a drawing, write a story or talk to a friend instead of being unkind to others. Kindness is important and can change someone’s whole day!”
Thank you to the young Broadway performers and their parents, agents and managers for their passionate support of the anti-bullying mission of the BAFP!