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This year’s Guess Who’s Coming to Improv was an incredible event thanks to an energetic cast of comedic actors, a myriad of generous donations, a cadre of NUEA volunteers and a determined Event Producers.
First things first, according to Lexie Weiss, who co-produced our fourth annual fundraiser, the most exciting part of the evening was “working with Laverne McKinnon, the extremely talented cast and an incredible staff.” Weiss co-produced the event with McKinnon and Temple Williams.
The organization raised the bar on November 10, 2003, thanks to Sherry Lansing’s generous donation of the Paramount Theatre and Director Michael Hitchcock’s hysterical show. We already knew that Hitchcock, known for his Groundlings and Mad TV work, would deliver, plus he directed one heck of an NUEA Improv in 2002. The difference this time was the spark that resulted from the surroundings and dedication of a committed cast and determined volunteers.
That spark was the first thing members noticed when they walked into the reception. The large, open room provided a great opportunity for NU grads to mingle and share stories. Simone Nelson, recently relocated to LA, was surprised to “bump into so many familiar faces.” According to Weiss, that’s the trick to putting on events of this type. The goal is to make people feel comfortable enough so they can make new connections and renew old ones. “Much of the hard work is behind the scenes.” Without the generous support of grads like David Gersh and Joe LaBritz, such a spectacular event would not be possible. Jeff Ravitz designed the lighting and was assisted by Kari Miller. Plus. A number of volunteers like Hank Chilton, Dorothy Dillingham, Shannon Dobson, Heidi Heller, Justin Bradshaw, Toni Perling and countless others really rolled up their sleeves.
Guests Brad Markowich and Sue Thomas were extremely impressed by the turnout. If you were going to miss an NUEA event, this should not have been the one. Close to 200 people turned out to see the improvisational genius of John Lehr, Kimberly Williams-Paisley, Josh Meyers, Nicole Sullivan, Robert Patrick Benedict, Romy Rosemont, Danielle Gaither, Rich Kaplan, JP Manoux, and George Newbern. A number of the most memorable sketches centered on NU inside jokes, including a faux newscast from Evanston. For many there, we felt like our old photo albums had been opened. Heather Madore shared, “Not being an NU Alum, it was wonderful to see what a tight knit community Northwestern has after graduation.” Thanks to our cast that community was clearly expressed on stage.
Weiss, who worked as a talent agent and manager, has recently decided to raise the bar on her commitment to NUEA. She’ll be supporting David Zucker’s efforts as the new Co-VP of Events. “I’m excited about working with David to create new panels and events, particularly those co-sponsored with other universities.” That’s a handful considering she is currently working on a Masters in Psychology. More importantly, Weiss is grateful to have had the opportunity to help the organization put on a fundraiser that had a lot of style.
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