Archived entries for AIDS

Carol Wins! (

Carol CookCarole Cook performs at the 31st Annual S.T.A.G.E. Aids Benefit (Photo: Chris Kane)

Carole Wins!

By Ken Werther

It all began on a Monday night in October 1984, and I was there. The newly formed Southland Theatre Artists Goodwill Event (S.T.A.G.E.) presented An Evening of Leonard Bernstein at the historic Variety Arts Theatre in downtown LA. The admission price — a $10 donation or groceries for the fledgling food bank. A previously unknown disease had reared its ugly head. AIDS was unknown. Mysterious. Deadly. Something had to be done.

Now the longest-running annual HIV/AIDS fundraiser in the world, S.T.A.G.E. celebrates its 31st birthday on May 9 with To Broadway, From Hollywood With Love at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills. Focusing on songs from Broadway shows that began as Hollywood feature films, the evening will include a costume cavalcade showcasing original wardrobe from classic Broadway productions.

Through the years, the best of the best in musical composers and lyricists have been honored and a veritable who’s who of musical performers have participated. Directed by David Galligan for the 31st year in a row and with musical direction by Brad Ellis, the evening will feature performances by a veritable who’s who of musical performers, all donating their time and talents. The inimitable Carole Cook will perform for the 31st year. I have attended 30 out of 31 shows  — Carole has only beaten me by one!

S.T.A.G.E is happening on May 9 at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills. To purchase tickets and reserve seats, click here.

Announcing: 2Cents Theatre Company Will Share Percentage of Gross Sales for ‘RENT’ with Four HIV/AIDS Organizations



RENT 2Cents Theatre Group2Cents Theatre Group has announced that its production of Rent, Jonathan Larson’s legendary Broadway smash hit that is now celebrating its 20th anniversary, will benefit four different HIV/AIDS research and support organizations during its run. Beginning on May 30, a percentage of each weekend’s gross sales will be donated to AIDS Project Los Angeles, AIDS Research Alliance, Being Alive, and Alliance for Housing and Healing. Directed by Kristen Boulé, with musical direction by Morgan Fitch, Rent opens on Friday, May 24.

The weekend of May 30-June 2 will benefit AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA), which is dedicated to improving the lives of people affected by HIV disease, reducing the incidence of HIV infection, and advocating for fair and effective HIV-related public policy. For more information, visit The weekend of June 13­-16 belongs to AIDS Research Alliance, which exists to develop a cure for HIV/AIDS, medical strategies to prevent new infections, and better treatments for people living with HIV. The weekend of June 20­-23 goes to Being Alive, a peer-driven agency for people living with HIV/AIDS, specializing in supportive services, education, wellness, and self-empowerment. Finally, the weekend of June 27­-30 will benefit Alliance for Housing and Healing, which provides the basic necessities of life for men, women, children, and families living with HIV/AIDS through a safety net of essential housing and direct supportive services.

Based on Puccini’s La Boheme, Rent is a rock opera that tells the story of one year in the life of a group of bohemians struggling in East Village New York during the 1990s. The story centers around Mark and Roger, two roommates. While a former tragedy has made Roger numb to life, Mark tries to capture it through his attempts to make a film. In the year that follows, the group deals with love, loss, AIDS, and modern day life, all wrapped up in one powerful story.

Rent director Kristen Boulé is the founding artistic director of 2Cents Theatre Group currently in residence at the Hudson Theatres. She directs their 2nd Sundays Cabaret which appears monthly in the Hudson Café. Rent marks Boulé’s third show at the Hudson, following The Last Five Years in 2012, and her own Dreams in Variation in 2011. Boulé, a filmmaker from Baltimore, has worked on films including Eagle Eye, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, Body of Lies, Live Free or Die Hard, State of Play, and The Green Hornet, as well as several network television series.

The cast of Rent will feature (in alphabetical order) Dedrick Bonner, Kate Bowman, Amber Bracken, Ariel Brooker, Cole Chapman, Brian Gamble, Lauren Joy Goss, Jonathon Grant, Michael Levine, Juan Lozano, Alli Miller, Tyler Olshansky, Reagan Osborne, Deondray Randolph, and Jessika Rowe. Set design is by Anderson William, lighting design is by Donny Jackson, and costume design is by Abbey Hocker. Stage manager is Nick Acciani, and producers for 2Cents Theatre Group are Kristen Boulé, Cody Lyman, Kate Bowman, Tiffany Roberts, and Mike Abramson (producer of DOMA Theatre Company’s recent productions of Avenue Q and Dreamgirls, both designated as Ovation Recommended and LA Times Critics Choice).

Rent opens on Friday, May 24 at 8pm, with a red carpet gala beginning at 6:30, and will run Friday and Saturday at 8pm and Sunday at 7pm through June 30. General admission tickets for Rent are $34, with student and senior tickets available for $25 with valid ID. To purchase tickets online, go to, and to purchase by phone, call (323) 960-4410.

The Hudson Theatre is located at 6539 Santa Monica Boulevard, on Theatre Row in Hollywood, 90038. Parking is available across from the theatre on Hudson Avenue ($5).

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