Summer Campers Devise Way To Help Orlando Nightclub Victims

The deadly nightclub shooting in Florida has inspired Broadway stars to sing in concerts, record songs and perform a few blocks from the massacre. Now there’s an online philanthropic campaign modeled on the ice bucket challenge.

Staff and campers at Stagedoor Manor, the powerhouse performing arts summer camp, have made a video of themselves singing the benefit version of “What the World Needs Now is Love “ and will donate $10 to the LGBT Center of Greater Orlando each time their original post is shared on Instagram or Twitter until they reach $5,000.

“It’s more than the money. It’s the message of fighting for tolerance and the love,” said Cindy Samuelson, who runs the Catskills Mountains camp. “Right now, with everything going on in the world, it’s needed more than ever. People need to be tolerant of each other.”

The camp’s 290 kids joined by staffers recorded the song Thursday and hope to challenge some of their famous alumni to do their own recordings. So far, they’ve tapped actor Erich Bergen of TV’s “Madam Secretary,” Beanie Feldstein of the film “Neighbors 2” and Samantha Massell from Broadway’s “Fiddler on the Roof.”

“I love that these young theater kids are learning it’s not just about ‘Put on a good show!’ but about how art can help and connect,” said Seth Rudetsky, the SiriusXM radio host whose arrangement of “What the World Needs Now is Love” was used by the campers.

The effort is part of a push by Broadway performers to reach out to victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting, including Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jennifer Lopez combining for the benefit single “Love Make the World Go Round.”

On July 24, the Broadway cast of “Fun Home” will do a concert of their musical in Orlando and, a night later, such stars as Brian Stokes Mitchell, Norbert Leo Butz, Kelli O’Hara and Chita Rivera will perform “From Broadway With Love: A Benefit Concert for Orlando.”

One of the first benefits was dreamed up by Rudetsky and his husband, producer James Wesley. They enlisted a huge group of Broadway veterans including Audra McDonald and Idina Menzel to record a new version of the iconic 1965 song “What the World Needs Now is Love,” with all proceeds going to the LGBT Center of Central Florida.

That song, with little commercial radio support, has become a hit on iTunes and inspired others to use Rudetsky’s arrangement, including a Saturday benefit at The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills, California, led by Kristen Bell and the latest effort by the Stagedoor kids.

“What’s been really touching and inspiring is how the song and its message has taken a life of its own,” said Wesley, who was on hand at the camp to watch the taping. “It’s exactly what I hoped would happen.”