LENOX, MA (July 30, 2018) – It was a picture perfect Berkshire evening on Wednesday, July 25, as WAM Theatre supporters packed the bucolic grounds of the Berkshire Equestrian Center in Richmond. They celebrated and supported the company’s ninth season at WAM’s sold-out Midsummer Cocktail Party Benefit, hosted by Berkshire favorite Ty Allan Jackson.

Many actors and artists who have worked with WAM over the years mingled with the guests, including Alexander Sovronsky, who provided live music. Live and silent auctions added to the fun coordinated by Only In My Dreams events.

The event raised more than $38,000 for WAM’s Education programs and the company’s upcoming fall production of Ann by Holland Taylor, starring Emmy-award winning actress Jayne Atkinson, and directed by WAM Artistic Director, Kristen van Ginhoven.

The highlight of the evening was the premiere of WAM’s 2018 Girls Ensemble’s new devised theatre piece, Seeking Justice. The 12 participants of this year’s cohort received a standing ovation for their performance. Audience members were delighted to hear that, thanks to WAM’s education sponsors, Girls Ensemble was a paying summer job for the participants.

Gala participants were the first to learn the identity of the non-profits that will benefit from WAM’s fall production of Ann. In keeping with its double philanthropic mission, WAM Theatre will be donating 25% of the box office proceeds from Ann to its 14th and 15th beneficiaries, The Denise Kaley Fund and the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts’ 2018 Leadership Institute for Political and Public Impact (LIPPI).

The 2018 beneficiaries were chosen after a rigorous selection process, including a request for proposals and site visits, overseen by a committee at WAM consisting of Kristen van Ginhoven, Margaret Fluhr (WAM Volunteer), Wendy Healey (WAM Board of Directors), and Lia Russell-Self (WAM Artist).

The Denise Kaley Fund stands alone in their mission to help women living with cancer in Berkshire County pay for the cost of life’s necessities as they undergo treatment and heal: heating oil, groceries, car payments and repairs, rent, mortgage payments, babysitting and medical expenses not covered by insurance, to name just a few. WAM’s donation will provide emergency grants for women with cancer in Berkshire County. The founders of the Denise Kaley Fund, Barbara Bonner, Ellen Boyd, and Beth Rose, were on hand to speak on behalf of the Fund.

Since 1997, the Women’s Fund has been supporting women and girls in the four counties of western Mass through grant making and leadership programs. Their Leadership Institute for Political and Public Impact, or LIPPI, is a non-partisan initiative that provides women with the tools, mentors, and confidence they need to become our region’s community leaders and elected officials. LIPPI trains women in the nuts and bolts of impacting policy from a citizen perspective, and develops leadership confidence through 11 intensive workshops held in over 10 months. WAM’s donation will provide scholarships for Berkshire participants in the 2018 LIPPI cohort. LIPPI alumna Gwendolyn Hampton Van Sant was on hand at the gala to share her inspiring story of how the program impacted her work, and how WAM’s donation will make a difference.

(press release sent to WSBS from WAM Theatre for online and on-air use, article image taken from WAM's Facebook page