Whoopi Goldberg to Host QUILT Benefit; Anthony Rapp, Nikki M. James, et al. to Perform


Created stitch by loving stitch, The AIDS Memorial Quilt remains an uplifting symbol of hope and a stirring memorial to lives cut short from the ongoing disease, which has become a major staple of our generation. On the heels of World AIDS Day, a new star-studded theatrical gala will commemorate the 30th Anniversary of the HIV/AIDS crisis, and the 25th Anniversary of The NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt.

The unprecedented event, QUILT - A Musical Celebration and Reflection on 30 Years, will feature a series of monologues and ballads from the 1990s work "QUILT - A Musical Celebration," and will be performed by various luminaries from stage and screen at Lincoln Center's prestigious Avery Fisher Hall on November 28, 2011. This will be the first time "QUILT" has been performed in New York City by a high-profile production cast and crew. A private dinner will follow the performance.

The fund-raiser will benefit a consortium of six established not-for-profit organizations dedicated to HIV/AIDS education, health, and the arts. They are: Friends In Deed, God's Love We Deliver, Hispanic Federation, International AIDS Prevention Initiative, The NAMES Project Foundation and Rosie O'Donnell's Rosie's Theater Kids.

Additionally, there will be a significant viewing of rare NYC-focused portions of The Quilt at Lincoln Center. Each panel on display will have been made by, and or for New York City artists in the fields of theater, music and fashion. To date, The Quilt incorporates approximately 47,000 total individual panels and is still growing quickly despite medical advancements.

"Three decades after the start of the epidemic, many have forgotten that there is still no cure for AIDS," said Lillian Rodriguez Lopez, president of the Hispanic Federation. "It is important to remind everyone, especially our Latino youth most at risk for infection, that although we have made tremendous progress advancing the quality of life of people living with HIV/AIDS, complacency is our worst enemy."

Currently, an eclectic VIP cast and creative team are coming together for the special event. The show will feature staging by David Esbjornson (who directed the world premiere of ANGELS IN AMERICA: A GAY FANTASIA ON NATIONAL THEMES and the first New York revival of Larry Kramer's THE NORMAL HEART), lighting by Paul Miller (Broadway's LEGALLY BLONDE and FRESHLY SQUEEZED) and a performance from members of the Tony-award winning cast of THE BOOK OF MORMON, the hit Broadway musical from Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone.

Also scheduled to perform: Nikki M. James (THE BOOK OF MORMON); Constantine Maroulis (Broadway's hit musical and New Line Cinema's upcoming film ROCK OF AGES); Daphne Rubin-Vega (Broadway's RENT as "Mimi Marquez"); Anthony Rapp (Broadway's and Columbia Pictures' RENT as "Mark Cohen"); playwright/actress Heather Raffo (9 PARTS OF DESIRE); Helen Hayes Award-winner Steven Cupo (SWEENEY TODD at the Kennedy Center with Brian Stokes Mitchell and Christine Baranski). More stars to be confirmed within coming days.

"Now seems like the absolute perfect moment to remount the poignant and powerful Quilt - A Musical Celebration in New York, and to share with a new generation this story of creativity in crisis, of enduring love and loss, and of the power we have collectively to change the world," said Julie Rhoad, president & CEO of The NAMES Project Foundation/AIDS Memorial Quilt. "The Quilt tells the story of life in the age of AIDS with fabric, with baby blankets, love letters, photographs and now how exciting that another medium -- that of theater - will bring all of its power to the story of The Quilt."

Whoopi Goldberg - Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony-award winning actress, comedienne, and co-host of ABC's THE VIEW - is participating in the event's host committee. Regan Hofmann, editor-in-chief of POZ magazine, and esteemed playwright Tony Kushner - notable for winning the Pulitzer Prize, Emmy, Tony, Obie, and an Oscar-nominated writer - are co-chairing the event. Kushner's credits include ANGELS IN AMERICA: A GAY FANTASIA ON NATIONAL THEMES, Broadway's CAROLINE OR CHANGE, and Universal's Oscar-nominated film MUNICH. Jesse Vargas (GLORY DAYS, PEEP SHOW, XANADU) will creatively lead music directions and orchestrations, and not-for-profit fundraising leader Faisal Al-Juburi will helm the producing team.

Jim Morgan, Michael Stockler, Merle Hubbard and John Schak originally wrote QUILT nearly 20 years ago. The show was originally produced by the University of Maryland in conjunction with The Smithsonian Institution's Museum of Natural History, with a puppet show conceived with Lynnie Raybuck.

QUILT is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI). All authorized performance materials are also supplied by MTI, 421 West 54th St., New York, NY 10019. Phone: 212-541-4684 ; Fax: 212-397-4684; www.MTIShows.com.

For further information, or to purchase a gala package, please visit www.AIDSnyc.com. Performance-only tickets start at $50, and are available online at www.LincolnCenter.org; or by phone at 212-721-6500 ; or at the Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center Box Office, 10 Lincoln Center Plaza, Broadway at 65th Street.

Thirty years after the virus devastated New York City, swept the nation, and forever changed the world, a new threat looms, that of complacency. HIV/AIDS is a problem that has yet to be overcome, and as the harrowing days of the early 1980s slip further from the public conscience and strides are made in treatment, there is the widespread and dangerous misconception that the virus no longer serves as cause for concern. Through the use of the performing and visual arts, this event will honor all those who have been lost senselessly due to this vicious disease, celebrate those who have championed the afflicted, and mark a renewed commitment to ending this pandemic that has robbed us of too many bright futures.

Photo Credit: Walter McBride/WM Photos

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