MTS to host Night At The Movies-themed Fights AIDS Gala

By Parker Garlough, Staff Writer

In collaboration with Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, the Emerson Musical Theatre Society will host a series of fundraisers to support those affected by HIV and AIDS.

The annual event will begin with a night-at-the-movies-themed dinner gala on Nov. 4 at 6 p.m., immediately followed by a cabaret featuring songs from several classic movie musicals. The next day at 2 p.m., Broadway persona Grey Henson will conduct a virtual masterclass and Q&A session. Donations between $5 and $20 per participant are requested, and all proceeds will be donated to BCEFA. 

The BCEFA financially supports over 450 organizations across the U.S.—including Fenway Community Health Center, Greater Boston Food Bank, Rosie’s Place, and Victory Programs, Inc., which collectively received a total of $67,500 from last year’s fundraiser. 

Community Engagement Coordinator Taylor Mattes describes the BCEFA’s hope to brighten the lives of those suffering from HIV and AIDS. 

“AIDS is always going to be at the heart of our mission because that’s how we were created,” Mattes said in an interview with The Beacon. “But now it’s not so much about reactionary treatment. It’s about helping those living with and affected by AIDS to maintain it as a livable condition.” 

Sophomore business of creative enterprises major Samantha Duggan is the producer for the gala, cabaret, and masterclass. This role involves coordinating logistics and facilitating communication between all involved in the fundraising events. On the day of the gala, she will be setting up decorations, collaborating with the stage manager, checking in guests, and problem-solving. 

“We are sold out, so I’ve been putting people on a waitlist,” Duggan said. “I’m just hoping we have enough room so everyone who wants to see the show can see the show.” 

During the masterclass portion of the fundraiser, Grey Henson will critique six participants’ audition materials. Henson is best known for his roles as Damian Hubbard in “Mean Girls: The Musical” and Elder McKinley in “The Book of Mormon.”

“Grey is a wonderful [LGBTQ+] advocate, and he is a very prominent figure in the Broadway community as well,” Duggan said. 

Per Mattes’ suggestion, the gala will allow people to purchase theater memorabilia in a silent auction.

“Selling your own posters, your own playbills, and props from your show set pieces is a great way to make it really personal. Broadway Cares was also able to donate signed Broadway posters as well,” Mattes said. “Samantha was looking for something different to do at the event that they hadn’t done previously, which is why a silent auction became part of the conversation.”

Mattes provides similar support for many schools, regional theaters, and other organizations through her role at the BCEFA. She described the value of fundraising not just for the benefactors but also for those who give back and support the larger cause. 

“It’s so easy to get caught up in the cycle of auditions and everything, so having a goal for making a difference is very beneficial,” Mattes said. “If you’re fundraising with Broadway Cares, you are a part of the theater community at large. If you’re doing red bucket fundraising, you’re doing the same fundraising the Broadway community is doing, so my goal is to bring everybody together for this one common goal. That’s what I do here.”

Mattes encourages students interested in staying involved with BCEFA after the gala to join the Bucket Brigade. Following a speech made by a cast member about BCEFA’s mission, Bucket Brigade volunteers collect cash donations in red buckets at the exit of theater performances. Appeals are conducted in two six-week periods: one in the spring and one in the fall. The current fundraising period runs from Oct. 21 to Dec. 4. 

Emerson students have worked with BCEFA for over a decade to host the Fight AIDS gala and cabaret. This year, they hope to be able to raise $1500, after surpassing their initial goal of $1200. Tickets to each event can be purchased at