Uniting Pride, Station Theatre prepare for first Love Fest

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Photo Courtesy of Nicole Frydman

Nicole Frydman and Charence Higgins rehearse for Uniting Pride’s first Love Fest. The cabaret style show will take place Friday and Saturday at the Station Theatre in Urbana.

By Kylie Corral, Staff Writer

For the first time ever, Love Fest is coming to Champaign-Urbana for Valentine’s Day.

Nicole Frydman, director of operations for Uniting Pride of Champaign County said Love Fest is a cabaret benefits show in partnership with the Station Theatre, a local nonprofit organization in the C-U area.

Frydman said she hopes that this first Love Fest will become an annual tradition that will grow bigger with each future Valentine’s Day.

“We’re going to be singing about different kinds of love, different moments of love, different types of love, different experiences around love, but all of it will be a celebration, the joy and the universality,” Frydman said.

She also said that Uniting Pride has felt the challenge the pandemic has brought along with it, making the organizations work harder to contribute to the community.

Support groups, for example, had to go online to continue to serve those in the community, especially in a time when they needed community and support the most. 

Frydman said Uniting Pride has adjusted to the pandemic with strict regulations on how to gather for an event, such as the pride fest.

“It ended up being a real positive thing because people kept telling us how the strictness of our COVID-19 policies made them feel safe to come and attend,” Frydman said.

Frydman also said that it can often be forgotten how much work still needs to be done around LGBTQ+ issues, especially with recent statistics that say last year was the worst for anti-LGBTQ+ legislation.

“It really does matter to be out and proud in our communities, especially around Valentine’s Day,” Frydman said, “The Love Fest is a ridiculous list of talent. It’s going to be a really fun show.”

Kendall Jeonson, president of the board of directors for the Station Theatre, will be teaming up with Uniting Pride for this first Love Fest. 

Jeonson was a founding member of Uniting Pride in 2009 and said when Fydman brought the idea to the Station, he loved it. It’s been very special to him working on something that benefits both organizations.

COVID-19 hit the Station Theatre pretty hard with limiting the theater to a few virtual performances, Jeonson said, so he’s excited to work on something live.

“Love Fest will be the biggest event we’ve had in the theatre in a couple years now, and I’m just super excited to get people in the seats again and entertained,” Jeonson said.

The president of each organization will be singing a song for the Love Fest, and he said he himself is looking forward to singing on stage for the first time in nine years.

We will be showcasing stories from every part of our community,” Jeonson said. “The Station Theatre hopes to open our doors and show that the entire C-U community is welcome and that everyone has a chance to see their lives, their stories onstage.”

The Love Fest will be a fundraiser that will help support both Uniting Pride and the Station Theatre from the hard hits of COVID-19.

He said Love Fest will bring the C-U community together and reignite a sense of hope and love after and during the ongoing effects of COVID-19, and that he would love to see the Love Fest become an annual event.

This event will show that Uniting Pride and the Station Theatre are both still open, still working and still welcoming people into our communities,” Jeonson said.

Love Fest will be taking place Friday and Saturday at the Station Theatre in Urbana. Tickets are available on Uniting Pride’s website and streaming tickets are available as well, both a limited amount.

All performers will be tested beforehand, along with being vaccinated and boosted. Attendees must show proof of vaccination and booster shots if applicable.

 

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