ROCHELLE — The Vince Carney Community Theatre will host its 2022 Winter Gala fundraising event on Saturday, Dec. 10.
The event, in its seventh year, will feature the show "Miracle on 34th Street: A Radio Play,” along with a silent auction with more than two dozen items and a four-course meal catered by Flight Deck Bar & Grill. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., dinner begins at 6 p.m. and the show starts at 7 p.m.
Tickets are $60 each and can be purchased at www.vcctrochelle.org/. Tickets won’t be sold after Dec. 6 and will not be sold at the door. The dinner menu includes a charcuterie board, garlic roasted pork loin, grilled chicken, roasted potatoes, chef vegetables, salad & rolls and a dessert bar.
The proceeds from the fundraiser will help VCCT to continue to bring quality live entertainment to Rochelle and the surrounding area. VCCT Board Member Heather Arreguin said the nonprofit wants to thank its supporters with a show for their support.
“This is our big fundraiser for the year,” Arreguin said. “This helps us fund everything we do throughout the year. We rely very heavily on donors from the community. Rather than just having a fundraiser or sending a letter asking for money, we do this. Yeah, we're raising funds, but people get to come see a show and have dinner. One of my favorite parts of this is that back in the 1940s, that's what families did for fun. They'd get all dressed up and go and watch a live radio program. We have some older people that come and it takes them back to their childhood. I just think it's a fun way to raise money rather than just asking for it."
The semi-formal event will provide for an elegant evening for attendees, the show’s Director, Kimberly Ekes, said. A quintet with five members of the city’s Municipal Band will play during the dinner. "Miracle on 34th Street: A Radio Play” will be set in a 1948 radio studio and the studio actors will be portraying the movie. A sound person will do all of the sound effects on the stage.
“Everyone is running up to the microphones and chaos is happening on the stage,” Ekes said. “But everything you'll hear is Miracle on 34th Street. What you're seeing is the madness of a radio show. That's what the world was like before television. You sat around the living room with everyone and that was the entertainment. Only what you heard. It's all about the voices. We have several people playing 3-4 different parts. They change their voices to be different characters."
Dec. 10 will be the sixth time Ekes has directed a radio play. Last year, she opted to listen to the show from outside the theater and found that it sounded like a real radio show. She chose “Miracle on 34th Street” this year because it’s one of her favorite Christmas movies.
The members of VCCT are hoping the radio play will take viewers back in time.
“That was my childhood,” Ekes said. “We'd go to downtown Chicago and see the Nutcracker every year. I'd like that to be the tradition here locally with our gala. This is the seventh year we've done it and I hope it is turning into a tradition.”
Arreguin said VCCT believes it's important to give the community something unique to do around the holiday season to get into the spirit.
“Especially the last few years with everything going on with COVID-19 and the economy,” Arreguin said. “It's been hard for a lot of people. Every town has a Christmas parade and tree lighting and they're great. But this is something special to take your family or significant other to. It's a nice, unique night to feel that holiday atmosphere."
VCCT is going on its second year in its new building at 108 S. Main St. in the former Lincoln Elementary School. It has its 2023 season set and plans to announce it at the gala. Arreguin said things have been going well at VCCT and Ekes said it has been bringing in new cast members for shows.
“This will be the very first show for some of our cast,” Ekes said. “We have a whole range of people. And once you're a part of this group, you're family.”