Philadelphia Theatre Company Brings Back Inventive Fundraiser Friday May 10

By: Apr. 26, 2019
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Philadelphia Theatre Company returns to the fun gala format it created last season. Instead of standard speeches and silent auctions, the Suzanne Roberts Theatre will become the home of Play Brawl!, the PTC fundraiser that showcases prominent local business leaders and media figures living out their acting dreams alongside professional actors on the PTC stage. Audience members can then vote with their tax-free donations through a mobile bidding app to help declare a winner. In the vein of Dancing with the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance, this fun event takes the stage Friday, May 10 at 6 p.m at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre (480 S. Broad Street). Tickets and sponsorships for the event start at $150 and are available online at or by calling 215-985-1400 x 117.

As PTC's most important fundraising event, Play Brawl! features local celebrities and business leaders facing off on the stage of the Suzanne Roberts Theatre. This friendly competition will raise funds to benefit Philadelphia Theatre Company's 2019-2020 45th Anniversary season of new plays. Contenders will team up with local professional actors to recreate iconic scenes from stage and screen. Viewers will recognize material from films like "Rocky," "Remember the Titans" and "When Harry Met Sally."

"Last year's event got such a great response, I think, because it was so different from your usual ballroom-type fundraiser. A lot of people also appreciated that the event highlights the kind of work we do on stage. Even more fun is seeing people you know from other walks of life putting themselves on the line to get in front of a crowd. It's not quite a dunk tank, but it's something that requires courage, or at least moxie," said Philadelphia Theatre Company Producing Artistic Director Paige Price.

She added, "We learned that we could not expect people to really memorize whole scenes, so we helped coach them and found creative places to put their scripts. Although this year's Contenders have really stepped it up and Ray came in fully memorized. He came to win! The other bonus was that our professional actors really had a good time working with and supporting our Contenders, helping them be the best they can be. The spirit of the event was very on point."

The 2019 Play Brawl! Contenders are:

  • Marcus Allen, CEO Big Brothers Big Sisters Independence Region

  • Marc Brownstein, President and CEO of The Brownstein Group

  • Ray Didinger, Author, Journalist, Broadcaster, and Emmy Award Winning Writer and Producer of NFL Films

  • Bill Golderer, President and CEO of United Way of Greater Philadelphia

  • Shaina Humphries, Anchor Fox 29 News

  • Carol Saline, Journalist, Broadcaster, Author, and PTC of Directors

  • Michael Smerconish, Sirius XM Radio Host, CNN Television Host, Columnist, Author

  • Joseph Watkins, White House Aide and MSNBC Political Commentator

  • David Yager, President and CEO of the University of the Arts

  • Joe Zarett, Founder Zarett Rehab and Fitness

Brio Bonn, FKA Raheem Brock, a Contender from the inaugural Play Brawl! will co-host the event with Philadelphia Theatre Company's Producing Artistic Director Paige Price. Local favorite Scott Greer will bring his professional acting chops to the event.

The evening begins with a cocktail and hors d' oeuvres reception. Then audiences will move into the theatre for a live auction featuring international travel and exclusive Broadway access, followed by the lively onstage competition. Throughout the competition, audiences can support their favorite competitors and scenes by donating through a mobile giving platform. The Contestant with the most tax-deductible votes will then be declared the 2019 Play Brawl Champion. The Play Brawl Trophy will be presented to the winner by 2018 Play Brawl Champ and PTC Board Chair David L. Cohen. Finally, the audience will celebrate with an after-party.

The evening will also feature a special tribute to Janet and Alan Widra for their longstanding and generous support and friendship to PTC.

"We sought people that had a certain status in the city, and who were also willing to play along and be game to get on stage. Many of the Contenders are also helping us fundraise, by bringing friends or by actually having their companies act as sponsors of the event. We also wanted to make sure we had people from different backgrounds and who had personalities that would be entertaining," said Price.

She finished, "Fundraising is hard. So if we can make it fun, we should endeavor to do that. I'm looking forward to a fun night, but we need it to be fruitful too. So bring your "A" game!"

Play Brawl! is supported by Comcast NBCUniversal, Rhonda & David L. Cohen, Ballard Spahr, LLP, Fox Rothschild, LLP, Cozen O'Connor, PNC, MIS Capital LLC, Tony La Russa, and Janet & Alan Widra.