Broadway performers gathered at Joe’s Pub on February 6 for a special evening of recognition as GMHC bestowed the Howard Ashman award to Broadway star and activist André De Shields. The evening brought out a sea of Tony and Grammy winners, along with other fabulous entertainers.
De Shields won the 2019 Tony Award for his featured role in “Hadestown.” He is also well known for playing the title role in the 1975 production of “The Wiz” and for performing in the 1988 production of “Ain’t Misbehavin'” — which featured the music of Fats Waller.
The audience was as enthralled as on Broadway. The band was led by musical director Kyle Branzel on piano with Elena Bonomo on drums and Joe Wallace on bass.
John Mallow, who is a member of GMHC’s board of directors, welcomed and thanked the crowd, while Claybourne Elder read a touching message from the late songwriter Howard Ashman’s life partner, Bill Lauch. He recounted the story of his Ashman’s personal anthem about dark days of AIDS, “Sheridan Square,” and performed it beautifully. John-Andrew Morrison performed a mashup from Aladdin and Ain’t Misbehavin’. Video messages were sent by Bette Midler and Kimberly Marable.