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Donating from the art

By Kristin Aoun

April 24, 2008 9:44 p.m.

Lately, it seems like everyone at UCLA is using the arts to fundraise for a worthy cause. Events like Dance Marathon and Shakespeare at UCLA’s 24-hour musical make humdrum fundraisers a thing of the past.

“Especially this year, I have heard of a lot of student groups with other productions, which have potential (to use the arts to fundraise),” said third-year theater student Jacob Silva.

Silva, along with 15 other third-year theater students, will be presenting “A Broadway Musical Revue” this Saturday and Sunday in Northwest Campus Auditorium. The students will perform a revue of various musical theater and movie songs to raise money for the organization Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. The show is free, but donations are suggested.

“Personally, I have had an increasing realization that there is a need for more people to give money to others in order to keep our world in check,” said Caitlin Beitel, a third-year theater student who juggles the roles of director, choreographer and performer for the revue.

Beitel came up with the idea for the show last year, as a way to showcase the talent of her theater student peers who have limited performing opportunities within their major, and decided to make it a fundraiser as well.

Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS fundraises through the theatrical community nationwide and has raised over $140 million since its founding in 1988. Donations to the organization are dispersed to provide “critically needed” services for entertainment industry professionals and performing artists with HIV and AIDS, in addition to providing grants for local AIDS service organizations.

“There are a lot of connections for AIDS with being gay, along with being gay and being associated with Broadway. … Even though it is a stereotype, it is close to home,” said Nicky Hirata, the show’s costume designer, who will be building some costumes and pulling others out of the actors’ own wardrobes.

“They don’t choose this. As human beings we need to see that.”

Keeping the influence of AIDS upon musical theater in mind, the revue will honor some of those within the theater world who have passed away because of AIDS-related complications, in addition to shows that explore the hardships of living with AIDS.

Songs by Howard Ashman, lyricist for Disney animated films “The Little Mermaid” and “Beauty and the Beast” as well as author, lyricist and director for the stage musical “Little Shop of Horrors” will be performed at the revue, since his life was prematurely taken by AIDS when he was 40.

Also, the work of Michael Bennett, creator, choreographer and director of “A Chorus Line” and choreographer of “Company,” who died from AIDS-related lymphoma at the age of 44, will be featured. And of course, there will also be songs from “Rent.”

“Hopefully people will not only be entertained, but also remember the show has a message,” Hirata said.

People are often more willing to help others if they can get immediate self-satisfaction. But instead of enticing the taste buds of potential donors or offering a car wash, students are tapping into the persuasive power of art.

“It is the epitome of what art in general is capable of,” Silva said. “Our generation is definitely attempting to use this form of fundraising more often.”

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