On Stage Live variety show aids fight against multiple sclerosis

Ventriloquist Teddy Davis, pictured here with Roscoe, will perform at On Stage Life 2010, a show he put together to benefit multiple sclerosis research after his wife, brother and sister-in-law were diagnosed with the disease.

First, his sister-in-law was diagnosed. Then his brother. And then his wife, Cindy, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

By that point, Teddy Davis and his family had a choice: They could plunge their heads deeply into the sand, or they could make a clear-eyed assessment of the situation and then do something about it.

“So, it was like, OK, there’s no point in just sitting around and watching all this happen,” he explained. “Let’s make a difference, let’s see if we can find a cure for this disease. They need money? OK, let’s see if we can raise some money.”

Davis, who lives in Aspen, organized On Stage Live three years ago. It’s a variety show with proceeds going to multiple sclerosis research. On Friday, Nov. 26, On Stage Live 2010 will come to Grand Junction’s Avalon Theatre.

With more than 25 years in show business, as a cabaret entertainer and ventriloquist, Davis has a deep roster of friends from whom he could draw performers for On Stage Live. Friday’s show will feature Kenny “The Professor” Watson, a multi-instrumentalist who, with the On Stage Live Band, will perform songs ranging from “Ants Marching” by the Dave Matthews Band to a “Flight of the Bumblebee”/“Hava Nagila” medley melded with “Orange Blossom Special.” While he performs, Carbondale performance artist Majid Kahhak will paint a portrait of Watson that will be auctioned at intermission.

Mentalist Eric Mead and Davis will round out the program.

Davis said his goal for the evening is fun and entertainment: “This is not hitting people up about the cause,” he said. “We have two auction items and that’s it. We just want people to come see a show. It’s kid-friendly, we offer student rates, it’s just a good time.”

But the fact that it is for a good cause certainly doesn’t hurt the entertainment factor. Multiple sclerosis, however, is a disease that affects a lot of people. One in every 500 Coloradoans has it, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

“It’s the disease of denial,” Davis said. “Of people that have it, the majority of them just won’t talk about it, won’t go to things to support it, nothing. They just want to pretend it doesn’t exist.

“I’ve seen people moving into the wheelchair phase and still haven’t accepted it yet.”

While his brother doesn’t talk about it much, his sister-in-law, who died earlier this year, was very open about the disease, he said. That helped his wife when she received her diagnosis.

“My wife never panicked through the whole thing,” he said. With the help of the drug Tysabri, he said, she was able to quit using a cane. “She feels great.”

Multiple sclerosis is a disease that affects the central nervous system. It interrupts the flow of information between the brain and body, with symptoms ranging from muscle weakness to an inability to walk and swallow. There is no known cause or cure, but researchers are working toward both.

“We just want to do whatever we can for MS research, to find a cure,” Davis said. “And if we can have fun, too, that’s great. We want people to come out Friday and have a good time.”

If you go

On Stage Live 2010 will debut at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 26, at the Avalon Theatre. Tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for children and students. All proceeds will go to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society for research. Tickets are available at http://www.ticketswest.com. For information, call Tricia Pallat at 271-8975 or go to http://www.cureMSco-wy.org.


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