North Carolina performances of David Dillon's Party, the play about gay friendships and naked party games, garnered $32,000 for the Crape Myrtle Festival over three special performances July 26-29.
David Dillon told Playbill On-Line the cast, performing a "reunion" staging for the 2001 Crape Myrtle Festival in Raleigh, NC, included four actors involved in the first production of the show in Chicago in 1992 — Dillon (as gay priest, Ray), Vince Gatton, who also did the New York and Los Angeles productions, Sal Iacopelli and Nic Arnzen (who acted in earlier productions but directed the NC staging). Original New York cast member David Pevsner and cast members from Boston, Toronto and Raleigh were also part of the production.
"It was a wonderful reunion for all of us and we dedicated the production to the memory of two original Chicago cast members who have since passed away — Ted Bales and Robb Williams," Dillon told Playbill On Line.
The money was the single largest amount ever raised for an event in the festival's 21-year history, allowing the foundation to surpass fundraising goals for the year, Dillon said. The Crape Myrtle Festival originated 21 years ago as a small backyard get together in Chapel Hill, NC. More than a decade ago it broadened its focus to respond to the HIV/AIDS health crisis. Crape Myrtle Festival was then incorporated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and has since become one of North Carolina's premiere all volunteer fundraising non-profits. It has raised over $750,000 for local service agencies that care for children, women and men living with HIV/AIDS.
The playwright donated his royalties and the actors donated their time and performances to support the Crape Myrtle Festival. All proceeds from the production went directly to CMF. The Raleigh company also included Brian Swasey of the Boston cast as Brian, Dennis Cutts of the Toronto cast as Philip and Andrew Sync from Raleigh as Andy. Dillon appeared as Kevin for 10 months of the Chicago run and subsequently performed the role of Ray at various times in New York and San Francisco as well as in the 2000 Chicago revival and a recent sold out run in San Diego.
Nic Arnzen, who originated the role of Peter in the original Chicago company directed the recent San Diego production directed the CMF production.
Dillon begins rehearsals in Los Angeles for a new touring company of Party, in which he'll play Ray. Cities include San Diego, New Orleans, Atlanta and Las Vegas. The yearlong tour then will eventually head to Amsterdam. Randy Brenner directs. A film version of the play is also in the works.
— By Kenneth Jones