BY KALISHA MENDONSA
Cow Patti Theatre is hoping to draw a large crowd opening night to support a fundraising event for families of Fort McMurray affected by the devastating fires earlier this year.
It is Cow Patti’s 20th Anniversary year, and there are a number of fundraising nights, but Artistic Producing Director AnnaMarie Lea says she’s hoping the opening night will be an impactful event.
Cow Patti Theatre will be performing The Butler Did It, a fun and intricate comedy thriller which Lea says will delight audiences.
Tickets for the evening events are $70 and include a prime rib dinner with proceeds from the ticket sales going to support families of Fort Mac.
As well, proceeds from the silent auction and classic ‘Plop-Drop Competition’ will be benefiting families affected by the fires.
“At the time of the fires, we were planning our season and I knew we had to do a benefit show for Fort Mac,” Lea said.
“We will be looking into exactly where the families and town needs the money most and we will get it there. I’ve invited the mayor of Fort Mac and several other Central Alberta mayors and MPs and MLAs, hoping they will come out to support this special evening. It’s the opening night of our 20th season, and I think we can raise quite a bit of money for this cause.”
Lea said ticket sales are a little bit slower than she was hoping for at this point. She is hoping members of Central Alberta communities will pull together to support the show, specifically during this fundraising event on opening night.
“I know Alberta is going through a lot economically. Our numbers are solid, but I really want to get the awareness out that we are back and we would love the community’s support,” she said.
“If people can’t come on opening night, we’ve got several other benefits happening this season and people can choose to attend a show that supports a cause they want.”
There are a total of 16 benefit shows this season that will support a wide variety of Central Alberta programs including the Lacombe Historical Society, the Lacombe Performing Arts Centre, Kasota East Camp, A Better World and Gramma–Links Africa to name a few.
According to Lea, the benefit program with Cow Patti Theatre has raised more than $460,000 to date for numerous organizations.
In the 2015-2016 season alone, Cow Patti raised over $40,000 for student scholarships, the Lacombe Comprehensive High School volleyball team and A Better World.
She says it is important to recognize the community and understand that theatre productions are a great way to create a genuine connection in the community.
“I really measure the success of the company not by my bank account, but by the ways we can give back to our community,” she said.
“There is something very raw about live theatre, and people who participate in it. It’s about telling stories about the human condition, either through a fun-loving comedy thriller like The Butler Did It or something more profound. Theatre is about bringing people together in the moment.”
Lea has been performing and directing for nearly 30 years.
She says it is exciting to be in her 20th year with Cow Patti, but more exciting to simply be back on the stage delighting audiences.
“Theatre is very much an instant gratification. You work hard, and see the product on stage and that is great. Doing this for 20 years feels good, and we’re hoping that people will be drawn to us after seeing what we’ve been able to do over those years,” she said.
She says she’s pleased that Cow Patti has remained constant over the years in enjoying each performance to the fullest and in being able to provide high-quality entertainment to the audiences.
“It’s always been about challenging ourselves and our audiences to really do our best and create a great experience together,” she said.
The Butler Did It is an intricate performance where lead character Anthony J. Lefcourt is rehearsing his own play, a classic murder mystery with the question of ‘Who’s done it?’.
The plot is full of twists and turns as Lefcourt’s actors become confused between what is theatre and what is</s