Theatre UNO: ‘Broadway Nights 2’ puts the “fun” in fundraiser

Jamie Lloyd, News Editor

On Feb.11, in the Robert E. Nims Theater, Theatre UNO, the University of New Orleans theater department, presented another musical installment to its community. “Broadway Nights 2” served, not only as a night of entertainment, but also as a fundraiser to send the UNO-directed production “The Aliens” on to the annual Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival in San Angelo, Texas.

“The original ‘Broadway Nights’ happened a few years ago to get ‘Night of the Iguana’ to the KCACTF regional festival as a fundraiser,” said director of “The Aliens,” Kristin Shoffner, a graduate theater student who also made an appearance in “Broadway Nights 2.”

The original fundraiser went under the moniker “Night of Broadway Lights;” however, this year it has been adapted to “Broadway Nights 2.”

“This year, we put in ‘Broadway Nights 2’ as a built-in fundraiser. [It is the] same concept as what we did last time, but [with] different performers,” Shoffner said. She said participants involved in bringing these musical numbers to life included alumni, local talent and the UNO Lakefront Players, members of the student-run theater.

The night of fun and fundraising kicked off with a champagne reception that displayed the work of UNO Professor and Costume Designer Anthony French.

Those in attendance included Stacy Nicklow, who hosted the champagne reception, her husband, President John Nicklow, and Provost Mahyar Amouzegar.

The charismatic masters-of-ceremonies, UNO theater alumni Gary Rucker and Mike Harkins, began with the opening number by introducing the UNO Players, whose performance of “Skid Row” from “Little Shop of Horrors” featured a few show-stopping solos from Nikka Hunter, Samantha Eroche and Raphael Mariano.

Other highlights of the night included “The Money Song” (“Avenue Q”), a cheeky rendition of “I’m Not That Smart” (“The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”) by graduate theater student Ryan Decker, and the crowd-favorite, “What Could Be Better?” (“Baby”), performed by graduate theater student Patrick Hunter and his wife, Melissa Hunter.

Shoffner performed the classic “Come Out of the Dumpster” (“The Wedding Singer”) alongside Patrick Hunter, which sent some audience members out of their seats reeling from laughter.

The night came to a close with the UNO Players putting on a mesmerizing performance of “Our Time”—a short, sweet, yet powerful number from the 1981 musical, “Merrily We Roll Along.

The next Theatre UNO event on the agenda is a special encore performance of “The Aliens” on Feb. 20 in the Nims Theater at 7 p.m.