The annual fundraiser for Metropolitan Area Neighborhood Nutrition Alliance started in 1992 after a group of dancers from the Pennsylvania Ballet lost loved ones to HIV/AIDS and wanted to create a benefit to help raise awareness about the virus — and MANNA’s lifesaving work to deliver nutritional meals to those with life-threatening illnesses, such as cancer and HIV/AIDS.
The show starts at 8 p.m. March 22 at Forrest Theatre, 1114 Walnut St. It will be hosted by WXPN morning host Michaela Majoun with an after-party to follow at Pennsylvania 6, 114 S. 12th St.
New to this year’s performance will be live music played in the background while the dancers perform. Philadelphia-based singer/songwriter Joshua Thomas, along with New York City-based singer/composer Julie Hill and New York City Ballet Orchestra bassist Ron Wasserman, will provide the music.
MANNA events manager Rob Nonemacker said this will also mark the first year for an intermission, during which drag star Brittany Lynn will entertain.
Longtime producing director Ian Hussey will also return as a dancer in the program.
“Ian lets the dancers create the performances they want,” Nonemacker said. “He doesn’t put constraints on their creativity.”
The event raised $80,000 last year, and organizers are aiming for more than $100,000 this year, and a sold-out crowd.
Nonemacker said “Shut Up & Dance” will help educate the audience on the organization for which the show was created.
“Our goal is to have people leaving inspired,” he said. “This year we are including more MANNA-focused things, so we will have a good video this year and more information out there.”
Nonemacker said “Shut Up & Dance” is a unique event to Philadelphia that gives a fun twist to a benefit.
“It is just a cool experience and the dancers are just so excited,” he said. “It is really interesting to see what these dancers come up with. It is an amazing night.”
Tickets are $25-$100 and can be purchased at http://www.mannapa.org/shut-up-and-dance-2014. For more information, email Nonemacker at RNonemacker@mannapa.org or call 215-496-2662 ext. 115.