Montana’s first black mayor, Wilmot Collins, made a surprise stop at WMPAC to chat with organizers Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley about his struggle to emigrate from war-torn Liberia to Montana. Collins was sworn in as the mayor of Helena on Jan. 2, 2018.

Broadway does Big Sky 

Concerts for America raises over $55,000 for charity
“It was the most meaningful performance to date.” — WMPAC Director John Zirkle

Not even a winter storm warning, slow Wi-Fi, lost luggage or the effects of altitude could slow down the stars of last week’s Concert For America benefit at the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center (WMPAC). And if the amount of money raised was a sign of the show’s success, then successful it was indeed.

In between uplifting performances like Vanessa Williams’ “Colors of the Wind” to “original Broadway Annie” Andrea McArdle’s “Tomorrow,” husbands and founders of the show Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley elaborated upon the five national charities that would benefit.

WMPAC Director John Zirkle said over $55,000 was raised for the charities during the two-night benefit, surpassing the program’s goal of $50,000. 

While most of the money raised by Concert For America goes to national charities, some of it stayed closer to home. A donation of $5,000 was given to Bozeman-based HAVEN, which will use the funds to help purchase hotel rooms for victims of domestic violence in the Southwest Montana region.

The rest of the funds will be divvied up equally between the NAACP, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Sierra Club, Southern Poverty Law Center and the National Immigration Law Center.

Zirkle said the day after the second show his phone was blowing up with texts and emails from all sorts of patrons. “I would say enough people said it was the greatest thing they’ve ever seen at WMPAC, that I feel confident in saying it was the most meaningful performance to date,” he said when asked how attendees received the show. “The combination of incredible voices, true star power, unbelievable generosity and education about the organizations that were benefitted from the evening made for an impactful experience that surely surprised almost everybody in the theater.”

As for the performers, they quickly warmed up to Big Sky’s chilly temps and welcoming community. Zirkle said everyone is looking to come back. “All of us are trying to dream up ways to get the stars back to work with the community in new ways,”
he said.

Both Big Sky shows were live-streamed, and can still be viewed at The Dec. 28 performance has been viewed nearly 30,000 times. 

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