By Elizabeth Foster
“My Moment” is 106 stories collected by Kirsten Chenoweth, Kathy Najimy, Linda Perry, Chely Wright, and Lauren Blitzer. A multimedia event showcasing the stories of several women was held at Symphony Space. As Lauren Blitzer said, “we had to get scrappy; that’s what girls do.” The project started with the onset of COVID, and everyone involved had to think out of the box to pull it all together. A picture shoot originally planned on each coast was improvised. A camera was sent to participants, and they were asked to take their pictures for the book. Each picture has a story, making My Moments even more memorable. One of the most stunning pictures of attorney, advocate, and author Rabia Chaudry was taken by her daughter Haneefah Aziz.
Renée Fleming, Carol Burnett, Kelli O’Hara, Marlo Thomas, Beanie Feldstein, and Debra Messing are among the book’s contributors that have graced the stages of Broadway. The lesser-known, everyday unsung heroes that appeared on stage mesmerized the audience. Stephanie Hopson, a music producer, was a showstopper, opening up with, “I found out what a 5’9 265-pound body could do – It’s perfect for cold water swimming.” That is exactly what she did. On August 9, 2016, she swam the English Channel for the next 24 hours and 31 minutes.
Hopson introduced one of her clients Allison Russell, who sang and played instruments to songs she wrote. One was a prayer for her mother. Her performance was haunting, and the audience was witness to her testimony.
Chaudry had gifts for everyone – handmade tea she created in her kitchen. This was part of a promotion of her upcoming book. Everyone was encouraged to self-promote their work and Chaudry made the most of it.
Gloria Steinem held court, telling the audience, “If I remember something these days, it’s as good as having an orgasm.” A male who wishes to remain anonymous quipped it must have been a bunch of women complaining how hard life is and all of their “perceived” injustices. There was more laughter in the theater than most comedies could ever elicit. The evening was spirited, entertaining, and worthwhile. If there is a sequel – the next 106 women – get your ticket early. Brooke Baldwin, “BB” journalist, author, and former host of CNN’s newsroom, recently published a book titled Huddle. The theme is women talking in small groups. She attempted to conduct a “huddle” on stage with Dr. Anna Gifty Opoku-Agyeman, Shakina Nayfack, Rabia Chaudry, and Jennifer Esposito. BB first asked each to introduce themselves, then returned and asked what their moment was. It was awkward, stilted, and a time-consuming format. It got interesting when the guests interviewed were finally allowed to speak their truth. The huddle did not knock it out of the park or create a touchdown strategy.
Kirsten Chenoweth, a headliner, could not make the event. This is the second event we have covered in the past several months that the star has not been able to attend; the other was Theatre Forward’s 2022 Gala Red Carpet. Things happen, but a video or a message read at the event from her would have gone a long way with her devout fans.
My Moment; 106 Women on Fighting For Themselves. Symphony Space Peter Jay Sharp Theatre 2537 Broadway at 95th Street 212-864-5400. $40, including a copy of My Moment.