By Pete Zamplas
Flat Rock – Flat Rock Playhouse (FRP) apprentices from over the past 60 years will perform in a virtual cabaret Monday, Aug. 3 in a major fundraiser for the state playhouse.
The ticketed show starts at 6 pm. The cost to secure the online viewing link is $50 per household/home viewing party. A $75 or greater donation gets the patron a gourmet vegetarian boxed dinner for two. The meal will be delivered by a FRP rep to the patron’s door on Aug. 3, abiding by “contact-less delivery guidelines.”
Registration completion includes paying either online via Vimeo, by phone (693-0731), or else by mailing a check by this Friday. Once registration is complete, the patron gets a link to use to watch and hear the show. A confirmation email will be sent.
The FRP pledge is “We will provide information on setting up your computer or television to best view this production, as well as offer day-of (event) support by phone.”
“Proceeds directly support Flat Rock Playhouse by maintaining our iconic 14-acre historic property, safeguarding the return of Broadway-quality entertainment, and ensuring future access to arts education in our community,” Producing Artistic Director Lisa K. Bryant said in one of several press releases promoting the event. “Together, let’s keep the lights on and Vagabonds at the ready until we can once again open our doors to the public.”
The donation options online allow the donor to customize the contribution amount at or beyond the $50 (Apprentices Plugged In is the option to choose, from the drop-down menu) or $75 (via Apprentice Plugged-In HC Resident) minimal amounts. Also, a separate donation can be earmarked for the general annual fund, scholarship fund, or patron membership purchase.
FRP Development Mgr. Olivia Palmer is overseeing this fundraiser.
The apprentice event often sells out, when performed live in the “Barn.”
The apprenticeship period is 1960-2019. FRP administrators indicated some earlier apprentices will be in the show. There were no apprentices this year, with the cancellation of the 2020 season.
The cabaret enables “the Vagabond Family of patrons and performers to stay connected,” Bryant said.
Many former apprentices are current stars on stage, or behind the scenes. Special appearances will be from the likes of Bryant, veteran comical thespians Scott Treadway and Paige Posey, and longtime set designer Dennis C. Maulden.
Patrons Charlotte and Robert Otto are primary sponsors.
The one-night-only event is a follow-up to free online video performances by FRP celebrities in the spring. Most were in April.
That was much earlier into the pandemic and ongoing statewide ban against the operation of playhouses, cinemas, and clubs not licensed enough as a restaurant. Those videos were linked to FRP’s Facebook page.
Bryant stated at the time how not being able to perform live in person is frustrating, but of greater concern is the “unsettling” phase medically and financially. “We’re all sequestered. We can’t produce for you, right now” but are “staying positive.”
The playhouse can ease matters with a quest to “entertain you, lift you up,” she added. Meanwhile, she noted how Playhouse staffers led by Resident Costume Designer Ashli Arnold sewed face masks in the spring for local hospital caregivers to use.
Looking ahead, playhouse administrators surveyed the public about their views once the state allows the theater to reopen and what sanitary precautions would make them feel comfortable enough to show up in person.
The online survey began in May. First, more than half (56 percent) of respondents said they would again see a show in person “as soon as venues are deemed safe to reopen” by the state.
In contrast, 24 percent would wait until “when coronavirus treatment/vaccine is (readily) available.”
Several sanitary protocols were cited as making patrons more likely to return to FRP. They include daily disinfection (77 percent), hand sanitizer stations (68%) at FRP for patrons, social distancing measures (66%), with fewer pointing to FRP requiring patrons and its staff wear masks on the FRP campus.
Sixty-two percent said they would continual safe social distancing practices after the ban on theaters is lifted.
Finally, 85 percent plan to spend as much as usual on live entertainment once it resumes.
“We take your feedback very seriously,” Bryant stated. “As we look toward the future of theatre and live entertainment, we are carefully considering the concerns and hopes of our patrons. We look forward to a time when we can welcome you safely back to the Rock.”
Call the FRP box office at 693-0731 Monday through Thursday, 10-4, to register for the show Aug. 3 or get mail-in or online registration tips.