It never ceases to amaze me how philanthropic both Damian and Helen are, especially when it comes to theatrical works or for children and youth organizations that help deliver curricula in education, life skills, and the creative arts. And 2019 was no different! From theatre arts and Red Nose Day to charity concerts, ice cream, and BGC/GFI Charity Day, we have it all broken down for you here. Let’s get started with an unexpected and surprising theatrical performance, Whodunnit.
This summer at London’s Park Theatre Damian participated in Whodunnit [Unrehearsed], a murder mystery play, without having rehearsed or seen a script, all in the name of charity. Can you imagine acting in front of a live audience without any direction prior to your appearance? Each performance night meant there would be a different guest performer stepping in as the Inspector with a rehearsed ensemble. This means the only direction Damian received came via a hidden earpiece, receiving instructions as the actors on stage attempt to solve a crime in real time, all the while avoiding furniture and staggering their way to crack the case at hand. What I loved about the concept of this play is that the mystery was not so much who the murderer was, but who the Inspector would be! Ticket goers had no idea which celebrity would be appearing as the Inspector each night until the start of the play. Imagine you’re in the audience and they announce Damian Lewis to the stage. That’s exactly what happened to the woman in orange in this video:
If only we could have been there! Well, View From the Outside was there during Damian’s performance and had this to say:
“Last night I had the great pleasure of seeing Whodunnit (unrehearsed) at the Park Theatre (a very generous treat from my lovely mum). Today my mouth feels a whole lot wider from excessive laughing and smiling. That is a thing right? Aching mouth aside, this is a much needed dose of pure silliness. I’m hoping it isn’t giving too much away to say that my inspector was played by the wonderful Damian Lewis. All I’ll say is that Damian Lewis is a brilliant sport and seemed to be enjoying himself. I added “seemed” purely because he is such a talented actor, for all I know he was screaming inside and is now in an emergency session with a therapist. I must confess that I was clapping and whooping with the best of them when Damian Lewis was revealed as our inspector, dignity be damned! However, I will say that the show is designed in such a way that you’ll have a great night no matter who you get. So if you’re sobbing into your tea because you had your heart set on getting the lovely Damian, fear not, there is still a long list of eye-wateringly fabulous celebrities waiting in the wings.”
Whodunnit [Unrehearsed] was described as a murder mystery spoof with one hell of a twist. The play is set in an isolated manor against the backdrop of a brewing storm. The setting is a classic 1950’s murder mystery, an isolated manor, a body and a cast of characters that includes the Lord of the Manor, his wayward daughter, the housekeeper, and her son who is in love with the daughter. Then a mysterious stranger arrives. The play was narrated by Sir Ian McKellen and Dame Judi Dench.
Other guest Inspectors included, Clive Anderson, Gillian Anderson, John Bishop, Matthew Broderick, Gyles Brandreth, Marcus Brigstocke, Jim Broadbent, Adrian Dunbar, Adam Hills, Ronan Keating, Maureen Lipman, Joanna Lumley, Jason Manford, Neil Morrissey, Clarke Peters, Meera Syal, Catherine Tate, Sandi Toksvig, Tim Vine, Bradley Walsh, and Ruby Wax.
All these stars donated their time to support a fundraising effort, with money raised going towards the cost of keeping the Park Theatre – a registered charity – open to the public.
And now for some behind the scenes photos!
Red Nose Day
In May, 2019 Damian participated in NBC’s Red Nose Day Special that included a star-studded lineup of celebrities who participated in music, comedy and short documentary films that educated and engaged viewers on eradicating global child poverty. Damian was part of the music video that included Daryl Hall and John Oats (of Hall and Oats) re-imagining their iconic hit “You Make My Dreams” as stars from all walks of the industry lip synched, danced, and mimed playing instruments. Of course Damian truly played one of his guitars in what looked liked his very own backyard for his segment. And don’t you imagine it was probably one of his family members who video taped him for the musical act?
Other stars in the music video included Skylar Astin, Stephanie Beatriz, Paul Blackthorne, Justin Cornwell, Terry Crews, Yaya DaCosta, Josh Dallas, Harriet Dyer, Gloria Estefan, Melissa Fumero, Akbar Gbajabiamila, Savannah Guthrie, Jenna Bush Hager, Tony Hale, Zuri Hall, Matt Iseman, Jane Levy, Howie Mandel, Stephen Merchant, Carey Mulligan, Jamie Oliver, Kal Penn, Retta, Melissa Roxburgh, Amanda Seales, Lilly Singh, Ben Stiller, Mary Steenburgen, Eamonn Walker and Susan Kelechi.
“What I want, you’ve got
And it might be hard to handle
But like the flame that burns the candle
The candle feeds the flame, yeah yeahWhat I’ve got’s full stock of thoughts and dreams that scatter
You pull them all together
And how, I can’t explain,
Oh yeah, well well you
You make my dreams come true
Well well you, oh yeah
You make my dreams come true”
Comic Relief USA, the nonprofit that runs Red Nose Day, also announced the renewal of all core partners: Comcast NBCUniversal, Walgreens, Mars Wrigley Confectionery and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in support of the campaign’s mission.
For more about the 2019 efforts, please visit Red Nose Day here.
Ruby Violet’s Ice Cream
Damian endorsed his neighbor and fellow Tufnell Park community store Ruby Violet Ice Cream and Sorbet in a crowd sourcing effort. The store is seeking investments to meet exciting new opportunities because the increased demand has made their small kitchen unable to meet the range and size of orders. By upgrading their equipment and workspace, they will be able to meet existing and future demand, and keep innovating. Damian gave them a shout out in this video:
Bob Dylan and Neil Young Concert
Well it’s only natural for Bobby Axelrod to see his Traveling Wilbury (Bob Dylan) in concert! In July Damian and Helen attended The Bob Dylan and Neil Young Concert, a concert that was originally part of the British Summer Time annual event series in Hyde Park. But Young spoke out against the show after tickets were put on sale thanks to its sponsorship by Barclaycard, which the singer called a “fossil fuel funding entity.”
The historic first coming together of two of rock’s biggest protest singers on British soil occurred on the same day that many other similarly politically green-minded music stars, including Radiohead, Foals and Hot Chip, called on the Government to take action over climate change.
Pictured here with Darren Strowger, Damian and Helen viewed the concert from the Teen Cancer America Suite, along with other stars like Cara Delevingne, Poppy Delevingne, Sadie Frost, and Kate Moss. Teen Cancer America creates state-of-the-art youth-focused programs and facilities to meet the needs of teens and young adults with cancer, improving the experience, outcomes and survival of teens. Most hospitals do not have special programs or facilities for the age group of 13 to 24-year-olds. For more information about Teen Cancer America, visit their website here.
As for the show, reports say Neil Young – one of the original Woodstock hippy stars – strolled out on stage with a smile and strapped on his battered old black Les Paul guitar. His segment was all about the instrument and its possibilities. He and his musicians, who are led by Willie Nelson’s son Lukas, jammed their way through a set of memorable numbers.
Bob Dylan, who emerged 45 minutes later with no fanfare or introduction, appeared on stage, sat behind his grand piano, and opened with “Ballad of a Thin Man.” Dylan was composed and unwavering, sticking mostly to the set he had been playing on tour all summer. He popped in a few favorites, including “Highway 61 Revisited” and “Like a Rolling Stone.”
Here is a video from the concert:
BGC Charity Day
Both BGC and GFI Charity Day are on the same day each year, September 11. I will share information about BGC while my blogger counterpart Damianista will discuss GFI Charity Day in her CureEB post.
Damian and Helen hit the trading floor and wowed brokers for the Sir Hubert von Herkomer Arts Foundation at BGC Charity Day in Canary Wharf, One Churchill Place, on September 11, 2019 in London, England.
SirHvHArts Foundation is a foundation dedicated to ensuring that every child is given a chance to connect with and express their inner artist in a time when funding for the arts are squeezed out of the mainstream curriculum. By funding after and out of school classes in primary and secondary state schools in England, the Foundation provides children with the inspiration and tools to develop lifelong artistic passions.
Their team of teachers and arts professionals offer a series of ten-week courses at after school clubs and during school holidays. The courses cover subjects such as oil painting, digital photography, sculpting, drama, song writing and poetry.
The Foundation also provides primary and secondary state schools in England with arts-related materials and funds school trips and excursions.