Mrs. Brady Whips Up Some Money at S.T.A.G.E.

The Southland Theatre Artists Goodwill Event (S.T.A.G.E.) is one of the longest running HIV/AIDS fundraisers on the planet

I am still smiling thinking about S.T.A.G.E.’s big fundraising show the other night. It had everything—singing, dancing, fashion, theatre stories, and heart…lots of heart. The theme for the show (now in it’s 31st year!) was “To Broadway From Hollywood … With Love” and featured a birthday tribute to 100-year-old Patricia Morison who even sang to everyone from her perch onstage. The performers—everyone from Robert Morse to Carole Cook—took to the Saban Theatre stage with gusto—you can hear the belters from the last row of the huge theatre—pros. It is a HIV/AIDS fundraiser that sweats the details even collecting sundries by the box office for AIDS Project Los Angeles.

The image, however, I cannot shake is Florence Henderson (ahem, Mrs. Brady) in her bondage gear (whip included) shaking her money-maker while performing “When You’re Good to Mama” from Chicago—all in the name of raising funds for APLA. It was a riot. Then, bawdy Carole Cook got the entire theatre laughing only to get them sniffling with a touching story about the late Ethel Merman. Susan Claassen (“A Conversation with Edith Head”) narrated a segment that featured original costumes from classic films (the original gown Bette Davis wore in “All About Eve”!) and Broadway shows on models like former Olympian Greg Louganis and actress Haviland Stillwell. David Engel did spot on dance duet to “Singing in the Rain” with Gene Kelly magically dancing the movie version behind him.

The next time there’s a S.T.A.G.E. benefit, do yourself a favor and ante up. It’s a show/fundraiser that features the hearts (and impressive lungs) of scads of legendary performers.