Our new home in the Gordon Square Arts District will be the “star,” and two longtime supporters who helped make it possible will be honored, in a high-energy, red-carpet, grand-opening event this Saturday, March 21. Actors, supporters and the community will gather for Near West Theatre’s Annual Benefit and Gala from 7 to 11 p.m. in our new performance space, 6702 Detroit Ave. After years of holding our big fundraising party at such locations as Trinity Cathedral, PlayhouseSquare and the old Cleveland Play House, we can now throw what a local journalist has called “one of the most authentic, genuine and satisfying benefit events of the year” in our own new home. The theme: “No Place Like Home.”
Admission includes plentiful food, drink, dessert, dancing, a silent auction and the evening’s centerpiece: a passionate musical performance by a large, intergenerational Near West Theatre cast. Tickets, $100, benefit Near West Theatre’s mission of using theater as a process to build lives, relationships and community among diverse people of all ages. Tickets are available online in advance or can be purchased the door. They are also available by phone, 216-961-6391, until 4 p.m. Friday, March 20. The March 21 gala runs from 7 to 11 p.m.This event and the entire series of opening events and shows in our new theater are made possible by Presenting Sponsor Thompson Hine and the generous support of other season sponsors listed below.
Honorees. This year we honor longtime supporters Jim and Anne Schoff. “They first encountered Near West Theatre in 1995,” wrote founding Executive Director Stephanie Morrison Hrbek. “Anne says that is when ‘the love affair began.’ As steadfast supporters ever since, they have been pivotal in making the dream of our new home a reality. Besides their own leadership in giving, they brought us into their remarkable network of relationships, linking us to such generous supporters as Char and Chuck Fowler, Project Management Consultants through Thompson Hine, and the Barrington Wine Classic, to name just a few. They have even opened their home to us. When they lived at Barrington in Aurora, Ohio, they held special getaway parties so our young cast members could enjoy the swimming pool and other amenities there. They hosted special performances by Near West Theatre actors, where their own friends and neighbors were introduced to our spirit and mission. Jim and Anne have both served on our Board of Trustees (Jim as President, 2001-2006), as committee chairs, and as working chairs of our Annual Benefit – all the while, making connections with the people Near West Theatre. They always remind us that relationships with the children, teens, and adults of Near West are what has fueled their passion. They value hearing the stories of struggle and triumph of the people who come through our doors.
“Jim and Anne are one of those outstanding couples who have balanced raising three children – and now are enjoying nine grandchildren – while also being deeply involved as civic leaders. They both now serve on advisory boards at University Hospitals, and between them have served such organizations as the Cleveland Ballet, the Diversity Center, Western Reserve Historical Society, Cleveland Social Venture Partners, Sovereign Order of St. John, the Cleveland Play House, City Year Cleveland, and The Centers for Families and Children.”
Parking and transit information. Free valet parking will be available at the corner of Detroit Avenue and West 67th Street, and free self-parking can be found around the neighborhood the neighborhood. There’s a lot going on in the neighborhood Saturday night, so if you self-park, give yourself time to find a spot. The map below shows lots and streets where you can park free (our theater is the blue square!). You can also use the parking lots at Neighborhood Family Practice, W. 65th and Franklin; or Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, 6928 Detroit Ave., after its 6 p.m. Saturday Mass is over. Public transit is also a good option. RTA buses stop at W. 65th and Detroit: Route 26 twice each hour on Saturdays, and Route 45 once an hour. Hardy winter bicyclists will find bike racks on Detroit Avenue.
Sponsors. In addition to Presenting Sponsor Thompson Hine, the following season sponsors have also provided generous support. Patron Sponsor: Consolidated Solutions. Producer Sponsors: American Limousine, Char and Chuck Fowler, Majic Family Fund, PNC, and an anonymous donor. Choreographer Sponsors: First Federal Lakewood, KeyBank, Medical Mutual, Ray and Katie Murphy, and Panzica Construction Co. We are also grateful to the Actor Sponsors and other Season Sponsors who will be listed at Saturday’s gala.
— Hans Holznagel
Near West Theatre is grateful for ongoing operating support from the Ohio Arts Council, Cuyahoga Arts and Culture, and Greater Cleveland Community Shares, and for special support from Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northeastern Ohio for equipment used by young people in technical workshops and other backstage experiences.