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Have a seat

By Susan Shinn
Salisbury Post
Piedmont Players Theatre invites you to have a seat on Saturday, May 3, and help name all the seats for the new Fisher Street Theater.
“Reserve a Seat for Your Kid’s Future,” a beer-and-barbecue fundraiser, is set for 6:30 to 10 p.m. at the Trolley Barn.
The event is free ó with one caveat, according to Ed Norvell, fundraising chairman.
“If you come, you’re fair game to be approached for seat naming,” he says.
The seats may be named for $1,000 each.
Norvell says that 52 of the new theater’s 250 seats have been named; he hopes more will be sold before the event.
The regular PPT fundraiser, “Night on the Stage,” is on hiatus and will return next year.
“This year, the focus is on the children’s theater,” Norvell says.
The evening will still have elements of the popular “Night on the Stage,” however, according to Betsy Mowery, PPT’s marketing director.
There will be a raffle for a trip to New York City including two round-trip airline tickets, a two-night hotel stay and two tickets to a Broadway show, based on availability.
If you make your pledge that night, you’ll also be eligible to win a Sony 32-inch LCD flat-screen television, Mowery adds.
F&M is the fundraiser’s major sponsor. Other sponsors include Ed and Susan Norvell, John and Cris Brincefield, Doran, Shelby, Pethel and Hudson attorneys and the PPT board of governors.
The evening will also serve as a reminder that PPT is wrapping up its campaign for the Fisher Street Theater.
A total of $1.75 million has been raised toward a $3 million goal. Norvell notes that the sale of the 250 seats ó $250,000 ó will push the total to $2 million.
Norvell believes that this seat-naming campaign will be just as successful as a similar campaign at the Meroney Theater.
The money may be pledged over a three-year period.
“As Paul Fisher likes to say, that’s one bottle of water per day,” Norvell says.
The building which will house the youth theater ó the site of the former Friendly Cue ó has been purchased and paid for by PPT.
Construction should start by late summer, with productions slated to begin in fall 2009.
The seat naming opportunity is the least expensive of several naming opportunities associated with Fisher Street Theater.
Stars on the sidewalk are being sold for $10,000 and $25,000.
Norvell says that 10 of the $25,000 stars have already been spoken for.
“We’ll sell them as long as we have the sidewalk,” says Reid Leonard, PPR director.
As far as the seats, Norvell expects some overlap between Meroney supporters and Fisher Street supporters.
“Just about everybody who bought seats there has bought them at the Meroney,” he says.
Leonard also expects that parents of young children will want to buy seats in honor of their family members.
The plaques have enough room for four lines of text. In the Meroney, most seats are listed simply with names.
There are a couple of sayings, too: “Break a leg!,” “Live long and prosper” (from “Star Trek”) and “To love another person is to see the face of God” (from “Les Miserables.”)
“There are a lot of people interested in supporting the theater, but they can’t give $10,000,” Leonard says. “This is an opportunity for people to support the theater.”
Seat namers have the opportunity to purchase PPT tickets before they go on sale to the general membership.
“It’s a nice perk,” Leonard says.
Norvell admits that current economic conditions have given him pause.
“The economy has given me many sleepless nights,” he says, “but we are not going to slow down with this project.”
PPT will continue to keep ticket prices steady, Leonard says. “One ticket to ‘Wicked’ in Charlotte is more than our entire season.”
He doesn’t want Piedmont Players Theatre, he says, to be considered merely “a special event,” but for people to attend every production.
Since it’s a PPT event, you can be sure there’ll be entertainment throughout the evening.
Scheduled to perform are Adam Broyles from “Seussical” and the cast of Junie B. Jones with selections from that production.
Grown-up performers include John Brincefield, Debbie Hubbard, Steve Pharr, Becky Lippard and others, who will sing a medley of tunes from recent shows.
“It’s going to be a family night, a very casual affair,” Norvell says.

“Reserve a Seat for Your Kid’s Future” is a free event, but reservations are requested. To attend, call Piedmont Players Theatre at 704-633-5471.

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