Some blue-chip musical luminaries are slated to perform in a virtual benefit Thursday night for Health Care Without Walls, a nonprofit that plans to open a new clinic on West Street to provide free medical care to homeless women and children during the pandemic and beyond.
“It’s going to help us open the doors of our own space,” Dr. Roseanna Means, founder and president of Health Care Without Walls, said in a telephone interview. “This is a big step for us.”
And some pretty big names to help them take it. Hosted by singer-comedian Chris Mann and titled “Broadway Smashes COVID,” the musical benefit will feature a lineup that includes, among others, soprano Renee Fleming; Tony-winner Laura Benanti (also known for her hilarious Melania Trump impersonations on CBS’s “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert”); Heather Headley, winner of a Tony (for “Aida”) and a Grammy; Cheyenne Jackson, a Broadway performer who had a recurring role on NBC’s “30 Rock”; Adam Pascal, who played Roger in “Rent”; and John Lloyd Young, who won a Tony as Frankie Valli in “Jersey Boys.”
Even Means is a bit stunned at the roster. “I haven’t met these people,” she said with a laugh. But there are showbiz connections in the family: Her son, Willy Beaman, is a songwriter-producer who has worked with Jackson. “I said to him, ‘Willy, it would be great if we could do something spectacular, like a Broadway show,’ ” said Means.
So Beaman contacted Jackson, and host Mann reached out to the rest of the performers, and . . . voila. While the pandemic has dealt a devastating blow to live performance, it has enabled local organizations to land some boldface names, performing remotely, whom the organizations might not otherwise to be able to get.
“When I heard Renee Fleming, it’s like ‘What?’ " said Means. “She’s one of my favorite performers of all time. I have all her albums.”
An attending physician in the Division of Women’s Health at Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Means founded Health Care Without Walls two decades ago to provide services to women in homeless shelters. The organization’s new clinic will be called Health Care Without Walls — West Street. Thursday’s benefit will help fund operations at the clinic, including medical care, case management support, and added COVID-19-related expenses for protective equipment for staffers.
“Broadway Smashes COVID” will take place at 7 p.m. Thursday, though audience members are encouraged to log in around 6:45 p.m. Tickets are $50 per person, $25 for students, with registration at https://secure.givelively.org/event/health-care-without-walls-inc/broadway-smashes-covid