Singing for a cause
Locals take stage to help area youth
By Heidi Masek email@example.com
Twice a year, the members of Miracle Providers Northeast throw a stage extravaganza with the purpose of helping children and families affected by HIV. Service agencies weren’t getting full support in that area when the group was founded about ten years ago, said treasurer Rick Hall, of Manchester. “It’s just grown from there,” he said of the organization.
Their spring cabaret show, “Broadway to Hollywood Divas, The Encore,” runs Friday, April 11, and Saturday, April 12, at 8 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 462 Broadway in Methuen, Mass.
The performances showcase singers, dancers and female impersonators. They carry over their theme from their November show so that they can reuse their stage. They also reuse a few numbers, but also add new ones. Hall’s favorite is the big finale closer, “Can’t Stop the Beat,” from Hairspray. Their director, Dennis Grundlock, has been a national entertainment director for a cruise ship company and has worked with theme park entertainment.
Miracle Providers hopes to raise about $6,000 from these shows. Funds help send 20 and 25 children to summer camp. The group’s fall show, along with other fundraisers, helps fill holiday wish lists for about 300 children whose families are affected by HIV. Miracle Providers Northeast works with seven agencies that collect the wish lists. Miracle Providers uses a “Black Friday” shopping squadron of members to stretch funds for the project; they finish with a gift-wrapping party. Area agencies they serve include Merrimack Valley AIDS Project, Greater Manchester AIDS Project and Southern New Hampshire AIDS Task Force.
Tickets to “Broadway to Hollywood Divas, The Encore” cost $20 in advance, $25 at the door. They can seat about 200, have sold out shows and hope to sell out both nights. Drinks are available at the hall’s cash bar. Call (978) 458-9838 or see www.miracleprovidersne.org.
This year, Jayme’s Fund for Social Justice will have given out about $50,000 since 2003. Jayme’s Fund board member Jaime Feinberg met Jayme Anne Lipkin-Moore in seventh grade when they attended Derryfield. Jayme transferred to Pinkerton Academy in 10th grade, but they remained friends. Lipkin-Moore died in 2002 at age 17.
“She was always talking about what was going on in the world, she knew an incredible amount [about] current events,” Feinberg said. She tried to get young people involved and caring about politics in high school, and interned for the Derry News. She started an underground newspaper at Pinkerton, and started an Amnesty International chapter there — which took a few years, due to various challenges. It’s still active, Feinberg said. She attended leadership conferences and wrote letters to her senators and congressional representatives. Her first major public project was making 40 teddy bears to give to terminally ill children in a local hospital as part of her Bat Mitzvah. “Basically everything you can imagine a young person can do to help people out she was involved in doing. She was pretty fantastic,” Feinberg said.
Jayme’s Fund’s big annual fundraiser features jazz guitarist John Pizzarelli at the Stockbridge Theatre April 11. But the group is warming up with a show produced and directed by Feinberg on Friday, April 4, and Saturday, April 5, at 8 p.m. at St. Peter’s Church, 3 Peabody Row, Londonderry; tickets cost $10.
Feinberg, a music director and instructor, doesn’t usually put together whole shows herself, but she’s recruited people she knows in the New Hampshire theater scene to put on a revue called “Heart and Music: The Best Theater Songs You Haven’t Heard.”
It includes a great local actor, Dylan Gamblin, and some folks who are often the ones doing the organizing, such as Tajoura Davis, who has produced for Yellow Taxi, and John Sefel, Ghostlight founder and Acting Loft director. Also participating are Tom Holmes, Marc Pelletier, Robbie Feinberg and sound experts Anja Parish and Nat Ward.
The singers are also the orchestra — participants take turns playing instruments or singing.
“I’ve always been interested in more obscure musical theater that people don’t necessarily know about, especially stuff that doesn’t make its way to New Hampshire,” Feinberg said. She made a list of favorite musical theater songs she’d like to put in a revue, and realized what direction it was heading in. Rather than mix in the more well-known songs, she figured obscurity could be a “selling point.”
They will pull from Cannibal the Musical and Evil Dead, the Musical and other unconventional titles, she said. Most of the actors didn’t know Jayme, but they are donating their time to perform, as are the technicians. Equipment is donated, and the church is letting them rehearse and perform there free of charge. That means all the proceeds from the $10 tickets go to Jayme’s Fund. Feinberg is hoping to raise at least $2,000, but if they sell out the space they can raise $5,000 or $6,000, she said. At intermission, the audience can vote by donation for their favorite actors to perform a duet in Act 2. Whichever actors receive the most money will perform the duet. Feinberg also plans to involve the audience through a few sing-a-longs and a “Time Warp” dance-a-long.
Jayme’s Fund provides grants to support or provide scholarships for Summerbridge Manchester and Breakthrough Collaborative, Southern New Hampshire HIV/AIDS Task Force and Child Health Services among others. While mainly focused on helping local youth, Jayme’s Fund also supports one or two international organizations each year. This year, it is supporting an organization that benefits children orphaned because of the tsunami in Sri Lanka who are also affected by civil war.
Because Jayme had so much momentum that ended at 17, people who knew her felt they needed to keep going, Feinberg said. She admired her friend but didn’t see herself as a social activist until Jayme’s death. Feinberg “felt obligated,” she said.
One of the Jayme’s Fund projects is hosting the Speak Truth to Power exhibit at Stockbridge through May 5. The photographs and text from this book by Kerry Kennedy and Eddie Adams (Crown, 2000) tell the story of 51 people fighting for human rights from 40 countries.
For more information, see jaymesfund.org or myspace.com/heartandmusic2008 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. “Heart and Music” is not recommended for children under 13.