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Comedy for a cause


Community theater actors band together to raise money for fire victims

There’s always been a bit of rivalry among the community theaters in Brevard. But on Saturday, actors and patrons will put aside their loyalties for “A Bit Flamin’ Sketchy.”

The comedy show is a fundraiser, with proceeds going to United Way of Brevard’s 2008 Fire Response Fund, which helps victims of the recent fires in Palm Bay.

It’s been organized by actor Adrian Cahill, an occupational therapist with Health First Homecare.

“When you’re homebound, God, just imagine the fire getting close and you’re about to lose everything,” he said. “There’s nothing you can do. It really is tragic.”

Watching people dropping off supplies, Cahill was inspired to do something. Then he heard the Red Cross said what the fire victims need now is money.

So Cahill, who produced and directed three previous incarnations of “A Bit Sketchy,” came up with the idea of reviving the comedy show and presenting it as a fundraiser.

“It’s the Mickey Rooney thing: ‘Let’s put on a show,’ ” Cahill said. “What we needed was an instant putting on of a show. We had that in the sketchy stuff. We still had scripts, costumes, props. We had all the stuff.”

He approached Jerry Brees, executive director of the Henegar Center for the Arts.

“We hadn’t been talking for more than a minute when he said, ‘That’s a good idea,’ ” Cahill said.

In fact, Brees jumped at the chance. He said arts organizations are always asking the community for help. This is a chance to give back.

“We don’t often get a chance to help the community,” Brees said. “It’s what we do best.”

The word went out to actors. More than two dozen responded.

Cahill is happy there is an “ecumenical feeling” to the cast.

“There is a rivalry among theater groups,” he joked. “We do secretly smile when someone else gets a bad review. We’re nasty like that. We can’t help it. So we do become very fractured and tribal. This is a wonderful opportunity for people to pull together.”

Cahill describes the show as a “best of.” The sketches are mostly well known and originated on popular TV shows such as “Saturday Night Live” and “Monty Python’s Flying Circus.”

Many of the sketches are, to put it mildly, ribald. Some could be considered downright offensive to more sensitive audience members. Therefore, parents are advised that the risque material could be too much for children.

Many of the actors have been in previous “Sketchy” shows and are resurrecting the comedy scenes they did in them.

One such actor is Dan Wilkerson, who led the Monty Python “I’m a Lumberjack” routine.

“It’s a good cause,” Wilkerson said. “I live in Palm Bay, and it really hit home to me. Fires ended up being just around the corner from my house. It was very frightening at the time. I have friends who were affected by the fire more directly. It’s really sad what people who had actual losses went through. If we can raise some money to help the people out, that’s great.

“It’s a win-win,” he said. “The audience gets to have fun, have a night of entertainment. We get to have fun putting on the show, and we get to make some money for a good cause.”

Other performers include Mark Blackledge, Dana Blanchard, Sally Contess, Angelina Cotto-Perez, Peg Girard, Terrence Girard, Rachel Greshes, Kathy Harris, Pete Jacobsen, Christina LaFortune, Michael LaFortune, Adam Lucker, Chandler McRee, Anthony Mowad, Mike Paul, Bill Ronat, Jeff Schweers (a FLORIDA TODAY reporter), Alan Selby, Jessica Taylor, Susan Teplica, Mike Thompson, Jennifer Wolf and Steven Wolf.

If the fundraiser is successful, Cahill will present more “Sketchy” shows for charity.

“If this does, as I hope, turn into an annual thing, it will take on a different flavor next year,” he said. “We’ll start a lot earlier and invite people, almost like a ‘bring-your-own sketch.’ “

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