Only Make Believe, a non-profit organization that creates and performs interactive theatre for children in hospitals and care facilities, honored Academy Award nominee Jude Law and Gregory Lee, President & CEO of Samsung Electronics N.A. at its annual gala, "Make Believe On Broadway," November 14th at the St. James Theatre in New York.
Hosted by by Emmy winner John Oliver, the evening featured performances by stars of the stage and screen, including Josh Lucas, Julie Halston, Lesli Margherita, Adam Kantor and Montego Glover.
On the red carpet, I asked the performers what their go-to feel-good entertainment was when they would stay home from school, sick. After each revisited their own childhood, they also shared the most meaningful thing a child has said after seeing them perform.
Adam Kantor (Fiddler on the Roof, The Last Five Years)
I remember reruns of "Bewitched" and "I Dream of Genie." Nick at Night. "All That." Talk about characters that inspire hope.
Just a meaningful thank you. Or that, "You've inspired me to do something different."
"You've inspired me" means a lot to me. I was a kid who was inspired. The first thing that comes to mind is Ian McKellen and Helen Mirren in Dance of Death. I think I was about 16 or so. I said to Ian, "I'm an actor." He talked to me like a person, [asking]"What are you working on?"
David Bryan (Bon Jovi, Memphis)
When I was a kid, it was "Gilligan's Island." "The Gong Show." "Laugh In." When I was teenager, it was always comedies.
I get such great compliments back from kids. We do a lot of work with Make a Wish kids. I think it's just the greatest when you can take a kid who's sick and may not make it and give them an inch of hope and a couple of minutes not thinking about their health. It's a great organization.
Gregory Jbara ("Blue Bloods," Billy Elliot)
There wasn't TV when I was young. We would sit by the radio! In reality, we had Sunday morning cartoons. Those were big. "Gilligan's Island," original run. It was black and white.
I got to speak at my high school as a distinguished alumnus. The thrust of the speech was the most important thing you can do in life is figure out what makes you happy and pursue that. All the people who came into your life, gave birth to you, nurtured you, educated you - all they really want is for you to be happy. I got an email from a young man who wasn't even graduating that day. He was a sibling. It changed his attitude on his life... He felt, "Oh, OK. I don't have to be depressed all the time. Let me figure out what I want and pursue that." I felt very proud and grateful.
John Oliver ("The Daily Show," "Last Week Tonight")
I would watch cartoons. I really like cartoons. You won't know them. "Spot the Dog." You don't know "Spot the Dog," right? I could just make up some noises and they would sound like plausible British cartoons. You know "The Wombles"? They lived amongst rubbish, what you call garbage.
We actually had Make a Wish kids last night [at "Last Week Tonight"]. They liked the show about Edward Snowden. This kid has been in the hospital for the past eight months and he's been learning a lot about the Internet. And I talked to him for a while. He understood far more about it.
Jude Law ("The Young Pope," "Sherlock Holmes")
I used to like Buster Keaton. I used to like Harold Lloyd. I used to like Charlie Chaplin. I was a big fan of the silent movie stars.
Usually just that they enjoyed it. As an actor, you're always excited when someone sees something and they've connected with it.
Julie Halston (On the Town, You Can't Take It With You)
The movie of "Gypsy" with Rosalind Russell and Natalie Wood. And the movie "Song of Bernadette." I either wanted to be a stripper or a saint. But I became an actress which was a split the difference. Being an actress was a good in the middle. I was obsessed with all the musicals. "My Fair Lady." "Hello, Dolly." "Funny Girl." "West Side Story." We had all the albums from all of them. We were pretty obsessed. I also watched "Million Dollar Movie," which allowed me to watch the movies over and over and over again. It was like TCM exploding. Vintage binging.
"You make me laugh." That is the best ever.
Josh Lucas ("The Mysteries of Laura," "Dear Eleanor")
I grew up with out a television. We were usually allowed to watch "Star Trek." My mother would take the TV out of the garage, if I was sick - truly, like a 16-inch television out of the garage - and plug it in. The TV show that she respected was "Star Trek." That world and the brilliance of it. We had a 16mm projector. And we'd go to the library and rent Charlie Chaplin movies on film. You'd hear the click.
Without a doubt, walking out of one of the screeners of "Glory Road," a 10-year-old boy in Dallas, TX, turned to his mom and said, "Mommy, I didn't know that white people didn't like black people." She said, "What?" He said, "I had no idea. Why would white people not like black people?" He was a white kid. He said, "Black people are way cooler than white kids!"
Kelli Barrett (Wicked, Doctor Zhivago)
"Fraggle Rock." "The Elephant Show." And I watched a lot of "Dirty Dancing." That was my favorite. I played it on a loop. I had to do [a lift] in college and I finally nailed it. It was an amazing moment. Just like Baby!
"I want to do this, too." It always means a lot when it's a child's first show. I was in Wicked, and it happened a lot. Little kids just in awe of it, saying, "I want to do that, too!" and being able to tell them, "You can, and you should and I encourage that."
Lesli Margherita (Matilda the Musical, Dames at Sea)
"Sesame Street." Completely. "The Muppets." I still watch "Sesame Street" to make myself feel better. [Being on it] would be a life goal. Still to this day I watch it. Grover [is my favorite character.] "Fraggle Rock." I'm excited it's coming back.
"Honestly, I'm so happy you're not mean in real life!" All the time I come out the stage door and try to talk to them. They're so excited. For me, for the kids to look at me as a peer and grow up and get to do what you do and be like you - that's huge.
Montego Glover (Memphis, It Shoulda Been You)
"Annie" the musical. Anything "Sesame Street." Anything with music and humor. And drunk Carol Burnett. People that transported me to another place. "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers." "Meet Me in St. Louis."
"I've never seen anybody onstage that looks like me." [I said], "There are so many of us just like me."