Casts of Wicked, Jersey Boys Respond to Prop 8 With Benefit Cabaret

By Jenny Berg January 14, 2009, 4:14 PM EST

Broadway-themed silent auction items included a basket filled with Jersey Boys memorabilia.

Despite a blizzard warning, approximately 350 guests headed to Park West on Monday night for a two-act cabaret featuring cast members of the Second City and Broadway in Chicago shows Wicked, Grease, and Jersey Boys. The event, titled “Defying Inequality,” raised funds for four gay-rights organizations through ticket sales and live and silent auctions.

Charlie Hagerty, a member of the Chicago Wicked ensemble, directed the cabaret and worked with his fellow cast members to plan the fund-raiser. Hagerty said that the passing of Proposition 8 was the event's “biggest motivator ... The theater community saw that something had to be said, so we spoke up by doing what we do best—putting on a show.” Monday night's performance included improvised skits, show tunes, and choreographed pop-song performances.

To solicit donations for the evening's auctions, Hagerty and his fellow planners turned to businesses—such as Theater-District restaurants—that “have a relationship with Broadway in Chicago,” he said. ”We got donations from places we interact with every day.” Local florists, dance and theater companies and The Chicago Sun-Times also contributed auction items.

To market the event, Hagerty said that the planning crew used social networking Web sites such as Facebook, and also relied on the evening's beneficiaries to notify their supporters. But “a lot of [the publicity] came from simple word of mouth," he said. The group expects to know how much the event raised later in the week.

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