Tuesday, November 27, 2012

"Girls Nite Out Benefit for Alex's Lemonade Stand" by Angie Fiedler

This article is from the October 2012 issue of KC Stage

When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade - or so the saying goes. And that's exactly the mindset of Cindy Devine, the current president of Girls Nite Out-4-Breast Cancer. "We basically just started out as friends talking," Devine says of the ten committee members who make up the group, "and doing the walk for Susan G. Komen."

Started in 2009, the committee is made up of employees who all work at the Federal Reserve Bank. "We were making cards for the troops," Devine says, "and one of our others said, 'I did this thing called Bunco for Boobies, and I raised $500.' And I thought, 'Wow - that's a lot of money.' We were making $10 here, $15 there, so $500 sounded like an astronomical sum. So, we asked her what she did, and that's when we started doing the fundraising."

Devine, a breast cancer survivor herself, continues, "We thought, 'Hmmm - I think we could do this.' And I thought, 'Even if they don't want to, I'm going to try it on my own.' Oh, my God, there is no way I could've done that on my own, because there are so many details."

Devine has another reason to be glad there's a group helping her. "The good thing about having ten people is what one person doesn't think of, the other person does. And we learn by our mistakes and by our successes. We didn't have a rulebook, we didn't have anybody tell us how to do it."

The fundraisers (usually in March or April) are typically geared toward local groups, originally for Cancer Action (a place Devine herself had received help from), and now Power of Pink.

There's some contention as to who exactly came up with the idea to do a second fundraiser in October. Devine fully puts the origin on Donna Kennedy, the coordinator of the event; while Kennedy insists it was Devine. They both, however, agree that they had seen Alex's Lemonade Stand on TV, and thought this foundation, dedicated to curing childhood cancer, would be a good cause for a new fundraiser.

Kennedy knew that her connections to MoACT and City Theatre of Independence would help her find actors and sponsors to help put on a production as a fundraiser, and first came up with doing A.R. Gurney's Love Letters because of those connections.

"The reason I chose Love Letters," Kennedy says, "I wanted to do something that wouldn't put all the stress on people, because I'm going to ask them to volunteer. I go to a lot of the stuff for the Missouri Association of Community Theatres, and I've seen a lot of plays, and this author says it doesn't take a lot of time to do this play. Because I already knew these really good quality actors and actresses I've worked with through City Theatre, I thought this would be a really good one to do."

The event expanded beyond Love Letters (with Vickie Smithson and Kurt Moegle), and now also includes the monologue "French Fries" from Jane Martin's Talking With ... (performed by Patti Shockley). "The little girl of Alex's Lemonade Stand," Kennedy says, "one of her favorite foods is French fries. I remember seeing this monologue at one of the festivals, and to me it was just hilarious. I thought {Love Letters} would be something good to start out with, because it's more of a drama and it has a little bit of a story to it that's sort of sad, but then {"French Fries"} would bring people up." Then, the event will end with music from Betsy Dierker and Jeff Drysdale, giving an approximate running time of a little over two hours.

The event will also have a silent auction, as well as concessions (all lemon-related, of course). And Kennedy keeps the theme going, calling her actors The Lemon Drop Players.

"If this one turns out and it's successful," Devine says, "then the girls will maybe say, 'You know what, let's try it and do it again for the same group.' It just started out very casually, and we just will keep doing it until someone tells us to stop."

The Benefit for Girls Nite Out-4-Breast Cancer will start at 2 pm on October 6 at Just Off Broadway, and tickets are $15. For more information about the benefit or about Girls Nite Out, visit https://sites.google.com/site/girlsniteout4bc or call (816) 881-2371.

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