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Benefit for those infected and affected by AIDS set for Friday

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AIDS/HIV awareness will be at the forefront of a benefit Friday night that was planned as part of an upcoming Peoria Players Theatre production of the renowned musical “Rent.”

“A Night With Friends,” a cabaret-style event scheduled for Friday at 6 p.m. at The Waterhouse in downtown Peoria will benefit area people who are both affected and infect with the HIV virus that causes AIDS. Tickets to the event, which includes food, beer and wine, are $70.

“Rent” is a rock musical written by Jonathan Larson in the early 1990s. It takes place in New York City’s East Village and focuses on the lives of struggling artists. It details issues and emotions at the height of the HIV/AIDs epidemic. 

It came to life on Broadway in 1996, and won many awards including a Tony Award for Best Musical. The Peoria Players production is scheduled for June 3-12. Now in rehearsal, is it directed by Deric Tucker Kimler.

Kimler and another well-known community theatre actor/director, Chip Joyce – who directed “Rent” at Eastlight Theatre in East Peoria in June 2009 – decided to do a wonderful fundraiser, with proceeds earmarked for Central Illinois Friends of People with AIDS.

The show will host a large diverse group of local theater favorites. It will kick off with a dance number and will have a wide variety of entertainment. It will be emceed by Chip Joyce and include some games such as a “dating game” that has audience participation. Adam Sitton will be the D.J. and there will be  singing and dancing by local theater favorites including many of the cast of Rent.

Vintage-style Thomas Edison lights will be hanging that evening. Kimler said a famous quote by Thomas Edison inspires this fundraiser: “The doctor of the future will give no medicine but will interest his patients in the care of human frame, diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.” 

Kimler said we have not gotten to that point yet and there is still a great need for awareness and accomplishing Edison’s hope that one day doctors will be treating HIV/AIDS and other serious diseases with preventive care.

The cost of living with HIV/AIDS virus is often catastrophic to the person with the virus, and also for caregivers and family with the virus.

The proceeds from A Night With Friends through will help those both affected and infected with HIV/AIDS by providing financial help, mental help, medical care cost help, and many other forms of support. This is a very expensive virus with many secondary diseases.

Peoria County has the highest STD rates in the state of Illinois.

“HIV/AIDS is not a gay disease; this affects all of us. We need to stop looking at all of our differences and realize that HIV/AIDS is a human disease that affects all human beings from all walks of life,” Kimler said. 

To order tickets to A Night With Friends visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/a-night-with-friends-tickets-22611284962


About the Author
Molly is a life-long Peorian and an author, speaker, and storyteller. She is married to Doug Bishop and has five children and one grandchild. Molly loves history and Peoria and loves to share her passions with anyone she can get to listen to her. She loves to research, interview, and write or speak about history. The youngest and ninth child of Don and Joani Crusen, she grew up on the West Bluff in the house her great grandparents built in the 1880s. She writes a historical column in Woman’s View magazine, and will be writing a column called The Peorian Perspective in The Peorian.