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Music for MedWish livestream: Northeast Ohioans take center stage for coronavirus relief effort

Shaker Heights' Betsy Werbel and Akron native Lisa Howard to lend voices for COVID-19 relief.

CLEVELAND — Shaker Heights native Betsy Werbel is a veteran of the Broadway stage. She's starred in shows like "Wicked" and "Les Miserables."

But now, times are tough for the theater community. Curtains are down, and shows closed through at least June. In the center of the coronavirus pandemic, they're also out of work. 

"I have a lot of friends who are sick, that are not fighting for their lives, but a lot of them have been sick," Werbel said. "I think we're all very nervous about work and just life in general."

Her friend, Lisa Howard, is another Northeast Ohio native. She's originally from Akron, and has made her career on Broadway, starring in shows like "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" and "Escape to Margaritaville."

She spoke with 3News as she decamped to the bathroom in her New York City home.

"I am in my bathroom because my son is practicing its clarinet the only place I can hear anybody," she laughed.

But of course, times are tough for Howard and her theater colleagues.

"Today I have to file for unemployment, you know, because all my sources of income, all the different things that I do, are not happening right now," she said.

Despite these uncertain times for those who live their lives on stage, these talents with Northeast Ohio roots are lending their voices to a great cause, close to home -- a Facebook livestream concert raising money for Cleveland-based nonprofit MedWish.

"MedWish is doing so many amazing things right now for the COVID-19 relief and they need help, and we all, I think, want to help, and we all want to know that our money is going somewhere where it's it's doing some good," Werbel said.

Their Northeast Ohio roots remain strong.

"Actually, so many performers are from Ohio, and I still have family in Akron," Howard said. "Betsy has family in Cleveland. I go back several times a year, so I feel still feel really connected to the area."

MedWish re-purposes medical supplies for humanitarian aid. On Thursday night, you'll have an opportunity to tune in, and donate

"It's an amazing company, and these are all personal friends of mine who jumped when I said - would you want to do something like this -- they said absolutely, they didn't even think twice," Werbel said. 

In fact, Werbel runs the Music for MedWish program. She says music has a way of uniting us all through these uncertain days.

"I think music heals, and no matter what, I think it's gonna be a special night."


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