Vanguard to hold gun-control benefit concert

MONTCLAIR, NJ — On Saturday, May 12, at 8 p.m., Vanguard Theater Company will present “Sing For Our Lives” at the First Congregational Church, 40 S. Fullerton Ave. in Montclair, to benefit Moms Demand Action and Everytown for Gun Safety.

Scheduled on the eve of Mother’s Day, this concert will focus on stories, songs and spoken word about creation, life, love and loss, and draw attention to gun violence across communities. Co-sponsored by Moms Demand Action, Students Demand Action and Everytown for Gun Safety, “Sing For Our Lives” seeks to bring the surrounding communities together with diverse performances from Broadway artists, area schools and local performers.

Elisa Van Duyne, director of “Sing for Our Lives” for Vanguard Theater Company, is a professional performer, choreographer and arts educator with a passion for music, dance and theater. She felt called to organize this event after the February shooting in Parkland, Fla. She and Jessica Sporn, Vanguard Theater Company managing director, happened to be at the same Moms Demand Action meeting in March at the FCC.

“I had been working with Vanguard on an event for Women’s History Month in conjunction with Seton Hall University,” Van Duyne said. “That event was postponed for logistical reasons. When I saw Jessica at the MDA meeting, we had the same idea — let’s do a fundraiser for MDA using some of the material we had been working on, add other appropriate material, and involve some of the student groups that were so active in March for Our Lives, Newark.”

Once Vanguard connected with Moms Demand Action, the event came together quickly. In addition to professional performers from the Broadway community plus talented student performers from nearby schools singing songs of motherhood, creation, life and loss, the evening will feature choral performances from Cicely Tyson School of the Arts and Wayne Valley High School. Elijah Brown of Rutgers University-Newark and Princess Sabaroche of NorthStar Academy in Newark, who moved the crowds at the Newark March for Our Lives, will speak and the evening will be interspersed with scenes and monologues from the play collection “Code Red,” directed and presented by members of Vanguard Theater Company’s Junior Board.

“The event will be a celebration of creation, life and love, while raising money and awareness to combat gun violence,” Sporn said. “It will be appropriate for all ages, and we hope people will leave feeling inspired and empowered.”

Vanguard will donate proceeds from the event to Everytown for Gun Safety, Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action to aid the fight for sensible gun regulations and prevent further gun violence.

Tickets are available for purchase at For more information, visit or call 973-632-2523.