Lesli Margherita, Harriet Harris, Jason Butler Harner, Nick Blaemire, and Cindy Cheung join participants Duncan Sheik, Molly Hager & Van Hughes, Grace McLean, Ethan Lipton, Jo Lampert, Eddie Cooper, Rebecca Naomi Jones, Mary Testa, Jill Sobule, and Kyle Jarrow

Online Auction Features Kathleen Chalfant, Nina Hellman, Jeremy Shamos, Sam Pinkleton, Anne Washburn, James Yaegashi, and More

On May 11, the celebrated Off-Broadway theater company The Civilians will host A Shining Light, a live streamed benefit concert supporting the company and its artist community. In order to make A Shining Light as accessible as possible, there is no minimum ticket price. Donations of any amount will give viewers access to the event and can be made at A free version will also stream live on The Civilians’ Facebook page. The Civilians most recent production, Whisper House, was forced by the pandemic to shut down on the day of its first preview.


The live streamed event, hosted by Jo Lampert, features the following artists, all broadcasting from their homes: Nick Blaemire, Cindy Cheung, Eddie Cooper, Molly Hager, Harriet Harris, Jason Butler Harner, Van Hughes, Rebecca Naomi Jones, Lesli Margherita, Grace McLean, Duncan Sheik, Jill Sobule, and Mary Testa. Songs include selections from Duncan Sheik and Kyle Jarrow’s Whisper House; works by Michael Friedman and Ethan Lipton; and an original piece created for the event by Kyle Jarrow in honor of Event Chair and Associate Artist Alexander Dodge. The music director is Wiley DeWeese and Blaemire has written the event’s theme song.


In addition, The Civilians, in collaboration with many of the artists the company has worked with, will offer a special Online Benefit Auction comprised of compelling, one-of-a-kind experiences audiences can enjoy or give as a gift. Those experiences include a private reading by Tony Award-nominated and four-time Obie-winning actress Kathleen Chalfant, custom-made event dance by Tony-Nominated choreographer Sam Pinkleton, private performance by married actors Nina Hellman and Jeremy Shamos, private Zoom Concert by Jill Sobule, creative writing experience from playwright Anne Washburn, and a coaching session or private performance by veteran actor James Yaegashi, among many others. Donors can also directly support artist fees associated with the company’s productions and programs during the event.


“We are eager (but patient) for the time when we can gather together again to experience live theater and join artists in their creative interrogations of human experience,” said The Civilians’ Founding Artistic Director Steve Cosson. “As was the case with many theaters, we were deeply saddened when our cornerstone production of Duncan Sheik & Kyle Jarrow’s Whisper Houseneeded to shut down on the day of its first preview. We’re hopeful that we’ll be able to bring this brilliant musical to our audiences in the future. And we’re presently adapting our programs to continue to employ artists, and to serve audiences and students as much as possible.”


A Shining Light will take place on Monday, May 11 with a virtual VIP cocktail hour at 7:30pm followed by the 8pm performance. Viewers can join the Livestream for a contribution in any amount. Donations can be made online at, by calling 929-428-5024 or by emailing

About The Civilians

The Civilians began in 2001 with a company of artists, led by Founding Artistic Director Steve Cosson, who were interested in making new work at the intersection of the theatrical and the real. We took our name from old vaudeville slang—a “civilian” being anyone outside of show business—and we coined the term “investigative theater” to describe our combination of a creative process with field research and in-depth residencies. This approach would yield numerous revelatory, exuberant and critically-acclaimed new plays and musicals, many in collaboration with founding member Michael Friedman. After Michael’s passing in 2017, the company launched The Michael Friedman Recording Project with Ghostlight Records, creating cast albums of his unrecorded shows. Select Civilians shows include Gone Missing, with several US and UK tours culminating in a one-year Off-Broadway commercial run; This Beautiful City, about the politicized Evangelical movement; The Great Immensity, the first major American play about climate change; José Rivera’s Another Word for Beauty, created from a residency inside Bogotá’s national women’s prison during their annual beauty pageant; and Michael Friedman and Bess Wohl’s Pretty Filthy created from immersion in L.A.’s adult film industry. The Civilians created several original works while serving as the first theater company to be artist-in-residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The company also has a rich history of nurturing new work by some of America’s leading playwrights and composers, such as Anne Washburn’s Mr Burns, a post-electric play, which has gone on to hundreds of subsequent productions around the world and was recently named the fourth best play of the past twenty five years by The New York Times. The company sustains a number of artistic programs including new work development, a cabaret series for new musicals, the R&D Group new work lab, the online journal Extended Play, and more.


The company’s recent productions were Whisper House by Duncan Sheik and Kyle Jarrow, and our On The Move collaboration with New York City Center by Modesto Flako Jimenez and multiple composers, directed by Brisa Muñoz. Both projects were postponed due to COVID-19.


Event Details

What: A Shining Light: Spring 2020 Benefit

Tickets: Join the Live Stream for a contribution of any amount here. For info on the free streaming version join our email list here.


When: Monday, May 11, 2019. 7:30pm Virtual VIP Cocktail Hour and 8pm Performance.

Purchase:, 929-428-5024,


Media Contact: John Wyszniewski at Everyman Agency,, 347-416-3881.