Playhouse Merced to hold annual gala

08/08/2014 12:00 AM

08/07/2014 4:38 PM

The golden age of Las Vegas entertainment will come alive in Merced on Aug. 16, as Playhouse Merced brings out the “Rat Pack” and other dynamic entertainers to celebrate its Annual Gala in grand fashion.

The event is Playhouse Merced’s largest fundraiser of the year, supporting the theater’s diverse community programs. The gala will be 6:30 to 11:30 p.m. outside the 510 Bistro in Bob Hart Square in downtown Merced.

The gala will have a Vegas-style “A Night at the Sands” theme, with actors portraying figures from the Rat Pack, including Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. and Dean Martin.

Other historic entertainment figures expected to drop by during the night will be performers playing blues great Etta James, legendary talk show host Johnny Carson and singer Nancy Sinatra.

Robert Hypes, Playhouse Merced’s artistic director, said the evening program will include a 45-minute show with performers portraying the Rat Pack during their heyday, with a selection of famous songs from the period.

Hypes said the theater always tries to choose an interesting theme every year for the gala.

“It’s one of the most important events we do all year,” he said. “It’s really festive, really fun and a great opportunity to support the Playhouse.”

While the funds from the gala help Playhouse Merced put on its productions throughout the season, the money also helps the theater with its community programs. For example, Playhouse Merced has theater classes, after-school programs and tour programs for elementary schools. The volunteers and staff often visit the schools and perform theater for the children.

Hypes said those school visits are often the children’s first encounters with live theater.

In addition to Las Vegas-style entertainment, the gala will also include a silent auction. Some of the items up for auction include:

• A wine and appetizer tasting with UC Merced Chancellor Dorothy Leland.
• A weekend in the Pajaro Dunes.
• A bottle of Screaming Eagle wine.
• An estate plan, courtesy of Berliner Cohen Attorneys at Law.
• A murder mystery dinner, to be performed in front of the winner and 19 of their friends.
• A weekend in Capitola.

Tickets for the gala are $75 each; a table of eight costs $750 and a table of eight VIPs is $1,000 (the VIP fee includes dinner, drink tokens, season flex-passes and advertising in the gala program).

Tickets can be purchased at Playhouse Merced, 452 W. Main St. or by calling (209) 725-8587.

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