“West Side Story” the musical has taken over San Francisco, and its stars have as well! Right now “West Side Story” is running at the Orpheum Theatre through Nov. 28th. As a show that is now fifty years old, “West Side Story” holds just as much charm and appeal for today’s audiences. The cast members all have extensive Broadway, regional and film credits. Can these star-crossed lovers come together in a city of torn relations? Fortunately for the city of San Francisco, cast members will be performing all their favorite music selections at the Marines Memorial Theatre, 609 Sutter Street, in support of the Richmond/Ermet AIDS Foundation (REAF). They perform Nov. 15th at 7:30 p.m. From the voice of Kyle Harris as Tony to the beautiful soprano of Ali Ewoldt as Maria, the night should prove to be very successful in benefiting the REAF AIDS organization.
With REAF’s “One Night Only” series of shows, they have collected over two million dollars to benefit thirty-three AIDS service agencies over a span of sixteen years. Volunteers make this happen by hosting shows that feature the touring musical in San Francisco at the time. Often, a special guest hosts the benefit every year.
This special “One Night Only” benefit concert is proud of their successful hosts: Cabaret star, Wesla Whitfield, who has performed at Carnegie Hall five times, and Erich Bergen, who played Bob Gaudio in the touring cast of Jersey Boys. Foghorn spoke to Whitfield and Bergen on their involvement with the “One Night Only” AIDS benefit show and their remarkable careers.
“I know of so many people. In the early eighties many of my friends began dying of AIDS. They need help. That’s why this benefit event is so important to me,” began Whitfield. Bergen’s experiences were along the same lines,“I lost a good friend to AIDS. It impacts a lot of people. I was contacted by REAF and told them I would love to take part.” At the event, Bergen will be singing from the newest show he has been cast in–”Magic Castle”. Whitfield was asked to sing a Leonard Bernstein song, who just so happened to write the music for “West Side Story”.
The purpose of bringing together artists is to make an opportunity for gathering crowds, in hopes of raising money for a large contribution to fight AIDS. In fact, Bergen said it’s his “favorite part about these things. I don’t know anyone on this tour, so I love how we can all come together for a cause and put together our tricks.” Whitfield agreed, “It’s fun to meet other performers that are passionate about the same causes.”
Of advocacy work, Bergen said, “There’s nothing more important in the world. Volunteer your time. Make people understand those major problems. Donate time and words.” Of theatre work, Whitfield said, “Learn as much as you can and make friends—from the doorman to the producer. Besides, everything is more fun when they are your friends.” You won’t want to miss this special occasion bringing such talented performers together to promote one cause.
Editor-in-Chief: Heather Spellacy
Chief Copy-Editor: Burke McSwain
Scene: Tamar Kuyumjian