Carmel Valley couple arranges fundraiser around Broadway play’s San Diego run

Liz Nederlander Coden and Daniel Coden
Liz Nederlander Coden and Daniel Coden
(Courtesy)

Using lifelong connections in the theater world, Liz Nederlander Coden, with husband Daniel Coden’s support, organized a smashingly successful 2017 fundraiser in conjunction with the Broadway hit, “Hamilton.”

Two years later, the Carmel Valley couple are hoping for a similar success Jan. 11 with a charity event they are co-chairing along with the San Diego premiere of Tony Award-winning musical “Dear Evan Hansen.”

The event will take place at the San Diego Civic Theatre. Proceeds will benefit Jewish Family Services of San Diego.

“It was a really huge success,” Liz Coden said of the ‘Hamilton’ fundraiser, which raised more than $600,000 for JFS and the Jewish Community Center. “We were happy to do (a fundraiser) again when we had the opportunity, but it had to be the right show. ...

“This show (Dear Evan Hansen) — not only have a lot of people not seen it, but it’s just so pertinent to these issues of today.”

The Codens had an opportunity to invest in Hamilton, which they did not do, to their regret. Though they didn’t invest in “Dear Evan Hansen,” they are enthusiastic about it for its entertainment value as well as its message.

“Hamilton was a once-in-a-lifetime show,” Liz Coden said. “(Dear Evan Hansen) also is a brilliant show. It’s a different animal, but it is one of the most engrossing Broadway shows I’ve seen.”

The play tells the story of an anxiety-ridden teenager who is thrust into social media stardom.

“Dear Evan Hansen” in 2017 received Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Score, Best Actor for a Musical (Ben Platt) and Best Featured Actress in a Musical (Rachel Bay Jones).

The Codens, the parents of three adult children, said the theme ties in with the issues of suicidal tendencies and the impact of social media.

“We just thought it would be a good one to do a fundraiser with,” Liz Coden said. “Raising awareness is the key to this fundraiser.”

Those who buy the $1,000 partially tax-deductible ticket package to the Jan. 11 show will be entitled to a premium front orchestra seat, a VIP dinner before the show, plus a panel discussion with the cast.

The package includes valet parking and a ticket to Jewish Family Services’ Behavioral Health Signature Luncheon on the topic of teens, mental health and social media.

A $500 partially tax-deductible ticket will entitle the donor to a front orchestra seat. Tickets can be obtained at jfssd.org/dearevanhansen and questions can be addressed to Dana Levin at 858-637-3013 or danal@jfssd.org.

Money will benefit only JFS and not the JCC, which is not participating because it has another event going on at the same time.

Liz Coden said the money generated Jan. 11 will benefit an organization she and her family have come to value over the years because of its altruism benefiting a spectrum of the populace.

“Jewish Family Services is helping people in so many ways,” she said. “The work they do is really profound.”

Said Dan Coden of Jewish Family Services: “They help everybody. They help people of all denominations. They help as many non-Jews as they help Jews.”

Liz Coden’s connections to theater stem from family relations in Detroit, as her maiden and middle name, Nederlander, suggests.

She said her grandfather founded the Nederlander Organization, which continues to be a leader in presenting Broadway theatrical performances.

“I grew up in Broadway theater and I love Broadway theater,” she said.

Liz Coden followed Dan to this area while her young husband was attending UCSD en route to becoming a licensed and now highly sought ophthalmologist.

As he did during the “Hamilton” gala, he will again serve as host at the Jan. 11 festivities.

“I’m so proud of Liz that she’s doing this,” the jocular eye doctor said of the fundraiser. “It’s really Liz’s idea. I’m just the eye candy.”


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