Cast has a ball with 'Cinderella

Once upon a time (about 12 years ago), the Aiken Kidney Benefit staged a musical to raise money for kidney patients.


People came from across the kingdom to see Fiddler on the Roof. Since then, the group has performed Oliver, The Wizard of Oz, Guys and Dolls, The Music Man and other musicals.

All the fair maidens -- and everyone else -- are invited this weekend to the URS Center for the Performing Arts for the opening of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella: Enchanted Edition.

Debbie DiBona and her husband, Frank, a nephrologist for CSRA Renal Physicians, founded the Aiken Kidney Benefit to help dialysis patients with their everyday needs.

"The money raised doesn't pay for the dialysis itself. A social worker might call (the kidney benefit) and say that a patient needs gas money to get to dialysis, or grocery money, and we help them with that," she said.

Everyone involved is a volunteer, even the musicians in the orchestra.

In addition to being secretary of the benefit board, DiBona likes to help with the shows, whether backstage or on stage. She doesn't get a break when her husband directs, though.

"I have to audition just like everyone else," she said. This year, she portrays the Evil Stepmother.

High school senior Breanna Burkes has been in every show for five years. This year she plays the title character.

"I love the rush I get from performing in front of a live audience," she said. "Cinderella has been so much fun, and I love getting to work with new people."

Ali McCormack has wanted to perform in a benefit show for several years because her mother is a dialysis nurse. Playing the stepsister Joy has been a good release for her.

"I've enjoyed being able to be loud and obnoxious in every single way," McCormack said.

DiBona said the title Cinderella might be misleading: "People might think it's only for kids. But this show is very funny, and adults will enjoy it, too."

If you go

WHAT: Aiken Kidney Benefit production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella: Enchanted Edition

WHERE: URS Center for the Performing Arts; 126 Newberry St. S.W., Aiken

WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday and March 27; 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and March 27 and 28

COST: $22 matinees, $24 evenings; available at box office; (803) 648-1438,