Sometimes 14-year-old Charlotte Kerpen of Port Washington gets ideas for projects in the middle of the night that she says are kind of wacky. “When I wake up in the morning, I think, ‘What was I thinking?’ ” she says.
But late on the night of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, she texted this idea to her father: “This might just be midnight Charlotte talking, but I want to do a tribute concert to the Parkland victims.”
When she woke up in the morning, Kerpen found that her dad thought it was a phenomenal idea. So did the people who run the Landmark on Main Street theater in Port Washington. And a lot of student theater, dance and music groups in her hometown.
“Port for Parkland” — a variety show with 17 acts to honor the 17 students killed on Feb. 14 — is set for 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 14, at the Landmark, the one-month anniversary of the shooting. Tickets are $17, and the proceeds will be split between the Broward Education Foundation to help the victims and their families and Sandy Hook Promise, a nonprofit dedicated to preventing gun-related deaths. Kerpen hopes to raise $17,000 through ticket sales and donations.
‘CATALYST FOR HEALING’
“I hope we can do something positive for the victims of Parkland, and at the very least bring something beautiful into the world through dance,” says Elena Sundick, 17, who dances with the Berest Dance Center in Port Washington and will be part of a group performing a piece called “Jar of Hearts.”
Cast members from the recent musical production of “The Little Mermaid” at Port Washington’s Paul D. Schreiber Senior High School will perform “If Only” from the show. Kerpen, a freshman at Schreiber, will be co-master of ceremonies with her friend Danny Le Porin, a 17-year-old senior at Long Island Lutheran High School. Kerpen will also sing “Rise Up” by Andra Day with classmates Kate Magocsi and Becca Packer.
At intermission there will be a bake sale, and Port for Parkland T-shirts will be for sale.
“I felt like I could relate to the students. That could have been me,” Kerpen says of why she felt compelled to organize a benefit show. She says when she saw Parkland students’ Instagram and Snapchat posts, “it felt really close to home.”
As for performers willing to take the stage, “Originally I thought it would be people I know,” she says. “It ended up being so many people who wanted to help, which is so great because we are coming together as a community to help Parkland.”
Eager to join in was the 425-seat Landmark on Main Street.
Executive director Laura Mogul said it took her “30 seconds” to respond to a text from Charlotte’s father asking if the theater would donate its space for an event — and that includes time to put on her glasses to read it. Landmark board members are donating funds to cover any out-of-pocket costs to staff the event, Mogul says.
Kerpen’s parents are, naturally, thrilled to watch things come together.
“Lots of people have great ideas all the time, and the problem is making it really happen,” says Dave Kerpen, a social media entrepreneur who was moved by his daughter’s compassion and eager to show her and other kids how they can make their ideas a reality. “She’s put together a terrific show with 17 acts. This would be an enormous endeavor for an adult to take on. To know that you can have an idea and make that happen, that is a wonderful lesson.”