benefiting the AIDS Emergency Fund for 24 years
 

Donna Sachet’s Songs of the Season
24 Years Later…

Songs of the Season began humbly in 1993 hosted by Lily’s on Market and Kimo’s on Polk Street and co-starring my singing Mr. Gay San Francisco, Scott Stewart, and a lively cast of drag queens.  From 1994-1996, partnered with my talented, singing Emperor Brian Benamati, we added Charpe’s, The Galleon, The Mint,Marlena's, Company, The Cinch, Eichelberger's, Daddy's, The Edge, and The Wooden Horse.  Philip Turner – a skilled producer of many events – saw great potential, but encouraged me to rein in this scattered event to a single location.  Philip also volunteered to be the first sponsor.

So, in 1997 Songs of the Season moved to the Transmission Theatre for two nights and Bob Ross, Paul Scudder, Marlena, Ken Turner, Don McMartin and Eric Weinmann joined Philip Turner as our first sponsors.  Even with such gracious support, I had a lot to learn about producing an event.  My dreams of generating huge sums for the AIDS Emergency Fund (AEF) faded after expenses decimated our profits.

In 1998 it was back to the drawing board, committed to Songs of the Season, but only if it could generate significant money for the cause.  We made The International Ballroom (now the Conservatory of Music) our home for 1998-1999 and added new sponsors and professional production assistance from Bob Brunson and Richard Sablatura.  We were finally raising thousands of dollars for AEF.

In 2000, Trevor Logan and The Plush Room in the York Hotel – to my astonishment – agreed to host Songs of the Season and everything took on a new level of professionalism, including Sharon McNight’s first performance with us, the first Barefoot Champagne reception, and the first Donna Sachet snow globe collectables.  We raised over $16,000 that year and again in 2001.
Songs of the Season celebrated its ten-year anniversary in 2002 at a brand new location for a single night – Ruby Skye on Mason Street.  Despite backstage challenges, the comedy, music, and a spectrum of emotions distinguished this year’s show and raised over $20,000 for AEF.

After 10 years, burnout, exhaustion, and personal challenges in the lives of many of the key players threatened to end the tradition, but Richard Sablatura stepped in to produce the event with tireless energy and heartfelt commitment.  In 2003, we returned to The Plush Room with a sold out show, added a second night in 2004 and 2005, and a third night in 2006 and 2007.  Songs of the Season continued to give our audiences the non-traditional musical celebrations they have come to expect, while consistently raising thousands of dollars for the AIDS Emergency Fund.

In 2008, the long rumored closing of The Plush Room became a reality, but Robert Kotonly and Rory Paull welcomed us to the brand new Rrazz Room at Hotel Nikko.  What better time to unveil our first puppet guest star?  We quickly settled into The Rrazz Room, continuing the tradition of Lu Conrad presents Opening Night, adding additional instruments to our band, and welcoming Abigail, Kim Kuzma, Paula West, Val Diamond, and others to our cast.  Loyal and new sponsors and an ever enthusiastic audience over 3 nights pushed income up to $30,000 in 2009 and nearly $50,000 in 2010 and 2011.

In 2012, we welcomed you to 4 nights of Songs of the Season, as always benefiting AIDS Emergency Fund, with a cast of returning favorites and a few brand new guests, the largest sponsor list ever, and a commemorative CD available in the lobby. With the generosity of our sponsors and supporters we broke all records raising almost $70,000!!  With the change of The Rrazz Room into Feinstein’s in 2013, we returned to a 2-night format and a new home, The Starlight Room of the Sir Francis Drake Hotel, and in 2014, we moved downstairs to a ballroom in the same hotel to accommodate more people and 3 nights.  Last year, 2015, continued growth encouraged us to seek a larger venue and Beatbox came to the rescue.  This popular club offered great sound and lights and Michael Loftis added beautiful holiday décor.  When Beatbox was sold in 2016, we feared the worst, but miraculously, Brian Kent of Beatbox worked out an arrangement with the new owners of the club, now Halcyon, and here we are this year with 3 nights, a great line-up, and capacity crowds.

Donna Sachet’s Songs of the Season has provided a unique, top quality holiday variety show and a dependable source of funding for the AIDS Emergency Fund for 23 years. 2016 marks the penultimate event and in 2017 we will produce the 25th and final Songs of the Season.  Yes, it represents a lot of work over the years, but also a lot of joy.

Please join us, because, as they say:  “The holidays don’t begin until you’ve seen Donna Sachet’s Songs of the Season”!

 


 

 

 

San Francisco Bay Times

Creator: Donna Sachet

Creative Director: Michael Loftis