“I wasn’t aware of AIDS in the 1970s and 1980s. I was young. It didn’t affect me until I went to college,” says Kristin Chenoweth. “Then in the early 1990s my voice teacher passed away from it. I literally watched him die. That changed the whole life of a little girl from Oklahoma.”
Soon after, the renowned opera singer Stephen Dickson came to teach at Chenoweth’s school. “I didn’t know at the time that he was ill. I ended up watching him deteriorate. Another teacher of mine died as well. You’re in college and you think, ‘This can’t be happening.’?”
Today, Chenoweth is a major supporter of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, which is one of the nation’s leading industry-based, nonprofit AIDS fundraising and grant-making organizations. Since 1988, BC/EFA has raised over $175 million for people with the disease and other critical illnesses.
Most recently, the star of “Promises, Promises” performed alongside Euan Morton and Vanessa Williams in the Broadway Bares fundraiser “Strip-ology,” which nabbed over $1 million for BC/EFA.
“Broadway Cares also helps (victims of) Katrina, Haiti and the oil spill,” Chenoweth says. Part of the proceeds of the show will also go to the Phyllis Newman Women’s Health Initiative, which helps women with breast cancer.
“That’s huge for me, because my mother had it twice,” adds the performer. “BF/EFC also contributes to the Actors Fund, the AIDS Initiative and the Dancers’ Resource, which helps support housing for injured dancers. It covers the gamut.”
And so does Chenoweth, who doesn’t allow anyone to shirk his or her responsibility. “Even my dog, Madeline Kahn Chenoweth, has her own her own charity, Maddie’s Corner. It supports No Kill Shelters and dogs that need to be adopted. Part of the money that we raise will go to BC/EFA. Anything that I do goes towards this.”
For more information, visit Broadwaycares.org.