Billy Crystal didn’t hold back when hosting Stronger Together, a star-studded Broadway fundraiser for presidential candidate Hillary Clinton that featured “the greatest collection of entertainers and stars since Harvey Weinstein’s daughter’s bat mitzvah,” he joked.
Throughout the Monday night event, the comic actor’s punchlines repeatedly skewered Donald Trump. “Our goal tonight is simple: We need to raise more money than Donald Trump lost in 1995,” he told the St. James Theatre audience. “He’s the human form of the hurricane season: Starts out with a lot of hot air, gets you spinning out of control and hits America and causes a lot of damage and panic. But it’s completely over by November.”
“He’s like a 7/11 — he’s open 24 hours and he’s trying to sell us crap that we don’t want,” Crystal continued. “Last week in the debate, he was stalking Hillary like he’s Jason in Friday the 13th. … [On CNN] Trump was the boy who cried Wolf Blitzer.” He justified his jokes by referencing the infamous Billy Bush tapes: “I can say whatever I want, because I’m a star.”
Crystal also sang an original opening number that stressed Clinton’s inclusive positions and made fun of Trump’s debate sniffing and wavering supporters. “No racist baiting, no Muslim hating, pantsuits for everyone, it’s Hillary tonight,” he sang. “No border walls, no Russian pacts, everyone here has paid federal tax.”
He also commented on the setlist with Trump jabs: Joel Grey and Sienna Miller performed songs from Cabaret, which “is set in Germany in the late ‘30s — or as Trump and [Mike] Pence call it, ‘the good ol’ days.’” And Sarah Jessica Parker, Matthew Broderick and Victoria Clark sang from How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying — or, as Crystal called it, “How to Succeed in Business Without Paying Your Taxes and Filing for Backruptcy.”
The evening — produced by Stephen Schwartz, Weinstein, Jordan Roth, Richie Jackson and Anna Wintour, and somewhat co-hosted via prerecorded introductions by Barbra Streisand — included speeches by Chelsea Clinton (who thanked Actors’ Equity for its first-ever presidential candidate endorsement), Helen Mirren, Alan Cumming and Lena Dunham, plus a surprise appearance by Bill Clinton. Julia Roberts, Angela Bassett and Sarah Jones performed stage pieces, and Sarah Paulson, Ansel Elgort and Uzo Aduba recited notable quotes by historical figures.
But the show-stopping performances were Lin-Manuel Miranda and Renee Elise Goldsberry’s newly rewritten Hamilton tune, Parker’s “Tomorrow” duet with fellow Annie star Andrea McArdle, Ayodele Casel’s narrated tap dance, Neil Patrick Harris’ moving rendition of Hedwig and the Angry Inch’s “The Origin of Love” alongside ballet dancers and Anne Hathaway and Kelli O’Hara’s rendition of the Streisand-Judy Garland “Happy Days” duet, which they noted they’d sing after Election Day.
Emily Blunt and Bernadette Peters also sang from Into the Woods, and Jon Hamm and Jake Gyllenhaal teamed for a scene from the political play It Can’t Happen Here. Each performer, including Josh Groban, Sara Bareilles and Hugh Jackman, wore a Hillary Clinton graphic tee — a directive Cynthia Erivo took further when she paired it with a sparkling, patriotic pantsuit for the show’s closing number.
The only one who wasn’t onstage was Clinton herself, who explained in a video greeting, “I auditioned for tonight’s show and I wanted to sing with you, but Harvey and Jordan said I didn’t make the cut.”
Proceed benefited the Hillary Victory Fund. See the setlist below.
“Hillary Tonight” – Billy Crystal & Adult Chorus
“Oh What a Beautiful Morning” – Hugh Jackman
“Wilkommen/Cabaret” – Joel Grey & Sienna Miller
“Been a Long Day” – Matthew Broderick, Sarah Jessica Parker & Victoria Clark
“While I Have the Floor” – Ayodele Casel (tap dance)
“Brave” – Sara Bareilles
“Origin of Love” – Neil Patrick Harris, Rebecca Naomi Jones & Stephen Trask (ballet dancers: Stella Abrera, Leanne Cope, Marcelo Gomes, Clifford Williams)
“No One Is Alone” Reprise – Emily Blunt
“Children Will Listen” – Bernadette Peters & Children’s Chorus
“Climb Every Mountain” – Barbra Streisand & Jamie Foxx (video)
“Get Happy / Happy Days Are Here Again” – Anne Hathaway & Kelli O’Hara
“For Good” – Stephen Schwartz & Kelli O’Hara
“It Can’t Happen Here” – Jon Hamm & Jake Gyllenhaal
“Tomorrow” – Sarah Jessica Parker & Andrea McArdle
“Over the Rainbow” – Josh Groban
“The World Was Wide Enough” (rewrite from Hamilton) – Lin-Manuel Miranda & Renée Elise Goldsberry
“Battle Hymn of the Republic” – Cynthia Erivo, Adult and Kids’ Chorus, full company