Act Up Theatre alumni sing to raise awareness and money for suicide prevention

The recipient for the annual fundraiser holiday event, Cabaret for a Cause, was "obvious" in a year as tough as 2020.

Alex Durow is one of the featured performers for Cabaret for a Cause, an annual holiday show that this year will feature members from Act Up Theatre performing music to raise funds and awareness for American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Durow will perform an original song he wrote for a friend who died of suicide in high school. David Samson / The Forum

FARGO — Alex Durow had plans for 2020. The singer-songwriter was looking forward to playing more shows around Fargo-Moorhead and even taking his act on the road.

Like just about everyone else, Durow was grounded by the COVID-19 pandemic and had to settle for doing some streaming shows.

He has one more online show in 2020. Durow is one of a handful of Act Up alumni performing as part of Cabaret for a Cause , which is streaming Tuesday, Dec. 29, and Thursday, Dec. 31.

Act Up’s annual holiday event is an awareness and fundraiser for a nonprofit, and this year’s recipient is the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

“It instills in the Act Up alum that their talent can be used in the world to make a difference for other people,” says Jackie Shaw, who sits on the board of directors.


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Alex Church will be the live host, introducing the pre-recorded performances.

Shaw says despite the ongoing pandemic, there was never a question they would present Cabaret for a Cause this year — and the recipient was “obvious.”

“With the weight of the pandemic and job losses and all of the other problems, mental health is a huge issue and we need to be aware of it and treat it with care,” she says.

Mental health issues are something that hits home for Durow, who has dealt with depression since he was about 14.

“I think most people can relate to feeling so low at least once,” says the 22-year-old.

Not only has he suffered from his own depression, he’s had to grieve after losing a friend to suicide in high school.


“That’s the hardest thing I’ve been through,” he says. A song he wrote in memory of that friend was one of the tunes he recorded for Cabaret for a Cause.

“It’s so vital to have organizations like American Foundation for Suicide Prevention,” he says. “I think it’s personal to everyone.”

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Dealing with his depression has been a struggle these past nine months, but working toward the Cabaret for a Cause has been a real emotional lift.

“For me it’s been very therapeutic, very cathartic. This has been a good experience doing something to help.”

Durow was in Act Up’s 2016 production of “American Idiot” and says that experience helped shape him.

“I had so much fun being a part of that, I snapped at the chance to do this,” he says.

“The music will lift people up. We’ve got to do it this year more than any other,” Shaw says.


“It’s when people get together to help other people who are hurting, that’s the purest form of humanity,” Durow says. “We can all give a little bit to make it easier. Help yourself help others.”

Shaw says Cabaret for a Cause will also likely feature the announcement of the 2021 production, the first for the troupe since 2018’s “Theory of Relativity.”

She says the troupe already has Concordia College’s Frances Frazier Comstock Theatre booked, but plan B would be producing a show outside.

If you go

What: Cabaret for a Cause

When: 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 29, and Thursday, Dec. 31

Where: stream online at

Info: free to watch, but freewill donations will be accepted

For 20 years John Lamb has covered art, entertainment and lifestyle stories in the area for The Forum.
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