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1998-1999 fundraising appeal for
All-of-us Express Children's Theatre

Celebrate Our Tenth Season!

Dear Friends,

We've been here for you and your children since 1989, helping children create quality theater experiences for area families. For us to continue to meet this demand through our second decade, it is time for you to help us build an endowment fund. Please take a moment to review who we are and what we've done, and look at our exciting plans for the next ten seasons!

Our Mission

All-of-us Express is a place where children discover who they can be and what they can do. A place where adults and older children help younger children learn the discipline and skills needed to bring live drama to the stage. A learning place. A growing place.

We're a theater company. We hold auditions, select a cast and crews, rehearse for six to eight weeks, build sets, make costumes, design and practice makeup, take it all to a rented theater, and put on six or seven performances in front of paying audiences.

Winnie-the-Pooh this November was our 39th mainstage production! Over 2,000 adults and children bought tickets to see one of the six performances of this show.

Our production of Macbeth was acclaimed by local theater patrons. The dedication of our staff and the range and depth of our efforts have twice won us Thespie Awards from The Lansing State Journal.

Our casts and most of our crews are children, ages six to eighteen. The shows we produce are mostly targeted at families with young children. But what we do is not 'kids stuff'. What we do is serious theater, worthy of mention in the same breath as all the other community theater that takes place in the area.

Makeup workshop
Makeup Workshop

A child who accepts a major role in one of our productions spends on the order of 60 hours rehearsing, 4 hours learning to apply makeup, and 25 hours at a theater putting on the shows. Crew members with major responsibilities (assistant director, props, lights, sound) devote similar amounts of time to learning and doing their jobs. Even the youngest children in the smallest roles put in 50 hours of work on a show and are held to high expectations of behavior and performance.

Treasure Island
Treasure Island

When two months of intense effort culminates in raising the curtain on a house of 400 or more paying customers, what our young performers feel just cannot be put into words. They go out there and do a professional job, because that's what they've been training to do. Then they do it another five or six times before we close the show. None of them is ever quite the same again!

Many parents have seen their children visibly change during involvement in an All-of-us Express production. One parent said her daughter went from a "do it with me" to a "I want to try it myself" child in one summer. This child continues to use her theater experience as a pattern for growth and learning in all areas of her life.

All-of-us Express Children's Theatre is not a school, but we teach respect, trust, self-confidence, and quite a few practical skills. Theater is a hands-on environment where children work with experienced adults to accomplish common goals. It's hard work, but we have 50 to 200 children audition for each of our productions, and we involve 100 to 200 children on cast and crew in each production. This is the kind of focused, real-life work that children want to do (and need to do)!

In addition to staging major productions, we are beginning to offer a wide range of classes: audition workshops, beginning and advanced acting, stage combat, creative dramatics, clowning, costume design, dramatic writing, theater makeup, and our Express Studio Workshop. We host a clown troupe, Clowns at Play, and a touring theater troupe, Storybook Story Theatre.

The adult staff at All-of-us Express is involved in the local dramatic arts scene in a variety of ways. We are fortunate to have adults working with us who have professional degrees and experience in clowning, the performing arts, the graphic arts, writing, and teaching. Every adult working with the company is dedicated to working with children, helping them learn the many skills they need to stay out of trouble and grow up to be happy and productive adult members of the community.

One of the unique aspects of involvement with All-of-us Express is that children of all ages and backgrounds work together toward the common goal of bringing a show to stage. Not only is the cast a diverse range of ages, but the crews have a place for everyone to contribute: audition, costume, set construction, publicity, box office, party, makeup, props, lights, sound, set movers, usher, and lobby display crews contribute to every show, and each show has at least one student assistant director. Most of these crews are headed or assisted by adult volunteers.

Where We're Going

Today's children are the workers and the leaders of tomorrow. No investment in the future can pay dividends better than an investment in developing the character and skills of our children.

This is exactly what we do at All-of-us Express Children's Theater.

Look. No one questions the value of sports for kids, right? The team involvement, diligent practice, commitment to a common goal, and exposure to adult leadership and ideals. Great stuff!

Well, go back a page and read what we do with kids. Team involvement (we call it cast and crews), diligent practice, commitment to a common goal, and exposure to adult leadership and ideals. Great stuff!

We do all that and more for our area children. We're the sports organization for kids who don't or can't do sports. We provide the winter sport for kids who do sports in the summer.

Macbeth
Macbeth

And we want to keep doing what we've been doing for almost ten years. We want to do more. We hate having to turn kids away, and right now we have to turn kids away. We don't have the staff time available to work with all the kids who come to us.

To be able to do more, we have a very simple plan:

The All-of-us Express Endowment Fund

Gifts given last summer in memory of Patricia Weymouth, mother of Evelyn Weymouth, the founder and Artistic Director of All-of-us Express, are the seed for creating an endowment fund that will let us weather the ups and downs of fundraising and grant revenue. We have about $1,000 on hand. We need $5,000 to formally create a managed endowment fund. That's the goal of this letter, to bring in at least $4,000 in gifts to create the fund.

The earnings on the All-of-us Express Endowment Fund, approximately 5% per year in the current financial climate, will be used for staff salaries, and eventually to help operate our own facility with office, rehearsal, and performance space for our company and for other children-oriented arts companies in our area.

Please write your generous check payable to the "All-of-us Express Endowment Fund." All-of-us Express Children's Theatre is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, so your gift is deductible to the full extent allowed by law. We have no outstanding loans and have never been in the red financially. You will receive a gift acknowledgment.

Raggedy Ann & Andy
Raggedy Ann & Andy

Thank you for helping us help all the children in our community!

Sincerely,

Lisa Lees
President

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Enclosed is my check made out to 'ACT Endowment Fund'. I will
receive an acknowledgment, and a status report in a few months.

 __ $25  __ $50  __ $100  __ $250  __ $500  Other: $__________

Name: ________________________________________________________

Address: _____________________________________________________

City: ____________________________ State: ____ Zip: __________

Phone: _____________________ Email: __________________________

You may list my name as a donor in show programs: __ yes __ no

All-of-us Express is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation.
Donations are deductible to the full extent allowed by law.

It is the mission of All-of-us Express Children's Theatre to provide young people with an opportunity to produce plays of a professional quality, and to provide the community with an opportunity to enjoy live family-oriented dramatic activities.

----- a rainbow of possibilities! -----
© 1999 All-of-us Express, 819 Abbot Road, East Lansing MI 48823 USA (517) 394-4118

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