Divas duke it out to raise funds for Theatre Lawrence

Fights to benefit charities are nothing new. Pit two or more celebrity combatants in the ring, have them duke it out for a good cause, and you’ve got the makings of a good fundraiser.

Theatre Lawrence knows a good thing when it sees one. So, Saturday night, an eight-woman battle royale is happening live onstage.

Well, it’s not exactly a fight. It’s a sing-off between eight local performers to raise money for the group.

“Dueling Divas” features a friendly competition, in which eight contestants will sing two songs each. The best performer at the end of the night receives the coveted title of “Diva” complete with crown.

But this is a fundraiser, so musical talent alone won’t be enough to earn diva glory. The audience members vote for their favorites, and the contestant who raises the most money wins.

“$1 equals one vote,” says Kay Traver, Theatre Lawrence’s marketing director. “The more money someone spends voting on any particular diva, the more likely she is to win.” And audience members are not discouraged from “voting” for more than one contestant.

“You can vote as many times as you like for as many divas as you like,” Traver says.

In fact, voting is open now, so the participants can attempt to come in with a lead. Friends, colleagues and family members are encouraged to pre-give to hand their favorites an edge.

“It’s all in good fun for a good cause,” Traver says.

Theatre Lawrence has assembled a diverse group to compete for the crown this time, the third year it has held the event. Five of the women have never performed on Theatre Lawrence’s stage before. Many of them have extensive musical training, including Rachel Black, who performed professionally in Boston and New York; Kristian Noel Bucy, a chorister with the Kansas City Lyric Opera; Erica Fox, who performed professionally in Salzburg, Germany, and Pittsburgh; and Hilary Morton, Free State High School’s director of choral music. Downtown Lawrence Inc. Director Cathy Hamilton is also back in the competition. She was scheduled to perform in the event’s inaugural year of 2011 but was struck with laryngitis and couldn’t participate.

The event will also feature a special appearance by Sarah Young, who won the first two installments. Young will perform at the end of the first act but is not competing this time.

The evening begins at 6:30 p.m. with hors d’oeuvres from Maceli’s. The curtain goes up at 7:30 p.m. There is also a silent auction featuring some special items, including a basketball signed by the KU men’s team, a four-night stay at a luxury condo in Washington D.C., and a one-night stay locally at the Circle-S Ranch.

Tickets for “Dueling Divas” are $60. The price includes food, soft drinks and alcohol. Call the Theatre Lawrence box office at 785-843-7469 to make reservations. Bios for all the contestants and the chance to pre-vote by making a pledge are available online at theatrelawrence.com.

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