From 2017 to 2019, Canes Care graced the historic Jerry Herman Ring Theatre stage at the University of Miami. The yearly charity event quickly attracted everyone from professors and parents to alumni and students of every major. But when performances went virtual in 2020, it was time for UM’s Theatre Action Group (TAG) to do what artists do best: get creative.
“Prior to the pandemic, Canes Care was an in-person concert that brought students, faculty and patrons together for a night of celebration. But the pandemic reality has presented a whole host of opportunities for us to grow this event,” said TAG president Caleb Polsky, a senior BFA musical theatre candidate at UM.
Despite the global crisis, Canes Care has only grown. Last year, audience members tuned in from all across the country, offered Venmo shoutouts and donations and raised over $3,000 for Broadway Cares Equity Fights AIDS (BCEFA).
“We’ve involved alumni of the Department of Theatre Arts in entirely unexplored ways, raised funds through students’ home communities and entered the realm of edited performances, which has entirely changed our experience,” Polsky continued.
This Saturday night, May 15 at 8 p.m., TAG is streaming Canes Care 2021: Late Night with TAG, a late-night show-inspired take on the beloved annual event founded by TAG’s executive board four years ago.
Canes Care benefits BCEFA, a nonprofit founded by members of the Broadway community in the late 1980s in response to the AIDS epidemic. Broadway stars rally every year for BCEFA, and individual shows auction off everything from signed items to private backstage tours to raise money. Canes Care functions similarly as a benefit concert featuring UM performers and an auction.
“Supporting BCEFA means supporting one of the LGBTQ community’s most prominent allies. It means working to remove the stigma around HIV prevention, and it means saving lives,” said Christian Miller, a TAG executive board freshman representative.
This year, TAG took it up a notch. They kicked off fundraising with a department-wide spirit week in April during which theatre classes competed against each other. The more social media posts in spirit wear and donations each class garnered contributed to their total points and boosted the theatre department and campus morale. TAG also hosted a Chipotle fundraiser and has raised over $4,000 for BCEFA in this year alone.
The 2021 edition of Canes Care will include performances from students in every year and varying schools within UM. Prepare to be wowed by vocals from musical theatre majors, laugh at SNL-inspired sketches from theatre department actors and be blown away by Frost performances — just to name a few.
“I’m so incredibly inspired by TAG students for working overtime to ensure Canes Care will be more successful than ever despite this year’s challenges,” Polsky said. “We’ve raised more money and gained more student participation than every prior year we’ve hosted the event. I think this is a testament to the spirit of our community — We are hungry for the opportunity to support one another.”
While performers may not be able to return to the stage together just yet, they’re certainly ready to uplift each other. And Canes Care 2021 is just the beginning. Don’t forget to join TAG from the comfort of your own home via YouTube livestream this Saturday night!
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