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.