A few days ago, my friend Jeremy asked if I’d like to help him collect money for Chicago House, the social service agency where he works, after the Friday night peformance of Wicked. Of course, how could I say no to that? Sounded like fun to me!
He told me that Wicked raises money for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, the organization that raises money in New York and other cities for various HIV/AIDS charities, most of which are based in New York, but also throughout the nation. However, since Chicago now has a permanent cast for Wicked, they were looking for a charity or two in the Chicago area with whom to split the proceeds.
Jeremy received the information from a cast member who used to volunteer for Chicago House, so he sent the company a proposal, which they said they would review. After a few weeks, he contacted them again to see if anything had come of it, and they said, “Oh yeah, we’ve been collecting money for you for the last two weeks!”
He was, of course, elated, and asked if there was anything more on his part that he could do. They told him that they could use some volunteers to stand in the lobby after the show and collect money from the patrons, since the cast members can’t all get out of their costumes and makeup, etc. in time to get out there. So a few volunteers would help alleviate that problem.
So Jeremy asked co-workers and friends to help with this effort, and last night, I, he and our friend Adam all trekked down to the theatre at about 10:00.
We entered through the stage door, which immediately made us feel oh-so-important. Amazingly, nobody really ever questioned what we were doing there or who we were trying to see– they recognized Jeremy from his previous visits and let us in.
So we made our way to the stage manager’s office, where the show, which was in its final minutes, was being shown on a black-and-white display, with the sound piped through the office. In case you didn’t know, Ana Gasteyer, formerly of Saturday Night Live, is starring in this production of Wicked as Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West. She sounded wonderful!
We put on our Wicked T-shirts and baseball caps and headed out toward the lobby as the show reached its end. After the show ended, Ana told the audience about the collection in the lobby for Broadway Cares and Chicago House. Once the lights came up and the cast left the stage, the doors flew open, and the collecting began.
I tell you now, I wish I had a noble cause that I could use to raise money like this. People were dropping $20’s, $10s’s, and any other number of bills into those buckets like you wouldn’t believe. I couldn’t believe how generous they were. It really was wonderful to see.
As the last few people trickled out of the lobby, we went back to the backstage area, where they started to count the loot. We removed our t-shirts and caps (on loan, unfortunately), and got ready to leave.
Just before we left, Jeremy asked if we could get a poster for our friend Rafael, whose birthday we are celebrating tonight (just after I send this post, in fact.) They said “Sure, but wouldn’t you like an autographed copy instead?” “Of course! That’s so generous of you!” we said, and gladly accepted the signed copy. Rafael is going to be SO THRILLED.
And as we made our way toward the back door, we suddenly saw another door open, and there was Ana Gasteyer. We all said “HI!” to her and she replied “Hi guys!” Her makeup was already gone, but she looked wonderful.
Then we made our way out the back door. There were a number of people grouped around the entrance with programs and “Wicked” novels waiting for autographs. “Yes, we’re VERY important,” Jeremy said, and we laughed all the way down the alley.
How much fun was that??!! I’m doing it again next week. 🙂