DOWNERS GROVE – A desire to help neighbors in need inspires a new performance troupe lending powerful voice to good causes. Musical theater veteran Jim Molina brings together musicians and vocalists in a debut Downers Grove benefit concert of lesser known gems in “The Best of Broadway,” with Hope's Front Door selected as the inaugural charity.
"Our singers are unbelievable," Molina said of the 11 vocalists teaming up for the Resurrection Players' first production, with Dick Johnson of NBC Chicago as guest host at the opening night gala.
The singers' extensive credits range from competing on "American Idol" to sharing the stage with Andrea Bocelli.
The concert is set in the First Congregational United Church of Christ, where Downers Grove keyboardist Molina serves as music director. He and three fellow church band instrumentalists will accompany the singers in selections spanning "Wicked" to "Les Miserables."
"I have a talented group of musicians; we do have a gift, and thought we might as well use it for the power of good," said Molina, president of Resurrection Players. "[The show features] music from 'The Wiz,' 'Miss Saigon,' 'Rent' and 'The Book of Mormon,' which will be a lot of fun. People should come just for that song; it will be a surprise. Director Anthony Berg has been writing a narrative that weaves it all together."
Molina said the troupe intends to put on an annual production for different charities. For its launch, it not only provides the entertainment, but has collected donated goods and services for a silent auction on opening night, with festivities starting at 6:30 p.m. with hors d'oeuvres. The efforts are all designed to support Hope's Front Door, and raise its profile in the communities it serves: Darien, Downers Grove, Lisle, Westmont, Willowbrook and Woodridge. Auction items range from condo stays in the Caribbean and on the South Carolina shore to theater tickets, a wine tasting, music lessons and Bears tickets.
"It's the first time an organization has done something on our behalf of this magnitude," said Janell Robinson of Woodridge, executive director of Hope's Front Door. "I'm really heartened."
The nonprofit offers a safety net for people facing financial or medical crises. Volunteers determine where their needs lie, and help connect them to such lifelines as food; medical, dental and vision services; transportation vouchers; job coaching and employment opportunities; financial literacy; and a pathway into the network of social agencies that can help them restructure their lives.
"We've been around for 15 years," Robinson said, citing support from such partners as churches, businesses and individuals. "We would not be standing if it weren't for the wonderful volunteers we have coming in. There are multiple ways to take part … long-term and short-term projects.
"I'm always just amazed by the response of people in the community once they learn of the depth of need," Robinson said. "I'm excited about where we're going. [In addition to] immediate emergency assistance … we've grown into an organization [that] also provides education programs that empower people to change their lives and make long-term change."
To learn more about the charity, an open house is planned Thursday, Sept. 17, in its quarters at the First Congregational Church in Downers Grove. Refreshments and tours are part of the event, with reservations requested at 630-322-9803 or www.hopesfrontdoor.com.