The Stephen J. Falat Holiday Basket Project has always attracted celebrity spokespeople, among them Bernadette Peters (1999), Sarah Jessica Parker, Ruben Blades and last year, Helen Hunt (then in Twelfth Night). This fall, as a part of its fund-raising effort, the project has enlisted director-choreographer Susan Stroman as its emissary. Sponsored by Actors' Equity Association, the project delivers holiday baskets filled with donated clothing, books, CDs, candy, toiletries and other gifts to People With AIDS (PWAs) throughout the New York metropolitan area. Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS assists a committee that works throughout December to fill the baskets for more than 2,500 PWAs, living in more than 20 NYC hospitals and hospices.
Falat was an Equity member very active on AIDS committees. He died of AIDS and his life partner, Arn Gunderson, has taken over the Project, which started when Falat delivered four baskets to St. Luke's Hospital in 1986.
Stroman, currently at the height of her career, took home a Best Choreography Tony for Contact last season, plus three other nominations for directing and choreographing that show and The Music Man. This spring, Broadway will see her staging of the musical adaptation of Mel Brooks' classic film comedy, "The Producers."
Those interested in donating gifts or delivering baskets can call Actors' Equity, (212) 869-8530 and ask for information about the Project.
-- By David Lefkowitz