Broadway stars show solidarity with Ukraine in moving Times Square performance

by Abdulhaqq Obisesan Oladimeji
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“Do You Hear the People Sing?” from the Tony Award-winning musical “Les Miserables” is what some members of the Broadway community call their anti-war anthem as war wages on in Ukraine.

On Sunday, a group of performers weathered heavy rain to sing the song at a musical vigil in Times Square, saying they felt called to action after Russian forces bombed a theater in Ukraine last month.

Local authorities in Ukraine said hundreds of people — including children — had taken shelter there.

“One of the greatest exports that we have is hope,” said Shakina Nayfack, an actor who helped organize Sunday’s event. “And right now, there are a lot of people who are facing hopeless circumstances, and we want to inspire them to keep fighting, and keep being courageous, and keep looking to the future.”
The bombing of the theater “really inspired us to get together to bring awareness,” Tony Award-winning actor Lauren Patten said.

“Not just of what’s happening in general in Ukraine, but what’s specifically happening, which is not just a generalized war, but is actually an assault on the sovereignty of these people,” Patten added.

Ukrainian Americans were among the hundreds in attendance on Sunday. Mariana Kopylyak is Ukrainian, but has lived in Brooklyn for several years. She said it filled her with pride to see New York City rally around the Ukrainian people.

“My body is here, but my heart is in Ukraine,” Kopylyak said. “We all support Ukraine. Now we strong.”

Electronic billboards lit up in blue and yellow, the colors of the Ukrainian flag. The performers’ rendition of “Do You Hear the People Sing?” also included a translated verse in Ukrainian.

“It felt so powerful, and even seeing all of the screens turned into the Ukrainian flag, it was bringing tears to my eyes,” said Anya Kosachevich, a Ukrainian-American singer. “I just hope that I really keep spreading awareness, and it motivates people to help donate or rally or call their representatives and do whatever they can to help.”

Organizers are encouraging New Yorkers to donate to nonprofits and organizations that help Ukrainians in need. More information can be found on their website.

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