Playhouse Merced changed things up for its 2019 Gala with a new theme, loosely based on “The Sound Of Music” — a new presentation style: no auctions, just pure entertainment — and a new location: Courthouse Park in Merced.
About doing away with the silent and live auctions of past Gala fundraisers, Alyse Neubert, Playhouse Merced artistic director, explained, “We wanted people to just have a good time, and enjoy the event and the show.”
With Dennis Brown as musical director and Corey Strauss as creative director, the Playhouse entertainers embraced the new twist.
Neubert and Strauss welcomed the 400 guests in attendance after a cheerful rendition of the song, “The Sound of Music.”
Around 40 volunteers, including staff, attended to the guests’ needs by escorting them to their tables and serving them appetizers.
The enthralled theater supporters were seated at tables in Courthouse Park, shaded by trees. Relaxing, chatting or sipping a mixed drink, beer, wine or soda, they attentively listened to the costumed performers, many of whom were nuns on the steps of the “abbey”: Niecy Rae Irby, Chelsea King, Katy Uyeno, Cossette Asenjo, Claudette Asenjo, and Danielle Mendoza.
The musical numbers performed during the event were from the famous 1959 stage musical, “The Sound of Music,” composed by Richard Rodgers with lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II.
During the evening, songs such as “Do Re Mi” and “My Favorite Things” were performed with Marit Medefind as Maria Von Trapp in the role of the teacher, followed by the children, played by Carma Mize (“Liesl”), Simon Mize (“Frederick”), Autumn Bier (“Louisa”), Abigail Grattan (“Brigitta”), Nate Dimpel-Alvarez (“Kurt”), Kendall Brown (“Marta”), and Michelle Hamilton (“Gretl”).
Colton Dennis as Captain Von Trapp sang “Edelweiss”.
Other highlights of the show were “Sixteen Going On Seventeen” performed by Isaiah Flores as “Rolf” and Carma Mize as “Liesl,” “Climb Every Mountain” performed by Erin E. Connor as “Mother Abbess,” and “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?” by the nuns.
Dinner was catered by Bella Luna Bistro. The delicious meal consisted of a green salad and bread, braised boneless short ribs, Chicken Scallopini, butter-whipped potatoes, and fresh seasonal vegetables.
During the evening, Playhouse Merced Board President Matt Thompson spoke, thanking the staff, and Rhonda Batson was named Volunteer of the Year.
Lastly, the Take Your Seats fundraiser was described. Its purpose is replace the theater’s 16-year-old seats with new ones.
A pledge drive to sponsor new seats was held, and it was announced that 123 seats had been purchased at a cost of $500.
Playhouse Merced’s 2019-20 season entitled “Some Folks Dream of the Wonders They’ll Do” will open on Sept. 6 with “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”. Those interested in purchasing tickets can contact the Playhouse Merced box office at 725-8587.