Stages St. Louis Holds Record Gala

by Jacob Coakley

Stages St. Louis raised more than $375,000 at hteir annual Applause! gala. The event was hosted by Stages stars Kari Ely and Steve Isom.

STAGES ST. LOUIS RAISES OVER $375,000 AT ANNUAL APPLAUSE GALA

ST. LOUIS - On Friday, November 14, 2014 STAGES St. Louis hosted the thirteenth annual APPLAUSE! Gala at the Ritz-Carlton, a benefit to support the organization's Education and Artistic Programs. APPLAUSE! 2014 raised a record amount of over $375,000. This year's numbers come on the heels of another record-breaking season, which generated nearly $3 million in ticket sales, over a $1 million increase over the previous year and out-grossing any season in STAGES' 28-year history. The event was hosted by STAGES stars Kari Ely and Steve Isom. Lynne Turley served as event Chair.

Guests were treated to entertainment by Broadway performer and St. Louis native Lisa Rothauser and Grammy®-nominated producer and songwriter Tor Hyams, with special guest Executive Producer Jack Lane. The evening featured Broadway standards including songs from STAGES upcoming 2015 productions of Smokey Joe's Café and Anything Goes.  The evening also featured the teen a cappella sensation Team|STAGES joined by Triple Threats, STAGES Performing Arts Academy's advanced musical theatre performing group, with special guest Artistic Director Michael Hamilton and Troupe Broadway.

2014 marks the 10th Anniversary of the STAGES Performing Arts Academy providing Musical Theatre education to students throughout the St. Louis region. Annually, Academy programs reach over 3,200 students. Since its inception, STAGES Urban Arts Initiative has conducted more than 190 outreach programs for free or at a reduced cost, to over 3,560 underserved students. Access the Arts, the only program of its kind in the St. Louis area, now serves more than 450 students with physical, cognitive, and developmental challenges annually allowing them to participate fully in the performing arts. Additional programs award 800 Scout badges, engage 1,000 parents/guardians and children via Stories@STAGES, and entertain thousands at performances by Team|STAGES. At the Kent Center in Chesterfield, the Academy offers 125 classes annually, never turning away a qualifying student. Sponsorship monies raised from the APPLAUSE! Gala helps to support all of these wonderful and vital education and artistic programs.

The 2014 APPLAUSE! Gala was attended by over 400 supporters, notable attendees included:
Don & Marilyn Ainsworth
John & Crystal Beuerlein
Van & Marion Black
Martha Durbin
Dean & Lisa Erhardt
Judith Gall
Michael & Elizabeth Gibbons
Wendy Henry
Bob & Carol Jones
Myles & Elaine Kelly
Judy & Jerry Kent
Nancy Kranzberg
Ann Liberman
Merry & Jim Mosbacher
Bob & Louise Nation
Lisa & Greg Nichols
Cindy Prost
Kitty Ratcliffe
Gary & Diana Rich
Robert & Celeste Roberson
Terry & Alison Roberts
Ruth Saphian & Omer Kinran
Dan & Sylvan Schulz
Pat & Peggy Sly
Wayne & Margaret Smith
Lynne & Jim Turley
Joyce Wood
Leisa Zigman

Executive Producer Jack Lane stated "2014 has truly been an extraordinary year for STAGES. We experienced record sales with our mainstage productions, added a new theatre space, The Playhouse at Westport Plaza, where Always... Patsy Cline enjoyed a 6 month run, and was able to give back to underserved communities through our Academy's outreach program. We're honored to have celebrated our recent accomplishments at the Applause Gala with our incredible family of supporters, and we're truly grateful for their continued commitment to helping us fulfill our mission of advancing the art form or Musical Theatre." 

STAGES St. Louis' 29th Mainstage Season will include the Grammy award-winning sensation SMOKEY JOE'S CAFÉ, a rousing homage to classic rock 'n' roll, and the celebrated song catalog of Leiber and Stoller.  The season continues with the tap happy Broadway classic ANYTHING GOES, a chic and sophisticated voyage across the Atlantic featuring the witty and romantic songs of Cole Porter.  One of Broadway's recent hits, THE FULL MONTY, caps off the season with its powerful message of family, friendship, and community.  The fun begins May 29 and continues through October 4, 2015.  In addition, the 2015 season Theatre for Young Audiences production will feature Disney's THE ARISTOCATS, in June.

STAGES St. Louis is the region's foremost not-for-profit company committed to preserving and advancing the art form of Musical Theatre through excellence in performance and education. In 2014, STAGES celebrated its 28th year of producing Broadway-quality theatre, presenting more than 250 performances from April through October to more than 75,000 patrons.

STAGES opened in 1987 with a budget of $50,000 and a part-time seasonal staff of eight. Today, the company employs a full-time staff of more than 30 overseeing a budget of over $4 million. During the performance season, an additional 150 actors and crew members bring the productions to life.  To date, STAGES professionals have produced 94 musicals, with over 2,900 performances, playing to over 900,000 patrons.