Winter Rhythm

Paul ‘Ellie’ Pittenger, a member of the Screen Actors Guild since 1986, will perform during Playhouse 211’s Winter Fundraiser. Courtesy photo

Paul ‘Ellie’ Pittenger, a member of the Screen Actors Guild since 1986, will perform during Playhouse 211’s Winter Fundraiser. Courtesy photo

What: Winter Fundraiser
When: Friday, January 25
Where: Playhouse 211
4320-100 Southport-Supply Rd.
St. James, NC
Cost: $12-15
Info: www.playhouse211.com

Once the cheer of the holidays has withered away, we’re left with the less glamorous cold and dreary winter months: January and February. Without a few feet of fallen snowflakes, our seasonal wonderland is filled more with bone-chilling rain. Even with the promise of a new year, January can leave folks feeling a little drab.

Thankfully, Playhouse 211, St. James’ premier non-profit theatre, will excite and delight us with its first annual Winter Fundraiser this month. Disguised as a Mardi Gras party turned variety show and silent auction, the event will bring necessary monies to the venue as well as brighten the season for theatre-goers.

The 81-seat venue opened with its first show in 2010. Since, Playhouse 211 has provided the area over 200 performances, from  award-winning plays and musicians to local non-profit dance troupes and the Brunswick Little Theatre company. It’s also hosted acting, production, and writing classes, plus instrumental and recording classes, in recent years.

“Playhouse 211 has a central location that draws from both retirees that want to learn new talents as well as children that are growing up in the predominately rural setting,” executive producer Richard D’Anjolell explains. “There are very few cultural outlets available, and Playhouse 211 is the only venue of its kind that can nurture the creative arts for the youth in the area. Our mission is to build on Brunswick County’s love and thirst for the arts, and to produce the most entertaining and relevant plays and other performing arts possible.”

D’Anjolell says the programs benefit from area residents who possess impressive backgrounds in all aspects of the arts. “Playhouse 211 has an active volunteer base of mostly retirees that are looking to give back to the community and share their expertise with both children and adults,” he tells. “The teachers have diverse backgrounds and a great deal of success in their own right.”

Playhouse 211 relies so heavily on volunteers, and the non-profit theatre only began fund-raising in this format this summer. With enough funds, Playhouse will be able to provide live streaming of its programs on the web, plus more classes in 2013. “In addition to plays, Playhouse 211 plans to show foreign films, host music groups, chamber music, musicals and dances,” D’Anjolell shares. “[We] welcome input from our local community to provide the very best in education support and learning.”

The first annual Summer Fundraiser focused solely on musical performances, featuring local blues legend Dennis Walton and his band, and New Jersey-based singer/songwriter Crawford Boyd. In the fall, Playhouse reprised its show with the addition of stand-up and skit comedy.

“The first annual Winter Fundraiser and silent auction continues to build on the previous quarterly fund-raising events,” D’Anjolell details. “We have many more actors wanting to participate; I think [it will be like] Carol Burnett meets Monty Python with a dash of Broadway for whimsy, while covered under the canapé of New Orleans works.”

The event will showcase some regionally renowned acts, such as Paul “Ellie” Pittenger who has been involved in local theatre and minor film work since the early ‘80s. Actors Pete McLintock and Doug McKenna, as well as actresses Rasa Love and Gillian Carney, will perform. Even D’Anjolell and some surprise guests will grace the stage at Playhouse.

The silent auction will offer various film memorabilia, including photos from “I Know What You Did Last Summer.” Folks will also be able to bid on T-shirts from the celebrated bluegrass band L Shape Lot, and bottle sweater-koozies from Freaker USA.

Guests are encouraged to don their best Mardi Gras costumes, and a prize for best dressed may be thrown into the mix, D’Anjolell hints. Beer, wine, other beverages and snacks will be sold in the lobby for folks to enjoy during the show, which will run from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. with a brief intermission. Doors will open at 6 p.m.

Tickets for the fund-raising event are $12 for general admission and $15 for orchestra seating (the first four rows with wider seats and more leg room). All tickets can be purchased at www.playhouse211.com and, if not sold out, at the door the night of the show. The theatre is handicap-accessible, and assistance is available for anyone needing it; just call in advance to inform the venue.

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