John Oliver Says It’s Funny ‘Watching Elon Musk Destroy Twitter’: ‘$44 Billion Being Set on Fire’

Childlike wonder and imagination took the stage on Monday night during the annual Only Make Believe gala at the St. James Theatre.

Only Make Believe has brought interactive theater to over 60 children’s hospitals and special education facilities across the East Coast. Hosted by John Oliver, the 80-minute charity event featured colorful performances from some of Broadway’s biggest stars.

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During his opening monologue, Oliver quipped about participating in Zoom benefits during the pandemic and how the Broadway ones “were sometimes some of the worst.” He also highlighted some “astonishing” examples of people using their Twitter Blue verification check marks to troll companies.

“Let me tell you how much fun tonight is going to be: it is going to be almost as much fun as it’s been over the last 10 days watching Elon Musk destroy Twitter,” Oliver said. “It’s okay to enjoy things when they’re very, very funny; $44 billion being set on fire in front of everyone’s faces is something you have to get a laugh at.”

Tony Award nominee Montego Glover opened with a musical number from “Into The Woods” that she sang in character as the Witch next door. To close out the night, Broadway power couple Orfeh and Andy Karl belted out a dynamic rendition of Prince’s “Kiss.”

Audience members also got to see “Little Shop of Horrors” stars Rob McClure and Brad Oscar perform on stage together for the final time. McClure, who played the lead role of Seymour Krelborn, just finished his run on the off-Broadway production this past weekend. On the red carpet, McClure highlighted the transcendent healing qualities that the power of play can have on children.

“It really is about fully embracing the pretend,” McClure told Variety. “Most of us got into [theater] because we felt madly in love with playing make-believe. We just happened to practice it so well and do it for so long. So being able to fully give ourselves to these kids, just as fully as we did when we were 5 with no filter in our brain playing Ninja Turtles on our lawn, is truly something that I think is singularly extraordinary.”

Patrons were encouraged to donate money in order to support Only Make Believe’s acting company, which has performed for over 95,000 children with medically fragile conditions and disabilities. This year, they are on track to triple their pre-pandemic numbers and serve 2,000 children.

The actors reflected on their time performing in virtual educational programs throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and passionately celebrated their return to Broadway. Looking back on her “humble beginnings” growing up in a trailer in Illinois, “Kimberly Akimbo” star Bonnie Milligan said she’s extremely grateful for the theatre industry’s timely comeback.

“I just think of the little girl from the Midwest that just wanted to be a part of it all,” Milligan told Variety. “And I get to be part of it now. So even when you’re really tired, you don’t forget your blessings.”

Brooke Haney, who joined the acting company in 2018, spotlighted how Only Make Believe supported its actors when their shows were canceled at the start of the pandemic.

“There’s already so much scarcity for actors that that was the moment for me that fear set in,” Haney recalled. “Most actors lost all of their income including their survival jobs.”

Amid all of the uncertainty, Only Make Believe’s board of directors was able to obtain a PPP loan and pay its actors for four straight months.

“It gave us, the actors, a gift of a little stability,” Haney said. “Only Make Believe is a company that stands by its actors in the back and in the worst of times.”

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