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Best Fund-Raiser Houston 2004 -

Bayou City Concert Musicals Five years ago, Houston theater veteran Paul Hope gathered some friends and staged a nightclub production of Follies, giving the proceeds to the Center for AIDS. Since then, what's become known as the Bayou City Concert Musicals has grown into a huge gift -- not only for the center but also for Houston's musical theater fans. Under these circumstances, Hope can pay performers very little and still attract Houston's best talent. He can be a little risky in choosing what to put on, too -- in 2002, for instance, a sparkling version of Sondheim's A Little Night Music, with a large orchestra, outshone the three-piece combos many local troupes have to settle for. The only thing the organization scrimps on is the scenery, but hey -- use your imagination. In four years they've raised $77,000 for the center; this year they're leaving the nightclub behind and presenting four performances at the Hobby Center's Zilkha Hall, so the annual donation could climb to $65,000.

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