It was a sparkling night of music, theater and old friends coming together at the 15th annual Winter Gala for the Spindrift School of Performing Arts last Thursday.
The event is a combination “thank you” to supporters, fundraiser, and preview of the school’s winter show, which this year is the musical “Mamma Mia.”
The evening started with Mediterranean-themed hors d'oeuvres and drinks in the school’s main room. Flowers and lighting created a festive atmosphere, and the jazz combo of Alex Bootzin on piano and Luke Doughty on guitar entertained guests as they ate and mingled.
There were frequent hugs and exclamations of delight as people greeted new arrivals. Many of the guests had been coming to these galas for years as their children attended the school’s various music, dance and theater programs.
The event was clearly a community affair. Former parents and students were there as volunteers, circulating with trays of food. The repast was prepared by chef Ann Rudorf, who has catered the gala since it began in 2007 and whose daughter also grew up in the program.
“We love this event,” said Suzette Germano, attending with daughter Avery Northrop. Northrop was an SSPA theater and dance student from age 3 through high school. Germano, who had herself been a theater kid, served on the school’s board for seven years. “I just hope these kids will grow up to be the next generation,” she said.
Many of the board members are parents of the school’s students. “We’re here all the time anyhow,” said Rebecca Marinos, president of the board. “It really does take a village.”
Pianist Bootzin and his wife founded the school in 1994. He is currently an instructor and Director of Music. Doughty is also a longtime instructor. On one number, they backed up young Falcon Franco as he belted out “Revolting Children” from the musical “Matilda.” (Franco, who is 8 years old, was supposed to sing it in the school’s fall production, but lost his voice.)
“Tonight we say ‘Thanks!’ to our donors. Without them, we wouldn't be here,” said Marinos to the guests. Items for a silent auction, arrayed on a table, were part of the school’s fundraising campaign, which will run through Dec. 18. Organizers hope to raise $50,000 for scholarships and program development.
For part two of the evening, guests walked through the drizzle across to the Spindrift theater. There, Gary Ferguson, the school’s new artistic director, introduced the winter play. The gala traditionally acts as a dress rehearsal for the winter show. Opening night was the following evening.
This year’s play, “Mamma Mia,” is built around songs by the Swedish pop band ABBA. Two separate casts of 29 actors each will perform between now and Dec. 23. Tickets are available at the SSPA website, spindriftschool.org/tickets.
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