University Theatre Plans 24th Annual Benefit for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids
The student-led University Theatre group at West Chester University is busily planning their 24th annual benefit show and silent auction to support Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids, a New York-based non-profit that provides services to those living with AIDS and HIV. Performances are staged in the Mainstage Theatre at the E.O. Bull Center for the Arts, 2 E. Rosedale Ave., West Chester. General admission tickets are $12 and are available at http://wcupatix.com/organization-events. Performances are Friday, December 8, and Saturday, December 9, at 7: 30 p.m., and Saturday, December 9, and Sunday, December 10, at 2 p.m.
The benefit has become a well-attended campus highlight each December. Themed ‘A Night On Broadway,’ this year’s cabaret-style show includes songs from the Broadway shows Hair, Beautiful: A Carol King Musical, Mary Poppins, Grease, and others. The musical numbers are interspersed with facts and stories about HIV and AIDS. Sixteen numbers will be performed with over 100 students participating as either performers or staff.
In addition to full-cast opening and closing segments, audiences will hear songs from each class in the Department of Theatre & Dance, as well as performances by campus student groups that include Top Drawer Swing Dance, High Street Harmonix, The Grace Notes, Suspensions, and Deep Dish Improv. The ever-popular “Showtune Showdown” returns and audiences will choose the winner by throwing $1 into a bucket to cast a vote.
A silent auction and merchandise sales area will be in the lobby before each performance. In addition to T-shirt and baked goods sales, auction items include Broadway memorabilia donated by Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids, tickets to theatres in Philadelphia, and gift cards from local restaurants.
Senior and Producer Grace Halsey double majors in Theatre and Communications Sciences and Disorders. She says, “I have been a part of the Broadway Cares benefit for the past two years. It is just so fun to raise money for a good cause. Finding out the total and what we have helped make happen is so rewarding…it feels good to help people.”
Halsey adds, “We are focusing a lot more on fundraising this year and are hoping to get back to pre-Covid fundraising levels. We are doing some dine-and-donate promotions with local restaurants in West Chester, all in the hopes of crushing our goal of $20,000.”
Director Emily Wiest is a senior Theatre major with a concentration in Musical Theatre and a minor in Elementary Education. Wiest adds, “My favorite part of working on this benefit is doing what I love with people who also love the same thing, and all for a cause that we have grown to be so passionate about.”
Stage manager Audrey Otto is a Theatre major with a concentration in Design and Production. Otto says, “My favorite part is watching the work transform through the rehearsal process. I watch from the booth and witness the energy emanating from the performers onstage, and also the love that the audience gives back. It’s all so rewarding.”
The West Chester University event is one of the largest outside sources of funding for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids. Last year’s benefit raised nearly $17,000 in proceeds from the auction, ticket sales, and donations.
Tom Viola, the Executive Director of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids, says, “We are so grateful for the passionate and hardworking students at West Chester University, who have raised more than $150,000 for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids over these last 24 years. These tenacious and dedicated students are leading the charge of young people creating advocacy and action through the arts. Their creativity, goodwill, and commitment to social justice is the wind in our sails upon which we all will ride into the future.”
For information on Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids visit www.broadwaycares.org.