Paige Gagliano had a simple question: What does Theatre Baton Rouge mean to you?
She put it to the performers auditioning for the theater's annual gala set for July 13.
"The answers I got were so personal and heartfelt," Gagliano said, "and I knew what I wanted to do with the show."
So she's staging a show of Broadway standards, each song preceded by the performer talking about Theatre Baton Rouge.
"So many of them talk about how they have two families — their family at home and their family at the theater," Gagliano said.
The gala is Theatre Baton Rouge's biggest fundraiser of the year, with all proceeds supporting its productions and programs.
"We are ending our 73rd year, and we're already looking down the road at our 75th year and the things we'll be doing to celebrate it," said Caty Steward, marketing and development coordinator. "This is also the last time the gala will be in the summer. Next year, the gala will be in the spring. We found the perfect sweet spot in May. It'll take a lot of stress off of our staff, because we won't have to turn around and stage the gala immediately after the summer musical, and performers won't be going on summer vacation at that time."
Gagliano is joined by music director Michael Hull in putting together the gala show.
"We have 20 people in the show singing 27 songs," she said. "They'll be backed by a live band; it will be a full production with Clay Donaldson choreographing the numbers. And every number is meaningful."
Gagliano said the theater's influence doesn't stop at the stage for the performers.
"They also talk about how their experience with the theater has touched other parts of their lives," Gagliano said. "Jamie Leonard is a music teacher, and she says she wouldn't be the teacher she is today if it weren't for Theatre Baton Rouge. How many people did that affect in her life? How many students?"
Gagliano said she wants this show to be more than just a love letter to the theater.
"I want people to see the difference Theatre Baton Rouge makes," she said. "It's a positive message, and it's inspiring. I want people to leave the theater saying, 'This was money well spent.' ”
Performers for the gala are Katie Barnum, Darrell Traveler, Jamie Leonard Brubaker, Chip Davis, Natalie Overall, Pete Rizzo, Rosalind Reynard, Jada Traveler, Brandon Guillory, Lily McGill, Clay Donaldson, Lauren Smith, Reid Saari, Jules Culotta, Brandy Johnson, Tyler Robbins, Savannah Chaisson, Molly Kate Skupien, Sammie Vaughan, Marion Bienvenu, Kaitlin Richard, Tony Collins, Brent Thredgill and Elizabeth Ortiz.
Theatre Baton Rouge's Gala
WHEN: 6 p.m. Saturday, July 13
WHERE: Theatre Baton Rouge, 7155 Florida Blvd.
TICKETS/INFO: $50 in advance, $60 at the door. (225) 924-6496 or theatrebr.org