Lee Williams High School is Miscasting a Concert

Students play the perfect role in raising money for AIDS/HIV research

Lee Williams High School students work on the choreography for “Greased Lightning.”

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Lee Williams High School students work on the choreography for “Greased Lightning.”

Imagine your favorite play or movie. Now imagine everything just a little bit wrong. The men are women, the elders are teenagers, or the Caucasian is Latinx. With actors and actresses cast in the wrong roles, Lee Williams High School presents “Miscast Concert” Friday and Saturday.

“Miscast” is a fundraiser for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, a nonprofit organization which fundraises and writes grants for HIV/AIDS service organizations and awareness programs.

Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS helps men, women and children across the country and across the street receive lifesaving medications, health care, nutritious meals, counseling and emergency financial assistance.

All of the ticket sales and half of the concession sales will be donated to Broadway Cares.

Sarah Kucharek, LWHS drama teacher, said “Miscast” is a Broadway tradition that takes great actors and puts them in the wrong roles.

“Greased Lightning” performed by a group of young women, “Agony Reprise” by Kucharek and another staff member, and “I Feel Pretty” will be an ensemble of young men.

“They’re going to wear tutus, per their request,” Kucharek said.

The students are learning to give back to something, to give to charity, Kucharek said. Broadway cares has expanded beyond just HIV/AIDS research and care and have sent relief efforts to areas affected by hurricanes and natural disasters.

“(The students) wanted to be a part of something,” Kucharek said. “They’re just trying to be part of their community.”

Kucharek said “Miscast” is not a political statement, but rather an important part of theater culture and a fun production to put on. It was a student-led effort, and most of the performances will be student directed, chosen and choreographed.

“It’s supposed to be fun,” Kucharek said. “We, as actors, can put our theater skills to help. It’s an effort to give back and try something different.”

Tickets are $5. Performances begin at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday in the LWHS Auditorium.

Shai Weaver, a LWHS junior who was recently accepted into a Broadway internship, will be collecting donations during intermission after her performance of “Never Had a Friend Like Me” from Broadway’s Aladdin.

The global AIDS epidemic

There were approximately 36.7 million people worldwide living with HIV/AIDS at the end of 2016. Of these, 2.1 million were children (under the age of 15).

An estimated 1.8 million individuals worldwide became newly infected with HIV in 2016 – about 5,000 new infections per day.  This includes 160,000 children. Most of these children live in sub-Saharan Africa and were infected by their HIV-positive mothers during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding.

Currently only 60 percent of people with HIV know their status. The remaining 40 percent (over 14 million people) still need to access HIV testing services.

As of July 2017, 20.9 million people living with HIV were accessing antiretroviral therapy (ART) globally, up from 15.8 million in June 2015, 7.5 million in 2010, and less than one million in 2000.

1 million people died from AIDS-related illnesses in 2016, bringing the total number of people who have died from AIDS-related illnesses since the start of the epidemic to 35 million.

Information from UNAIDS