In Memory of Friends...and in Support of Those Living with AIDS
The 1980s was a decade when AIDS hit our community at large and our chorus community. Many volunteer organizations were created to help people deal with all the different aspects of this disease. One of these was the AIDS Emergency Fund. The AEF was established in 1982 and provides immediate financial assistance to people with AIDS and disabling ARC. The idea for the concert production "In Memory of Friends ... and in Support of Those Living with AIDS" to raise funds for AEF came from the minds and hearts of Gary Menger who were a concert producers and good friends of LGCSF.
The concert was at the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre on Thursday, April 9, 1987. In the Welcome page in the program, producer Gary Menger wrote in part "Everyone in this concert and everyone involved in the technical or promotional aspects of making it happen are willing volunteers because we've all lost people we loved to AIDS. This evening is offered in memory of those people. The best way we know to honor the memory of friends no longer with us is to contribute in whatever way we can toward the ease and comfort of those now living with AIDS." Then he goes on to thank all of the people, musicians and businesses who helped bring this concert to life.
LGCSF started the show with "Corner of the Sky" from "Pippin" and Menage followed with "The Greatest Love of All." The other performers in the show were local cabaret entertainers and singers such as the wonderful Weslia Whitfield, Tom Anderson, Pamela Brooks, John Lusk, and Tom Vetrano. In the middle of Act I LGCSF also sang "The Way We Were." This was followed by the San Francisco Tap Troupe and Gail Wilson performing "You and the Night and the Music." Men About Town from SFGMC performed "Mood Indigo/ Puttin' on the Ritz." The first act closed with Pamela Brooks and Company singing "San Francisco."
In the second act, the SF Gay Freedom Marching Band performed a medley from "West Side Story" and this was followed by the Vocal Minority with a medley from "The Wiz" and "The Wizard of Oz" ("Somewhere Over the Rainbow"). The entire company joined together to end the evening with "If We Only Have Love/Not a Day Goes By." This finale was arranged and conducted by Wayne Love.
On October 9, 1988, a second "In Memory of Friends" concert was held again at the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre. It was produced again by Gary Menger along with his producing partner Don Johnson. The executive producers of the show were Jerry Coletti and Pat Montclaire of the Galleon restaurant. They provided all the initial funds required, agreed to cover stipends for all the participating non-profit performing groups, paid for much of the advertising, gave us free use of their meeting rooms and sent lunch to the entire company the day of dress rehearsal and provided a cast buffet after the show.
This show was a little different from the first one in that it was a "book show" meaning that members of the cast played parts and there was a story line. Gary and Don wrote in the program "We agreed to team up again for this project, and agreed on the new form it would take. Kind friends told us it was impossible to create a "book show," borrow music from other shows to fit our intent, have relatively few rehearsals, and get the whole thing right in just a couple months. We saw that the only to prove them wrong was to forge ahead and do it ... we hope you'll be pleased with the result."
Act 1 was titled "Summer, Last Year." The cast included two members of LGCSF who had gone on to be cabaret performers, Scott Johnston and Morgen Aiken. Jose Sarria, the first Empress of San Francisco, was also part of the cast. One of the scenes was set in the garden behind Jose's Upper Market fourplex. Some of the music performed was "Take Me to the World," LGCSF sang "It's a Most Unusual Day." Other songs were "Beautiful Girls," "I'm Glad I'm Not Young Anymore," and "Wherever He Ain't" at the grand opening of Jose's New "Black Cat" bar. The Band, Twirling Corps and Flag Corps performed "Before the Parade Passes By" as part of the Gay Freedom Day Parade ending the first act.
The chorus and Scott sang "Another Hundred People" and "Lonely Town" to open the second act. One of the highlights of Act 2 was "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables" and the finale "Today/Tomorrow/Yesterday."
This show raised $32,000 for the AIDS Emergency Fund and Allen White wrote a glowing review of the concert in the Bay Area Reporter. As I said at the start this decade saw many fundraisers and benefits. One of these was for the San Francisco Band Foundation called "You and the Night and the Music" held on August 24, 1988 at the Venetian Room in the Fairmont Hotel. Our wonderful jazz octet, Menage, performed in this show to represent LGCSF. Just so you all know, the Venetian Room was the premier venue for all the jazz singers and players to play in San Francisco.
Another fundraiser in 1988 was "22 on the Red," a night of gambling and entertainment, which was presented at Pier Two at the Fort Mason Center. This was the annual fundraiser for the Golden Gate Business Association.
That's it for this week. I included photos of advertising for the first In Memory of Friends as well as program covers of the various events listed and photos of the presentation of the $32,000 to the AEF and LGCSF onstage in the second show. Take care of yourselves as you stay at home and remember to wash your hands. I love you all and miss singing with you more than I can say. Not quite sure what I will be writing about next week as I continue going through the archives.
Always in harmony, Michael Lucero