Darren Criss, Bellamy Young Headline 'In the Cosmos' Performance
The stars took the stage at the Ford Amphitheatre for a one-night-only benefit for underprivileged students in Los Angeles.
Due to a combination of cloud cover and Los Angeles smog, few celestial bodies were visible in the night sky during the premiere of WordTheatre’s In the Cosmos on Saturday, but there was no shortage of Hollywood stars on stage of the newly renovated Ford Amphitheatre.
The nearly two-hour performance — a (relatively) brief history of time and space — united 16 musicians and 14 actors to riff on the Big Bang and related theories, which included covers of iconic pop songs as well as original works from veteran film composers Jonathan Sacks and Starr Parodi.
“It’s a very special form of theater,” said Downton Abbey’s Lesley Nicol. “This night is a celebration of the curious people,” said Grey’s Anatomy’s Jason George, who performed a bit from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
“For me, tonight is about remembering our sense of wonder,” said Scandal’s Bellamy Young, who played the part of astronaut Sally Ride, among others. “We’ll talk about these concepts from Galileo to Neil deGrasse Tyson and [feature] music from Bach to Bowie — Darren Criss is going to crush ‘Space Oddity.’ We will remember that we’re all are on this planet hurtling through the universe, which makes the divisions of current life fall away,” added Young. “And that’s also what WordTheatre does for underprivileged high school kids.”
The one-night-only event was a benefit that not only funded transportation and admittance for 400 Title 1 students in Los Angeles, but also assisted the WordTheatre in the Schools program, which enables celebrities to bring literature to life for local teenagers.
“Actors like myself go into the schools and give a performance — recently we went to Venice High School and read very provocative, very raw pieces about the subject of domestic violence,” said Young. “Then we all had a conversation that I can remember even now, and that has really changed my life.”
Added Bruce Vilanch: “WordTheatre brings contemporary literature to a market that would have never found it otherwise — these kids are not given gift subscriptions to The New Yorker at their quinceaneras. This helps to supplement their education.”
When the performers weren’t musing on creation myths, comets and constellations, they were raving about WordTheatre’s founder, Cedering Fox, who created, produced and directed the evening of entertainment. “You know, ‘force of nature’ is overused, but when she has an idea, she won’t be stopped,” Vilanch said of Fox.
One of Fox's oldest friends, Silicon Valley star Stephen Tobolowsky, recalled when Fox first came to town with dreams of making it big in front of the camera. “Cedering came to a party at my house many years ago — all I knew was that she was the girl in the short skirt drinking margaritas,” he told The Hollywood Reporter backstage.
“Over the years, I’ve watched Cedering evolve into one of the great voice actors of our age. She was the voice of the Academy Awards — and the voice of CNN when James Earl Jones is too busy,” Tobolowsky joked.
But Glee star Darren Criss was serious when he said, “I just start following whatever she tells me to do — you don’t fuck with Cedering!”
Fox, however, proved to be anything but unapproachable at the pre-show cocktail party. “All of these actors and musicians have donated their time tonight because everybody wants the world to be a better place,” she told THR. “And if a little star power can bring people together to contemplate it? How great is that?”