News Column

'Happy Days' fundraiser set for May 11

May 2, 2013


May 02--"HAPPY DAYS AT WEST VIRGINIA PUBLIC THEATRE" is set for 7-10 p.m. May 11 at Lakeview Golf Resort & Spa. For tickets, call 304-291-4122. Tickets cost $60 per individual, $100 per couple. Hor d'oeuvres, desserts and drinks will be served. Poodle skirts, letterman jackets or other '50s attire are optional.

It wasn't until Stephanie Adlington made her way to New York City, after studying classical theater at London's Royal Academy of Music, that the Grafton native performed as part of a West Virginia Public Theatre (WVPT) production; but growing up, she had plenty of opportunity to be among the audiences at the nonprofit's summer shows.

"It's so wonderful to have a professional theater company in Morgantown," she said. "People who live in the area don't have to travel to New York or Pittsburgh to see really good theater."

And her appreciation for what WVPT offers is why the Nashville resident -- who teaches at Belmont University and continues to follow her dream of becoming a full-time professional musician -- will return May 11 to be a part of the theater's annual fundraiser, "Happy Days at West Virginia Public Theatre."

During the event, which is set for 7-10 p.m. at Lakeview Golf Resort & Spa, Adlington will perform an hour's worth of 15-minute sets scattered throughout the evening. Though she began her career in musical theater -- and was a part of WVPT's "Stand By Your Man: The Tammy Wynette S t o r y, " "Les Miserables," "Always ... Patsy Cline" and "Honky Tonk Angels" -- she has since transitioned to a different style.

"I call it Southern jazz," Adlington said. "It's vintage, and it has a standard style, but with original material."

Though she doubts she'll be performing any of that original material, she will cover -- with the help of a four-piece band -- classic standards that inspire her sound. She said she will also sing songs from WVPT productions she was a part of and her rendition of "My Home Among the Hills."

"This is not going to be a concert," she said. "We 'll be playing while people are mingling and doing other things."

The format is part of the plan for the fundraiser to provide a variety of entertainment.

"This is a little different than what we've done in the past," said WVPT Board of Trustees President Carol Rotruck. "We 'll have live and silent auctions for the first time, plenty of different entertainers, and we'll be honoring some folks. All of this combined will make for a fun evening."

Attendees are even encouraged to dress up in '50s-style garb as part of the evening's theme, though Rotruck added that "whether you're wearing a gown or blue jeans, you won't be turned aw ay. "

While the fundraiser is geared toward patrons and supporters of WVPT, it's also meant for those less familiar with what the nonprofit has to offer. Rotruck said she hopes the auction items -- which, among other things, include a timeshare in Park City, Utah, during the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, a walk on part in "Happy Days: A New Musical" and signed sports memorabilia -- will lure the community at large to see what WVPT is all about.

For 29 years, the organization has brought Broadway-style, professional musical productions to north-central West Virginia, western Maryland, and south-western Pennsylvania, most recently at the Metropolitan Theatre on High Street.

"The arts really stand out when people are moving into the area from a larger community," Rotruck said. "It's nice to have the opportunity to go to artistic events or musical theater or a museum.

"And WVPT is an economic engine that provides jobs. Materials are bought here. Housing is rented for artists. Bus tour groups come here and have dinner or lunch. WVPT continues to produce wonderful productions that everybody can enjoy."

Putting on such shows is an expensive endeavor; ticket sales cover only roughly a third of the season's costs. The rest must come from corporate sponsors, grants and the public.

"We have people who donate regularly throughout the season, Rotruck said. "But this is a way for everyone to come together, be entertained and meet other WVPT supporters."


(c)2013 The Dominion Post (Morgantown, W.Va.)

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