Wednesday, October 17, 2007

What Good Is Sitting Alone In Your Room?....

Michael and his ladies. Teddie is on the right; Donna is on the left. Donna and Michael have played a married couple on stage many many times. I wish I had her legs.


It's been over a month since the cabaret. How on earth have I been spending my time?....
  • I went to a liver doctor
  • and had some blood work done
  • and it was all fine (so we don't know why I'm slightly jaundiced)
  • the kids went to the pediatrician with respiratory infections
  • and had to be on nebulizers night and day
  • but I still took my trip to Chicago
  • and baked my tushy off, which will be the subject of another post
  • then came back and did a fundraising walk
  • and went straight from there to the hospice to be with my Gram
  • where I caught a head cold
  • and gave it to my brother from Singapore
  • while we cleaned out my grandmother's apartment
  • Then I went to back-to-school night at the elementary school (but missed the middle school)
  • and took a kid to the pediatric nephrologist
  • and had a big yard sale
  • followed by an even bigger trip to Goodwill afterward
  • and tried to return the house to normal after that
  • but we had a plumbing crisis
  • so thank goodness my brother was still in town
  • 'cuz he can fix anything
  • but then he had to return to Singapore
  • and the rest of us tried to spend some time at da shore to decompress
  • and came back to IEP meetings at school
  • and taking a kid to the pediatrician AGAIN (that's THREE in one month but who's counting?)
  • 'cuz this kid seems to be sleepwalking from time to time
  • and was coughing so hard in his sleep he couldn't catch his breath
  • which is scary at 3am
  • but the Flonase at bedtime seems to be helping
  • (the coughing if not the sleepwalking)
  • and last week my glasses broke very suddenly
  • and I don't have back-ups
  • so I got fancy new glasses
  • and they pinch my nose.
Phew, I'm exhausted. Pass the tequila.


So, we had this, like, um, cabaret, ya know? To, like, raise money? Cuz my hubby is soooooo funny and like, entertaining and all, when he gets up on stage? And he has friends who are funny and talented as well? And you can, like, drink wine while they perform, so it's really, like cool?

When Michael hosts and organizes a cabaret, he likes to suggest material to the performers, in addition to them bringing their own ideas to the table. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of the American musical theater -- the more obscure, the better. This tends to yield interesting results, such as current popular tunes from say, Wicked, nestled in next to something from The Magic Show (what?). It keeps the audience on their toes, and hence engaged.

I'd say we were in pretty decent shape heading into the cabaret weekend. No one was sick, we had about 65 RSVPs for a capacity of 90ish, which seemed like a good ratio. The performers -- Michael and our friends Teddie, Donna, Liz, Chris, and Paul -- were all seasoned pros, sure to put on a great show.

One of the realities of putting on a cabaret at The Players Club is that space is in high demand.* We have a wonderful facility, but with a seven-production Mainstage series and six Second Stage productions, rehearsal space is always at a premium. In addition, there is a long-standing relationship between the Club and a kids' training program run by the Young People's Theatre Workshop (of which I was a charter student lo these many centuries ago). The result is that the Second Stage space is under the YPTW's exclusive use on all Saturdays until 3pm, giving us a mere four hours to clean, set up, prep, and generally get ready for the 7pm start time.

*Just because I love the photos, you can see shots of my production of Man and Superman here, if you like.

I had promised Michael weeks earlier that I would handle all "front of house" duties, leaving him free to direct the real action. "Front of house duties" basically consist of setting up (very heavy) platforms in the audience space, arranging (90 or so) chairs around little cafe tables for the audience to sit on (at?), and putting out some light refreshments. One is then free to sit fetchingly at the doorway and collect people's money as they arrive.

No problem, right?

I had inveigled a few theatre friends into agreeing to help out on Saturday afternoon. Unfortunately one of them became ill, and the entire task of setting up the space fell to me an our good neighbor, Candy. Thank the good lord for Candy, because there is no way in heaven or earth that we would have gotten it done without her. In addition to hauling chairs with me for 3+ hours, she came back for the show and hawked raffle tickets while I tended to the gate.

Tending the gate was like being the hostess at a really relentless open-house. Of the 95 people who piled in, I knew all but about 3 of them. Madness! I was holding up the line with my excessive hugging of audience members, but tant pis. It was wonderful to see so many friends (many of whom we no longer see regularly, due to our having stepped back from theatre projects these last years), and needless to say, incredibly touching to have them all come out in support of our fundraising. We had suggested to folks that they bring checks made out to the Foundation rather than pay in cash, and virtually everyone either rounded their check up from our suggest ticket price of $12 each, or used it as an excuse to make a nice hefty donation (Cousins Mark & Pat, I'm looking at you!).

During this time, Candy was working the room selling raffle tickets. Did I mention the raffle baskets? This was really a last minute inspiration and one that would not have happened without some truly remarkable friends. Michael is a regular at The Happy Rooster in Philadelphia, where he has befriended Rose, the owner. Mooooooooonths ago he was telling Rose about our fundraising cabaret idea, and she (unprovoked!) whipped out a $50 gift certificate. Well, we sat on that for a while, thinking we'd auction it off or some such. Then, a few weeks before the cabaret, I had a dinner date with my wonderful ladies Maureen, Cindy, and Barb. These ladies and I all met and became friends years ago through our work with non-profit arts agencies in Philadelphia. I was updating them on the cabaret and mentioned Rose's lovely gift certificate, and they each instantly came up with ideas of additional items that they could procure through their contacts. (I, being a corporate sell-out, no longer have contacts in the arts. But my car is paid off, so it's all good.)

The result of all of this spontaneous brainstorming was two wonderful raffle baskets, each with a restaurant gift card, each with multiple passes to the SouthStreet Seaport Museum, one with great seats to see the Philadelphia Orchestra at the Kimmel Center, and one with a year-long family membership to the Philadelphia Constitution Center. Do my ladies rock, or WHAT! They pulled this off in literally 10 days or so, which is perhaps the most remarkable thing of all.

And the raffle baskets brought in about $500 in revenue. Woo-hoo!


In the interest of delayed gratification (and in the interest of getting home in time for dinner), I will post separately about the show itself. To be continued!


Anonymous said...

Oh, my goodness! I don't know how you've maintained your sanity through all this!! Sorry, no tequila but here, have a mimosa. I've decided they're perfectly wonderful breakfast drink!

So, was the visit to the nephrologist because of active kidney problems or for preventative advice for the child?

And, your jaundice? Is it gone? Still there? No idea what's causing it?

Take care of yourself. Rest!! Here, have another mimosa.


RuthWells said...

Mimosas, yum! What a nice idea! : )

The nephrologist visit was a follow-up to Q's diagnosis back in February. No further follow-up will be needed for now, thank goodness.

The jaundice is faint, it comes and goes. Just one more thing to keep an eye on. : -/

Bob said...

Congratulations on all of your successful fundraising efforts, Ruth!

RuthWells said...

Thanks, Bob! I'm still waiting for the Foundation to get everything logged on the website -- it somehow won't feel official until I see it on the screen