AIDS fundraisers at area theaters

02:19 PM, Jul 29, 2013

Fight with Love chronicles the emotional journey of an AIDS patient, through music and a libretto (spoken pieces). (Provided by Geva)/


Written By Leah Stacy

If you go

‘Fight with Love’

When: 7 p.m. Friday, 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday and 5 p.m. Sunday.
Where: Geva Theatre Center, 75 Woodbury Blvd.
Cost: $10.
Tickets: (585) 232-4372 or gevatheatre.org.
‘Give to Live’

When: 6 p.m. dessert reception; 7:30 p.m. performance on Aug. 17.
Where: Jewish Community Center of Greater Rochester, 1200 Edgewood Ave., Brighton.
Cost: $15.
Tickets: (585) 461-2000 or jccrochester.org.

Although AIDS is not the automatic death sentence it once was, it continues to be a chronic disease — and one in which access to good health care is key.

This month, two local theaters — CenterStage at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Rochester and Geva Theatre Center — have donated their space for performances to benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, a national organization that provides assistance to people struggling with HIV/AIDS.

The seventh annual Fight with Love will run Friday through Sunday at Geva. It’s student-produced each year under the watchful eye of executive director Marguerite Frarey.

Ben Northrup, an 18-year-old who recently graduated from School of the Arts, will direct this year’s production before he leaves to attend Point Park University in the fall.

Northrup and his production team — also recent SOTA grads and an Eastman student who will accompany the performers — gathered victims’ accounts online, spoke to a local AIDS patient, and built a libretto (spoken pieces) around the song selections in Fight with Love.

It’s basically the emotional journey of a patient,” says Northrup, who began working on the show in March and currently rehearses with the cast three days a week. “But it’s also very show-choir style.”

The lineup includes songs from West Side Story, Rent, 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Into the Woods, Godspell and Newsies
.

The cast and crew range in age from 17 to 23, and no one is directly affected by HIV/AIDS — in fact, they were born long after the AIDS scare of the 1980s — but believe the public should know the ongoing challenges for victims and their families.

It’s necessary to keep this awareness alive,” Northrup says. “I talk to my parents who grew up in the ’80s, and no, it’s not that time where everyone is scared and thinking about it, but it’s still affecting people in our community.”

During the past six years, Fight with Love has raised more than $18,000 for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. This year, the group is hoping for another $5,000 from four performances, and selling desserts at intermission and raffle prizes from Broadway Cares (signed mugs, posters and CDs from Broadway shows), local eateries and theaters.

In mid-August, JCC’s CenterStage will host Give to Live, which debuted at a local bar in 2010 and has returned this year, bigger and better.

Co-directors Laura Marron and Michael Ciaccia are well-known in the theater community, and they’ve snagged local celebrities Diane Chevron and drag queen Kasha Davis to emcee the one-night event.

Diane lived through this in the ’80s, so she remembers going to several funerals per month, so we hear her stories from the forefront of that time,” says Ciaccia, 27. “I think between the lightness of Kasha and the sincerity of Diane, we will really get people thinking.”

To keep the impact of the show hyper-local, Give to Live will split its proceeds evenly between Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and Trillium Health (formerly AIDS Care of Rochester). The group raised around $2,000 in 2010, and the goal is $10,000 this year.

Silent auction goods include signed posters from the Broadway casts of Kinky Boots, Newsies, Avenue Q, The Amazing Spiderman and Annie, as well as packages from the Rochester Broadway Theatre League and other local businesses.

The show won’t feature a libretto like Fight with Love, but Ciaccia and Marron didn’t relegate their cast entirely to show tunes, either.

We wanted to cover a wide array, from Hello Dolly to Glee to Adele,” Ciaccia says. “It’s like a combination Broadway and pop concert. We wanted to make people laugh and entertain them, but also tug at their hearts and inspire.”

About 25 people are involved in the show.

At the end of the day, it’s not our 15 minutes to shine; it’s about the cause,” said Ciaccia. “It’s been 30 years we have been fighting this fight against HIV and AIDS. There still is not a cure.”