The cast of the Orange Community Players annual “Fun for Funds” production prepares for rehearsal on Tuesday night in advance of the opening night performance on June 9 and continue through June 11. Pictured, from left to right, are Mike Hennigan, Paul Burch, Kimberly Manning, Laura Bergeaux, Callie Nelms, Joyce Henry, Tena Sanford, Michael Hudnell, Judy Smith, Rhys Howeth, Keri Foreman and Bob Manning.
By Tommy Mann Jr. – For The Record
A local theater group is going country for its annual fundraiser, which will be held this month.
The Orange Community Players will hold its 12th annual fundraiser at 7:37 p.m., Thursday, June 9, through Saturday, June 11, at The Playhouse, located at 708 W. Division St. in downtown Orange. Tickets for the all ages event are $25 per person.
This year’s theme for the annual OCP fundraiser is “A Night at the Grand Ole Opry,” which is very different from previous year’s events which have focused on Broadway musicals, Hollywood and even music from the 1980’s.
“The ‘Broadway Fun for Funds’ event was great and really successful, but you can only do those Broadway songs so many times,” said Codie Vasquez, co-director of this year’s event with Paul Burch. “We decided to change the event a couple of years ago so we can cover different genres of music and improve the experience for the audience and for the volunteers.”
A special addition to the event this year will be the inclusion of Bob and Kimberly Manning, who are the co-owners of the independent record label, Bourbon Haze Records.
According to a press release, Kimberly and Bob are both accomplished singers, songwriters and performers. Kimberly has several albums to her credit on the Heart of Texas record label and the Bourbon Haze label, and Bob is currently producing the “Bob Manning and the Honky Tonk Road Show.”
Bob and Kimberly are both featured performers on the road and show and they have several years experience working in Nashville with major country artists and producing shows for “The Nashville Scene,” an informative entertainment website detailing the happenings in and around Nashville.
Kimberly will be one of the many featured performers at the OCP’s “A Night at the Grand Ole Opry” event, while Bob will serve at the Master of Ceremonies as he delivers the humor and format the Grand Ole Opry is known for over so many decades.
“We are staying pretty classic to what the Grand Ole Opry was all about,” Vasquez added. “It was artists like Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Johnny and Jean Cash, Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn and Merle Haggard, along with so many others, that made the Grand Ole Opry so memorable. We are really relying on the Mannings’ and their knowledge of the Grand Ole Opry for this event.”
The purpose of the annual event is to raise funds for the local community theater group as it continually strives to improve its facility as something at the building is in need of repair or replacement.
“The money we raise from this event always goes to the building fund,” Vasquez explained. “Our shows throughout the year don’t pay for it. We are lucky just to cover the show expenses with that money. We need the additional funds to keep the building maintained and running, and that is what this fundraiser helps us do each year.”
The first fundraising event, “Broadway Fun for Funds,” was held in 2004 with a cast of approximately 20 people. In recent years, OCP has ventured away from the “Broadway Fun for Funds” theme to expand the event and incorporate other types of entertainment, such as ’80s music and attire as did the highly popular 2015 fundraising event.
“Country music is such a big part of our way of life in this area, so it made sense to do this event for our theme,” Vasquez said. “Plus, we are getting so many volunteers and musicians involved who might not normally be part of a live theater production. We think it is something that everyone will enjoy.”
Guests will be treated to hors d’oeuvers prior to the start of the performance beginning at 7 p.m., nightly, and during intermission. This includes beverages such as soft drinks, punch and wine.