Press Releases

2014 FETE

Philadelphia - The Wilma Theater will hold its annual Theater Lovers Fête on Monday, May 5, 2014 at 5:30pm, honoring Philadelphia’s own Virginia and Harvey Kimmel with the Wilma Star Award. Guests will experience an exquisite evening of good cheer, remarkable performances featuring the Bearded Ladies Cabaret, an exciting live auction, and an unforgettable night of dinner, dessert, and dancing.

The evening will begin with a cocktail reception at 5:30pm in the lobby of The Wilma Theater followed by a thrilling performance by the Bearded Ladies Cabaret, an award ceremony, and a live auction. Guests will then be guided to the Ormandy Ballroom for dinner catered by Executive Chef Ben Young and dessert and dancing with music provided by DJ AQ.

Virginia and Harvey Kimmel began their support of the Philadelphia cultural community at the Wilma in 1998 with the Student Sunday ticketing program underwritten by the Virginia and Harvey Kimmel Endowment Fund. This program provides $10 tickets to students for Sunday evening performances and has served over 11,000 students since its launch. Student Sundays were the inspiration for the student pricing portion of Wilma WynTix, a new ticketing initiative beginning next season. More recently, the Kimmels began the Virginia and Harvey Kimmel Family Campaign to Build the Audiences of Tomorrow strengthening the Wilma’s vital education and outreach programs: Wilmagination, which brings the theater arts to inner-city middle and high school students in Philadelphia, and Wilma Classroom, which provides curricular support and complimentary programming to assist teachers in integrating a Wilma performance into their classes.

Virginia and Harvey Kimmel have been supporters, advocates, and patrons of the cultural and educational communities for many years. In addition to their work with the Wilma, they are also long-time active supporters of Art-Reach and proudly helped fund Arden for All with the Arden Theatre Company, which is a need-based theatre access program that provides 5,000 tickets and show-related books to underserved students in Philadelphia, Camden, and Ridley Park each season. Harvey was a founder and board chair for Dancing Classrooms Philadelphia, which has served over 12,000 students by building social awareness, confidence, and self-esteem in children through the practice of social dance. The Kimmels are also strong supporters of Philadelphia Young Playwrights, whose goal is to tap the potential of youth and inspire learning through playwriting. Most recently, they have worked with The Philadelphia Film Society to start a Saturday movie program that allows children to attend a movie for $1.

Over 30 years ago the Kimmels started their first educational assistance program through two endowments to sponsor minority graduate enrollment at The Smeal College of Business at Penn State University. Through this effort, almost 300 minority students have received their MBAs. At their summer residence in Bridgman, MI, the Kimmels provide an arts assistance program for the Bridgman School District that has also lasted 30 years. More recently they provided seed money to launch the wildly successful Coastline Children’s Film Festival in Berrien County, MI.

Two years ago Virginia and Harvey began the Virginia and Harvey Kimmel Family Grant Program to encourage mature organizations to engage Philadelphia-area students in new and creative ways by providing multi-year grants. These grants have included STAMP, a program run by the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, which allows Philadelphia high school students one year of free admission to 12 of the city’s top museums and attractions. The Virginia and Harvey Kimmel Action Chat Stations at the Philadelphia Zoo and the Wilma’s Build the Audiences of Tomorrow program have also received grants from this new initiative. Virginia and Harvey also provide leadership and governance as board members for such organizations as Arden Theatre Company (Virginia), Philadelphia Art Alliance (Virginia), and Philadelphia Zoo (Harvey). Virginia and Harvey have two daughters, Jennifer and Sara, and one granddaughter, Karmen.

The Bearded Ladies Cabaret is a troupe of cabaret artists who insist that art can be both intellectual and accessible, entertaining and meaningful, stupid good and just plain stupid. They fuse cabaret and theater to tackle the politics of gender, identity, and artistic invention with sparkle and wit. Past shows have included Beards are for Shaving: A 007 Cabaret, Marlene & the Machine: A German Expressionist Cabaret, and Wide Awake: A Civil War Cabaret. For the Fête, they will be previewing music from their brand new show Andy: A Popera.

Current sponsors include, as Presenting Sun Sponsors: Ernst & Young LLP and General Econopak; as Orion Sponsor: Ted and Stevie Wolf; as Cassiopeia Sponsors: The Philadelphia Foundation; as Taurus Sponsors: The Baxter Family Foundation, The Connelly Foundation, Virginia and Harvey Kimmel, and The Sam and Charles Foundation; and as Pegasus Sponsors; Abbot Downing, Carole Haas Gravagno, The Hamilton Family Foundation and Saul Ewing LLP.

Honorary Committee members include R. Andrew Swinney, Jack Adler, Jim Baxter, John T. and Carrie L. Boxer, Nancy Burd, Robert Capanna and Cathryn Coate, Mark and Tobey Dichter, Jack Ginter, Linda and David Glickstein, Carole Haas Gravagno, Jeffrey Harbison and Valerie Arkoosh, Nancy and Al Hirsig, Dr. Bentley and Clara Hollander, William J.D. Jordan, Herb and Sissie Lipton, Josephine C. Mandeville, Jeffrey Markowitz, Emily C. Riley, Dr. and Mrs. Alan Schreiber, Dianne Semingson, Susan Sherman, Howard and Shirley Trauger, Marty Tuzman and Eileen Heisman Tuzman, David U’Prichard, Mark and Kathi Wennell, Nancy Brent Wingo, June and Steve Wolfson, and Martin Zeldin and Karen Rosner.

Cultural Committee members include Michael Norris, Chair, Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance; Sean Buffington, University of the Arts; Christine Cox, BalletX; Kevin Glaccum, Azuka Theatre; J. Andrew Greenblatt, Philadelphia Film Society; David Jadico, 1812 Productions; Glen Knapp, Philadelphia Young Playwrights; Amy Murphy and Terry Nolen, Arden Theater Company; Jan Rothschild, The Barnes Foundation; Seth Rozin, InterAct Theatre Company; Marion Young, Art-Reach; Valerie V. Gay, Art Sanctuary; Dennis W. Creedon, School District of Philadelphia; and Sara Garonzik, Philadelphia Theatre Company. Sponsorship and Honorary Committee updates will be listed on the Wilma website.

Marlene S. Molinoff serves as Chair of the Theater Lovers Fête Committee, which includes Iain Campbell, Clare D’Agostino, Peggy Greenawalt, James Haskins, Katharine Wennell Haberek, Jane Hollingsworth, Debby Lau, Kevin Maurer, James Schneider, Annette Tobia, and David U’Prichard.

Proceeds from the Theater Lovers Fête will support the Wilma’s mission to create living, adventurous art, as well as arts education programs administered through the Philadelphia Foundation, and the STAMP program of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance.

Sponsorships, tickets, and ads can be purchased by calling 215-893-9456 x124 or at

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