Monday, December 10, 2007

Great Spirit, Great Music, Great Cause

Posted by Bruce Miller

Singing to raise spirits and charitable funds is a time honored Christmas tradition.

I’ve just returned from our first Home for the Holidays cabaret. The 16 or so patrons who attended tonight really had a grand time, but I confess I’m disappointed because it appears that the crowds this week are going to be small. As of this writing, we only have 14 reservations for tomorrow evening (Tuesday, Dec 11 at 7:30).

I sure would like to see that change.

The show itself is wonderful. Brett Ambler, Corey Davis, Audra Honaker, Katrina Lewis, Jason Marks, Robyn O’Neill, Fernando Rivadeniera, Janine Serresseque, Erin Thomas, Durron Tyree and Tony Williams sing and play their hearts out for 90 minutes, entertaining with a combination of holiday favorites and Broadway standards. Jan Guarino is sick this week (say a prayer for her recovery by Thursday’s Swingtime Canteen), but tomorrow Cathy Motley-Fitch will be filling in for her. The singers are all volunteering their talents to raise money for the Richmond Theatre Artists Fund. And yet only a few folks are turning out for these first two performances.

Tomorrow (Tuesday’s) show will be a pay-what-you-can performance, and 100% of ticket revenues will go to the Richmond Theatre Artists Fund, governed by RAPT (the Richmond Alliance of Professional Theatres) and managed by the Community Foundation. So if you can’t afford the $25 suggested donation, please come tomorrow (Tuesday) evening—and bring five or six of your friends. It’s a GREAT way to jump start the holiday spirit, and it’s an even better way to support the volunteer performers, who would much prefer to be singing to a full and enthusiastic house than a room half-filled with empty tables.

If don’t understand what the Theatre Artists Fund is all about, and therefore don’t feel inclined to support it, let me try to change your mind. In the past ten years of so, there have been five times when the theatre community came together on an emergency basis to help one of our members deal with a life threatening situation.

We raised $6 thousand or so to keep a roof over the head of one of our colleagues during the final months of his life when he was too sick to work but was nonetheless evicted from his apartment. We raised $8 thousand or so to prevent a lifelong theatre administrator from losing her home when her husband was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, had to stop working, but needed to be out of work for six months before his disability insurance kicked in. We raised several thousand to install a new furnace in the home of a beloved director who was returning from open heart surgery to an unheated home in the dead of winter.

In every instance I’ve counted myself blessed to be a part of a community that cared so much about taking care of its own. The Richmond Theatre Artists Fund lets us begin to meet these emergency needs before they happen. It lets us raise funds on a strategic rather than a crisis basis. The Fund doesn’t exist to help someone out when they’re between jobs and having trouble paying their cable bill. The Fund exists to meet the critical needs of our brothers and sisters when accident or illness stops them in their tracks. No matter how much insurance we have, none of us can protect ourselves from everything. God willing, the Richmond Theatre Artists Fund will be there to help with emergency expenditures when we need help the most.

Isn’t that worth a few bucks and 90 minutes of your time? Don’t you want to support your colleagues who are giving up seven nights in December to try to help others?

Upcoming shows are tomorrow (Tuesday) at 7:30, this Saturday at 11 pm, and next Monday and Tuesday at 7:30. All performances are in Barksdale’s Willow Lawn lobby. Please call the Barksdale box at 282-2620 to make your reservations.

I hope you’ll join us for this wonderful, joyous and very worthwhile performance.

--Bruce Miller

1 comment:

Thespis' Little Helper said...

Katrinah Lewis' interpreation (and it's rare to get to say that) of "Christmas Lullaby" from Songs for a New World by Jason Robert Brown is particularly...incredible moving and beautiful. If you didn't get a chance to see her "Way Back to Paradise" from Michael John LaChiusa's Marie Christine in the Into the Woods cabaret this summer....or even if you gotta check this out.