NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

April 3, 2014

British invasion

Firehouse draws inspiration from London for spring fundraiser

By Ann Reily
Features Editor

---- — London’s Calling, and the Firehouse Center for the Arts is answering that call with its annual spring fundraiser next week.

Guests at the April 12 event will be transported from Newburyport’s Market Square to England as soon as they walk in the doors. The art gallery in the lower level will be transformed into the London Underground, complete with sound effects representing the city’s metro system.

“London is the ultimate theater city,” said Beth Falconer, managing director of the Firehouse. “After a long, long winter, we’re all dreaming of a getaway.”

Upstairs, the Arakelian Theater will host performances highlighting the Firehouse’s arts education programs, silent and live auctions, and late-night dancing on the stage. There will also be a quiz on British phrases and a photo booth complete with London-inspired props.

An English-themed menu prepared by Not Your Average Joe’s will feature fish and chips, tea sandwiches and scones, and roasted flank steak. Upon arrival, guests will be greeted with complimentary Pimm’s Cups, a popular British cocktail.

“We promise the food will be better than what their reputation promises,” said Falconer, who is co-chairing the event with Louis and Cyndi Rubenfeld.

Dressing up as a member of the royal family or other British figure is optional but encouraged, with prizes for the best hat/fascinator, best overall men’s costume and best overall women’s costume.

“As a theater, we always encourage and welcome costumes,” Falconer said. “I hear that Twiggy might be making an appearance, as well as some members of The Beatles.”

Items up for grabs in this year’s auctions include a one-week stay in a London flat courtesy of Kaitlyn Longley, who is stationed with the Navy in London.

“It’s right around the corner from Sherlock Holmes’ residence in central London,” Falconer said.

Guests will also bid on getaways to Nantucket and Maine, gift certificates to a variety of local businesses and restaurants, a commissioned work from artist Susan Spellman, and more.

The silent auction runs from 6:30 to 8, followed by the live auction hosted by Esther Sayer.

“It’s the one time a year we put on a fundraiser on our own behalf,” Falconer said. “The whole event is to celebrate the Firehouse, to celebrate our supporters.”

Proceeds from the fundraiser support the Firehouse’s programs, including its plays, School Show Series, Senior Readers’ Theater and Glee Club. The theater also hosts a number of outside concerts and performances.

“We need operating support so we can act as the important community venue for other popular events like the Literary Festival,” Falconer said.

The evening’s lead sponsors are the Institution for Savings and the Susanne Marcus Collins Foundation. Other major sponsors include the Newburyport Five Cents Savings Bank, R.D. Connors Construction and Newburyport Development.

Anyone interested in becoming a sponsor or donating an auction item can contact Falconer at beth@firehouse.org.

Weekend of dance

The Firehouse is featuring three dance performances this weekend, two by the Joppa Dance Company tomorrow and one by the Methuen Ballet Ensemble on Sunday.

Joppa Dance’s “Out of the Blue” will feature new work by directors Fontaine Dubus, Cheryl Fisher and Jen Steeves, as well as a modern repertory piece by Pam Smith. Students in grades four through 12 will participate. Shows will be presented at 6 and 8 p.m. Tickets are $14 for adults and $12 for students, seniors and members.

The Methuen Ballet Ensemble will perform the classic fairy tale “Sleeping Beauty” at 3 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $22.

If you go

What: London’s Calling, the Firehouse’s annual spring fundraiser

When: Saturday, April 12, 6:30 p.m.

Where: Firehouse Center for the Arts, Market Square, Newburyport

How much: $50

More information: 978-462-7336 or www.firehouse.org