The cast of Gypsy at Repertory Theatre of St. Louis appealed for money for Red Cross disaster relief following its Sept. 12 evening performance, and the pleas will continue through its run there to Oct. 5, according to a cast member.
Actress Joan Hess, who plays the title role in the musical, told Playbill On-Line that the Sept. 11 performance of the show was canceled following news of massive terrorist attacks on the United States, but, reluctantly, the company played matinee and evening shows Sept. 12. An appeal for money for disaster relief raised $1,214 from the audience. Hess said she contacted Playbill On-Line in the hope that her company's effort might we repeated by other companies in the U.S.
"We opened last Friday and were dark Tuesday night, along with probably most theatres in this country," Hess wrote in an e-mail. "Most of this cast lives in New York City, as do I. I know for me and many others in this cast, it was a very strange thing to be performing the day following Tuesday's unbelievable events. It seemed to me there were many more important things to be done at this time. Nonetheless, perform we did — and, to my amazement, to full and responsive houses. But, I personally felt that it was important that we acknowledge the national events and take the opportunity of so many people coming together — to do something to help."
The company decided on a post-curtain call audience-appeal for donations that would be sent to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund.
Repertory Theatre artistic director, Steven Woolf, and manging director Mark D. Bernstein were open to this, and an appeal went out after the evening performance Sept. 12. "It was an amazing success," Hess wrote. "I think all of the cast felt better taking the opportunity to take action. Many cast members volunteered to collect the donations in the lobby — and many suggested we continue this for our entire run." Although the theatre was not filled to capacity (it seats 760) the company collected $1,214 in one night.
"We will continue our appeals," Hess wrote, "and just wanted to pass on the idea to others..."
Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS is mulling the possibility of a money-raising effort similar to twice-yearly curtain appeals to help those affected by HIV/AIDS, a BC/EFA staffer told Playbill On-Line Sept. 13. Those appeals to help with HIV/AIDS relief are made in fall and spring at Broadway, Off-Broadway and touring houses, raising millions.
— By Kenneth Jones