Turnage twinkles for opening party|Preshow reception begins new season

Published 5:41 pm Tuesday, September 15, 2009

By By JONATHAN CLAYBORNE Daily News Correspondent
Launching its season on a high note in a time of economic instability, the Turnage Theater hosted a glittering array of patrons Saturday evening.
Dozens of theater-goers clad in black-tie attire and formal gowns welcomed the opening of the historic theater’s doors for a new slate of shows. The party reportedly delivered on the success needed to start the season off on a high note.
Following the reception, patrons watched a musical performance by the Four Freshmen.
Roughly 220 tickets had been sold for the $70-per-ticket night, according to Scotty Henley, executive director of the Turnage Theaters Foundation.
Having that number of ticket-holders on hand ensured that the festivities were fully paid for, according to Henley.
“Obviously, we were hoping to have more,” he said during a backstage interview.
Turnage staff and volunteers labored to hold down the costs of the occasion, Henley indicated.
Past kick-off shows and parties have been referred to as galas, but this, the Turnage’s third opening night since November 2007, was billed as a “season opener,” he said.
Volunteers working during the opener not only assembled the preshow menu, but prepared the food and served it as well, Henley related.
This is part of the Turnage’s ongoing mission: to offer appealing programming but keep a close watch on the budget in tough times, board members have said.
Asked what he needs from members of the community, Henley replied, “I need them to search their conscience and reason (that) if this is a facility they really want in their community, there has to be more support for it.”
If residents would prefer to see programming that’s different than what’s being offered, Henley said he needs to know that.
As the reception wound down, foundation board member Mary Jane Cooke paused for an interview. Cooke had been carrying a tray of sandwiches to a table in the meeting area, where most of the attendees had assembled.
Volunteers had put together about 1,000 sandwiches, Cooke said as the gathering audience began filing into the theater.
“We just didn’t want them to be hungry,” she added with a laugh.
Cooke said that volunteerism is “very important” to her because she was fortunate enough to be able to retire early and wanted to give of her time.
“The Turnage is my heart,” she said. “I love it.”
Volunteers are also at the heart of the Oct. 3-set “A Lavish Night of Entertainment,” an all-volunteer presentation scheduled as a Turnage fundraiser, Cooke noted.
Nearby stood Dr. Jon Tingelstad, president of the foundation. Tingelstad declared the night “absolutely spectacular.”
The entire happening was made possible by board members and additional volunteers, he said.
Bringing in no-cost caterers saved money that otherwise would have been spent on outside catering services, Tingelstad related.
“It’s a conservative way to support the Turnage,” he commented. “Our own people have just done a wonderful job.”
Tingelstad said he is excited about the season, adding, “Scotty has put together an excellent program with relatively conservative budgets which meld the desire and appeal of so many people in Washington and Beaufort County.”