Originally Published: May 3, 2012 12:01 a.m.
This one night, the show will go on for one particular person, long-time Prescott resident Monica Kaplan.
Kaplan is recovering from a double-lung transplant that took place March 2 at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix. In view of medical bills facing the Kaplan family, several of their friends are throwing their support behind her now as a show of appreciation for all she has contributed to children's theater in Prescott. The curtain goes up on the "Benefit Concert for Monica Kaplan and Family" at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Trinity Presbyterian Church, 630 Park Ave. in Prescott. The doors open at 6 p.m. Donations of any amount are welcome.
Organizers of the production - Joanne Roberts, Trisha Champlin, Julie Aranda and Debbie Place - will bring to the church's Park Avenue Theater stage nearly 30 children and teenagers who will perform a wide variety of songs and dances for a person they consider a special friend.
Twenty years ago, Kaplan was diagnosed with lupus, an autoimmune disease that, for the most part, manifested in skin rashes. Then, five years ago, the disorder began to affect her lung function, so much so that she needed to be on oxygen in order to breathe comfortably.
That changed on March 2 with her double-lung transplant surgery. She received a call at 1:30 p.m. that day to go to Phoenix as quickly as possible, because doctors told her they believed they had the best match possible for her. The seven-hour surgery began at 10:30 that night and, three weeks later, Kaplan was on her way home.
Today, she is thrilled by "not having to wear" the oxygen tank anymore. "I am out and about, running errands" and managing family life, with her husband, Brad, daughter, Rachel, and son, Trevor. "The lungs are working really well for me."
Her doctors have placed no restrictions on her at this point, she said. "I am back to driving and enjoying being able to get out without tiring so easily."
Daughter Rachel has long been active in local youth musical productions, first with the Young Star Musical group and more recently Park Avenue Theater, which is sponsored by Trinity Presbyterian Church. Kaplan has been a loyal supporter and volunteer, and, despite her illness, was instrumental in helping with the theater's production of "Into the Woods Junior" this past February, Roberts said. "She spent hours working on the program even though she was not feeling well. She's a remarkable woman."
Roberts, Place, Champlin and Aranda put their heads together and asked, "What can we do for the family?" Roberts said. "It was such a natural progression for the kids to use their talents for the Kaplans."
"She had been really supportive of the kids in musical theater," Aranda said. "Even though she was sick, she was doing the work from home. We wanted to give back to her with kids who adore her."
The children in the show are musical theater regulars and will be joined by youngsters from Summer's Danceworks and the Dance Studio of Prescott, who will be performing "Purple People Eaters" and "Count on Me," respectively, said Place, who is Park Avenue Theater's music director.
The play bill also includes group songs from the theater's productions of "Into the Woods Junior" and "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown," as well as such show tunes as "Annie," "Once Upon a Mattress," and "Annie Get Your Gun."
Kaplan is "excited" about the concert that will benefit her and her family. "It's so special that I have friends who would do this for me. I am rich in friendship."
"Every penny" will go to the Kaplan family, Roberts said of Saturday's concert. In addition an account to accept donations has been established at the National Bank of Arizona. Those interested may make contributions to the Monica Kaplan Medical Account at any of the bank's branches.