"This is 'Happily Ever After' with three question marks. This is what happens to Prince Charming and Cinderella after the honeymoon is over," said Jim Moore, the writer and director of the 42nd annual Heart Benefit, Happily Ever After??? , which will be presented at the University of South Carolina Aiken Etherredge Center.
Moore has put together the story and filled it with a variety of songs from several decades. About 25 performers, representing an array of storybook characters, will take the stage to music with a live band. Within the ranks of the performers are members of a group called the Heart Throbs.
The event is a fundraiser for the South Carolina Chapter of the American Heart Association. Since its inception, the benefit, plus extra performances by the Heart Throbs at special events such as birthdays and weddings, have netted more than $1 million for the Heart Association, according to Moore. Last year, the total was more than $90,000.
Moore has been writing an original show for 33 years.
The fundraiser began as a fashion show, he said, but it wasn't something the men were interested in. When Moore was approached, he was asked to put on a major musical such as The Sound of Music ; however, other groups were putting on similar events for fundraisers. At the time, Moore was president of the Aiken Community Playhouse, which was also filling that bill.
"I told them I'd write a skit," he said. He also told the benefit board members that if they liked it, they would have to ask every year for his help so there would be no assumptions he would do it, and he would have no assumptions that he would be asked.
"Over the past five years, they quit asking," he said, and then laughed.
Moore said the shows often sell out. Last year, in honor of the city of Aiken's 175th anniversary, an additional night was added to the run. It was a success and has been kept for this year.