Last year’s 23rd annual Aids Benefit. Image by Hally Everett.
Erin McGinnis is involved in the 24th Annual AIDS Benefit.
There’s nothing like a feel-good, do-good deed. This weekend, take a break from the books to support the arts and help someone in need this holiday season.
The students on staff for the 24th Annual AIDS Benefit and Silent Auction have been fundraising hard this semester, with three late-night grilled cheese sales and a couple of Halloweekend productions. You might remember the iconic performances of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, or the creepy, carnival-themed haunted house (both entirely student-run!). These events raised money for the organization Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and will contribute to the benefit’s grand total on closing night.
After a busy fall semester of fundraising, these students take it home at the semester’s close with the biggest and best event yet: the benefit itself. All tickets, donations, bake sale purchases and silent auction bidding proceeds are donated directly to Broadway Cares.
Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS (BC/EFA) is a grantmaking and fundraising organization that helps people across the country suffering from critical health conditions, including but not limited to HIV and AIDS. Just last year, BC/EFA raised over 17 million dollars, all of which was donated to the HIV/AIDS Initiative, Addiction and Recovery Services, Food Service Meals, Delivery Programs and more. Last year’s WCU AIDS Benefit total contributed an impressive $16,000 to that 17 million.
This year, students are ambitiously aiming to beat last year’s total and need all the help they can get! You can catch the show this Friday, Dec. 8 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 9 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 10 at 2 p.m. Buy your tickets online at wcupatix.com, then head to the Main Stage at E.O. Bull Center for the Arts on your select date. Sit back and enjoy “A Night On Broadway,” with ensemble performances like “On Broadway” from “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical,” or the impressive, seven-minute peace and love finale, “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In” from “Hair.”
Everybody loves a little competition. The most thrilling part of the night is the Showtune Showdown at the end of Act One. How does it work? The ensemble is split into two teams that compete head-to-head for the audience’s vote. This year, “Mary Poppins’” “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” will face off against “Born to Hand Jive” from “Grease.” Be sure to vote for your favorite performance by dropping a dollar or two (or 100!) in the performers’ red buckets at intermission. Enjoy Act Two complete with more flashy musical numbers and performances from special guests like High Street Harmonix, Top Drawer Swing and more.
There’s more than meets the eye, though — the AIDS Benefit is not just an enjoyable fundraising event, it’s also an educational experience. Because HIV/AIDS is most commonly spread through unprotected sex, people tend to discriminate against or shame those suffering from the virus. So, hosting a benefit that supports individuals fighting HIV/AIDS spreads awareness and helps break the stigma.
This year’s AIDS Benefit director, senior Emily Wiest, has been a part of the AIDS Benefit since her freshman year in 2020 when the show was virtual.
“We always start off the benefit by showing the audience a video from BC/EFA that explains the organization and the cause,” Wiest said. “In between musical numbers, the directing team puts out the facts that we have learned about HIV/AIDS throughout the process.” Audiences will leave knowing exactly how their $12 ticket is making a difference.
Wiest urges students to see the show because “Staff and cast have worked really hard to put this on.” She said, “We want people to come and feel inspired to go out and break the stigma themselves. Not only will you see some cool, student-run performances, but you will also be able to leave feeling like you can go out and have the knowledge and drive to break the stigma.”
Take it from Emily. Get out this weekend for a fun night of theater, all while supporting a wonderful cause.
Erin McGinniss is a fourth-year English major with a minor in American Sign Language. email@example.com