A Chicago Success Story

Give a lil', Take a lil'
 And split the rest

Many things constitute charity. The Illegitimate Players had a reputation of being one of the very, very few improv groups that faithfully paid their director, musician, light technician, and understudies.   They were also one of the very few that did not pay themselves.  While that may not constitute as charity, it does rank up there with puzzling.

And once we were thriving with productions of full length plays, that circle of salaried recipients grew to include technicians, stand-by technicians, set builders, publicists, costume designers, guest actors and their understudy counterparts. It seemed that anyone who got in that lined walked away rewarded. Anyone, that is, except the Illegitimate members. We opted to pool our rewards for the next phase in our theatrical journey. Luckily, we were on our own payroll for our corporate gigs as “The Comedy Option.“

But this is about charitable contributions, of which The Illegitimate Players did their share.  One of my favorite contributions was the annual telecast of The Children's Memorial Hospital.  For this we would work the phones dressed in whatever outlandish character costumes we employed in our latest revue.  Which begs the question .. would you give your credit card number to a platinum blonde wigged eunuch wearing only a toga?

Another favorite was Milly's Orchid Show.  It was such a delightful clash of talent in one big show. Very popular and hip to be there.  Milly's (Bridgid Murphy) over-the-top Country Western singer wannabe started this event in 1987 and introduced us to a slew of up and coming talented artists.  An early haunt for such notables as Paula Killen, Marcia Wilke and the Chicago premier introduction to New York's Blue Man Group.

Brigid Murphy as "Milly"

All credit for our charitable endeavors goes to our producer and fellow thesbian, Maureen FitzPatrick, a "whiz-kid" promoter out of Marquette who regularly led us to give a lil to get a lil.  Sometimes our efforts got us some ink in the local papers, which never hurts.  Beats having to continually conceive children to eek into Kup's column or INC.

We often utilized our running plays to support charities and events.  During "Of Grapes and Nuts", which ran the same time as Steppenwolf's  "The Grapes of Wrath", we set up a joint event and invited the cast for a performance and donated the night's proceeds to a local food bank.  This was also a chance for the much acclaimed cast to see how the "other" Joad's lived.

We also regularly donated our proceeds from the usual "Actor's night" performances, benefitting Young Performance schools and organizations.  Not to mention the occassional "Save the Roxy" fund raisers, our first theatrical home.

So in the end, perhaps we gave a lil more than we got,  but thank goodness we were proficient at counterfeiting.

Copyright 2009 - Keith Cooper / Cooperweb