Tonawanda News

November 29, 2012

Call out for groups to benefit from Night of 1,000 Divas fundraiser

By Danielle Haynes
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — Non-profit organizations far and wide, community do-gooder Evelyn Zupo would like you to give her a call ... she wants to give you money.

Well, sort of. 

She’s actually looking for churches, auxiliary groups, Girl Scout groups — basically anyone who qualifies as a non-profit and needs a little help with fundraising — to become involved with the Night of 1,000 Divas event, a musical production at the Riviera Theatre Zupo said is meant to be an easy way for groups to raise funds.

Night of 1,000 Divas will hold its fifth annual event Jan. 30 consisting of a musical, “I Do, I Do” put on by Coop’s Spotlight Productions. 

The gist is this: Coop’s co-founders Chris Cooper and Debbie Zawada donate the production for one night, and Frank Canatta, executive director of the Riviera, donates the theater space. The theater sells tickets to organizations — DeGraff Hospital Auxiliary, the YWCA and Zonta are already on board, for example — at a cost of $5 per ticket. 

“Any non-profit organization can participate by paying the Riviera $5 per person, whether it be 10 tickets or 100 tickets,” Zupo said. “They write a check to the Riviera, I hand them the tickets, then they sell them for $25 and keep the $20 profit.”

It’s easy, she said, pointing to the ability for organizations big and small to sell as many tickets as they want without having to lift a finger organizing the event.

“Meals on Wheels may take 10 tickets, DeGraff Hospital may take 100,” Zupo said. “The groups can be as successful as they want to be.”

Phyllis Gentner, board member of the DeGraff Hospital Auxilliary and senior marketing associate at the hospital, said Night of 1,000 Divas gives the hospital its biggest return on investment.

“There’s a lot of pressure to make those extra dollars, but there’s also a lot more people doing” the same, she said. “It’s more challenging. We’re always looking for producitve, prosperous ways to make money, and this is the biggest bang for our buck.”

Last year, for example, DeGraff sold 100 tickets, profitting about $2,000 all for the effort of simply handing out tickets and accepting money.

There are a couple of caveats, though, Zupo said. Organizations must pay for their tickets up front, cannot return any they don’t sell and must sell them for no less than $25 because it would be an unfair advantage over other groups.

Groups can always ask for more tickets later if they sell the first batch.

The event got its name from the “Diva by Diva” show hosted at the Riviera the first couple years of the fundraiser. Night of 1,000 Divas switched to working with Coop’s Spotlight Productions two years ago, something Cooper said has been a great experience.

“We feel very strongly about helping the community in any way we can,” she said, adding that the production group works to promote children’s theater at the Riviera. “We’re trying to give children and families a away to afford to see children’s work and to get them in the theater.”

She described “I Do, I Do” as an upbeat musical about about the tribulations and joys of 50 years of marriage. While there’s the potential for darker themes, Cooper said they want to keep the show light so it’s a fun night out for the community.

Interested parties should contact Zupo directly at 390-8551. Personalized fliers for the event will be provided to those who take part.

NIGHT OF 1,000 DIVAS FUNDRAISER EVENT • WHAT: "I Do, I Do" musical put on by Coop's Starlight Productions • WHEN: Jan. 30 • WHERE: Riviera Theatre, 67 Webster St., North Tonawanda • COST: Tickets cost $5 each up front. Groups can buy and sell as many tickets as they want. Organizations must sell each ticket for at least $25 and cannot return any unsold tickets. • MORE INFORMATION: Call Evelyn Zupo at 390-8551.

Contact features editor Danielle Haynes at 693-1000, ext. 4116.