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Interview: WICKED's Lauren Haughton Talks DON'T STOP BELIEVIN' BENEFIT for BC/EFA and the Actors Fund

The Actors' Fund of Canada and members of the National Touring Companies of WICKED and THE BOOK OF MORMON will host DON'T STOP BELIEVIN', an evening of song and dance, at the Panasonic Theatre on Monday, October 27. The performance starts at 8:00 PM with the VIP Plus reception beginning at 6:30 PM. The Panasonic Theatre is located at 651 Yonge Street, Toronto. Net proceeds will benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS (BC/EFA) and the Actors' Fund of Canada.

BroadwayWorld's Alan Henry had a chance to chat with WICKED swing and Nessarose understudy Lauren Haughton, who is producing the upcoming benefit.

Alan: How did Don't Stop Believin' come about?

Lauren: Last January our company manager at Wicked, Kevin Beebee, left our show to company manage The Book of Mormon. We realized both companies would be in Toronto at the same time and wouldn't it be fun if...well here we are doing: "Don't Stop Believin"! It's a small world because not only the company manager, but production stage manager (Kim Fisk), and music director (Justin Mendoza) from The Book of Mormon have also been a part of Wicked in the past. Therefore knowing the talent involved in both shows they were able to pick material for the evening that would make both casts shine. We have all worked together over the past few months to create the show.

Alan: What can audiences expect to see/hear at the concert?

Lauren: It is truly an evening of entertainment. We have some Sinatra, some Liza, we go from Barbershop quartet to Queen and Journey. My favorite number is "Joyful, Joyful". We are doing the Sister Act 2 version and with both casts we have close to 30 people onstage. its going to be a powerful number. I had tears in my eyes at rehearsal today.

Almost everyone in both casts is involved in one way or another. Kara Lindsay (Glinda) is singing "Up The Ladder" from "Woman on the Verge..." with Bridie Carroll (Shenshen) and Lindsay Carothers (Phanee). Gavin Creel (Elder Price) will be singing "Bridge Over Troubled Water" with Laurel Harris (Elphaba). Ron Bohmer (Price's Dad) is singing "That's Life" with female backup vocals by ladies from both casts. Likewise, Kathy Fitzgerald (Madame Morrible) is singing "Ring Them Bells" with some men from the Wicked ensemble and a few Mormons as well. Alyssa Fox (Elphaba Standby) is singing lead in "Raise The Roof" from "The Wild Party", one of our joint company production numbers. And it's not just the performers that are involved. Many of our musicians and crew are volunteering their time and talents to light, stage manage, and make the show sound good.

Alan: Can you tell me a little bit about the organizations the concert will benefit?

Lauren: Broadway Cares (BCEFA) an organization benefiting men, women, and children living with HIV or AIDS. Also the Phylis Newman Woman's Health Initiative which benefits woman suffering from Breast and Ovarian cancer. It is also benefiting The Actor's Fund of Canada here in Toronto, which provides emergency financial aid to assist workers in the entertainment industry that are recovering from an illness, injury or other circumstances causing severe economic and personal hardship.

Alan: What are some of the items available for silent auction?

Lauren: My favorite silent auction items are custom made, hand-painted Wicked and Book of Mormon TOMS shoes. We also have replica Ruby Slippers custom made by Wicked company member, Jay Reynolds Jr. They look just like Judy's! Our Live auction will include some once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to come backstage and possibly perform onstage at Wicked and/or The Book of Mormon.

Alan: This isn't your first time planning a benefit while with Wicked. Can you tell me about one of your past benefits? What motivates you to continue to do them?

Lauren: Producing benefits has become quite a passion of mine. I started in October of 2012 in Baltimore, MD and have gone on to do them in: St.Louis, Orlando, Milwaukee, Cleveland, San Antonio, and Spokane. In-house at Wicked I produce them alongside Ryan Jackson and Justin Wirick. They usually take care of publicity, auction items, ticket sales, etc... and I handle the artistic part of the show. We make a great team! I believe all three of us have a friend or family member that has suffered from HIV, AIDS, Breast or Ovarian Cancer, so using our talents to do something good and give back is the least we can do.

Alan: What are you most looking forward to about the benefit?

Lauren: Wicked and The Book of Mormon are two of the hottest tickets in Toronto right now. Therefore both shows attract some of the most diverse and dynamic of talents. "Don't' Stop Believein" showcases those talents. I cannot wait for the cast, band, lights, sound, and crew to all come together on October 27th at the Panasonic Theatre.

Alan: How are you managing to prepare the benefit while still doing 8 performances of Wicked each week?

Lauren: I'm not going to lie, I'm pretty exhausted. I was passing flyers out for the benefit in the lobby the other day to try to get the word out and my stage manager had to hunt me down minutes before the show started to put me on for an ensemble member that had an emergency. Performing a show while producing a show is a lot of work!

WICKED has returned to Toronto's Ed Mirvish Theatre now through November 2. Tickets are available in person at the Ed Mirvish Theatre Box Office at 244 Victoria Street, or online at www.mirvish.com.

THE BOOK OF MORMON has returned to Toronto's Princess of Wales Theatre now through November 30. Tickets are available in person at the The Princess of Wales Box Office at 300 King Street West, or online at www.mirvish.com.

DON'T STOP BELIEVIN' is part of an ongoing series of performances by the touring companies to support charitable causes. Collectively, both tours have raised over $3.5 million in donations for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and local AIDS service organizations all over North America. Produced by company members, the evening is an opportunity for them to step out of their roles in the musicals and kick up their heels performing some of their favourite non- show related material.

VIP Plus admission is $250, which includes a pre-show reception with cast members, preferred seating, professional photograph with cast members, refreshments and WICKED and THE BOOK OF MORMON merchandise. VIP admission tickets are available for $125, which includes preferred seating and WICKED and THE BOOK OF MORMON merchandise. Reserved seats are also available for $55. All proceeds benefit BC/EFA and Actors' Fund of Canada. Tickets are available online at Mirvish.com or by calling 1-800-461-3333. Special thanks to Mirvish Productions and all sponsors.

About Lauren: Broadway: Wicked. Off-Broadway: Fools In Love. Regional Favorites: Sammy w/ Leslie Bricusse (Old Globe Theatre), Turn of the Century w/ Tommy Tune & Jeff Daniels (Goodman Theatre), Hans Christian Anderson w/ Maury Yeston (Maine State Music Theatre), Lola in Damn Yankees (Arizona Broadway Theatre), Texas in Cabaret (Stages St.Louis), Irene in Crazy For You (Beef & Boards), Bitelle in La Cage Aux Folles (Merry-Go-Round Playhouse), West Side Story & Amadeus (Syracuse Stage) B.F.A.: Musical Theatre, Syracuse University.

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From This Author - Alan Henry

A longtime theatre fan, Alan Henry has been with BroadwayWorld since 2012 and currently resides in NYC.

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