Intiman board president Kim Anderson stood in front of a packed theater last night, clad in a short ruby-red dress for the holiday. She looked up at the crowd of family, friends, and big-time donors—the people who braved the evening’s downpour and the theater’s fiscal storm to show their support—and did what many do in a time of crisis. She cracked a joke.
“So, I don’t know if you’ve read the papers…” she started. “But things have been a bit challenging here lately.”
Indeed. In an open letter to the arts community on Friday, Intiman announced that unless the theater can raise $1 million by September, it “cannot continue.” This news comes three months after former managing director Brian Colburn resigned suddenly, prompting disclosure of the gross mismanagement of Intiman’s finances, unpaid bills, and a looming fundraising goal of $2.75 million total for the 2011 season. But the Valentine’s cabaret wasn’t meant to be a telethon. “Tonight, we’re here to have fun,” she said.
It became the evening’s rally cry—we’re here to have fun!—while thoughts of budget cuts, a four-day work week, and the first fundraising deadline ($500,000 by the end of March) were kicked to the periphery. The cabaret had been planned months in advance. The show had to go on…for everyone’s sake.
With Intiman stars past, present, and future singing the likes of “All You Need is Love,” the evening felt like a talent show at a family reunion—if everyone in your brood happens to be Broadway caliber. Daniel Breaker, the Tony-nominated actor (Passing Strange, Shrek) and husband of artistic director Kate Whoriskey, emceed. His long-time friend Colman Domingo, who brings his solo show A Boy and His Soul to Intiman in October, showed off a rich baritone that all but sent the audience rushing to the box office to score tickets. Ruined star Condola Rashad crooned her own a cappella R&B tune that “she’d never sung for humans before”; Nick Garrison paid tribute to Edith Piaf.
It was a revue of the best Intiman has seen under Whoriskey, who inherited the job from Bart Sher last year, and a showcase of what might be. Whoriskey made her pitch, hands firmly in pockets, rarely glancing up from the notes she brought on stage. “I’m not a performer,” she quipped. Better to direct The Miracle Worker than have to be one.
By intermission, Intiman had raised $43,000. It’s still several hundred thousand from their goal.