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Theatre Albany fundraiser revisits Summer of Love

Carlton Fletcher

carlton.fletcher@albanyherald.com

ALBANY — Participants in the Summer of Love and those who wish they’d been there: It’s time to get your tie-dyed T-shirts, your bellbottoms and all those old peace medallions out of storage.

Theatre Albany will revisit the days of peace and love Saturday when it hosts the “Woodstock: Next Generation” fundraiser at Albany’s historic Shackleford House.

From 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., supporters of Theatre Albany will let their freak flags fly as they enjoy the music of The Grapevine Band and get in touch with their inner hippie.

“We had five musical acts scheduled to play at our fundraiser last year, and I said, ‘With all these bands playing, we might as well call it Woodstock’,” Theatre Albany Director Mark Costello said. “It kind of took off from there. We had tie-dyed table cloths, the waiters and waitresses dressed as hippies and we did ‘60s trivia.

“It went so well — everyone who came said they had such a good time — we decided to do it again this year.”

Dr. Jose Tongol will serve as opening act for The Grapevine Band, one of Georgia’s best-loved party bands, during an evening that will include a dinner catered by Lynn Mertins, a silent auction and a cash bar.

“What I really love about our theater is that it’s a true community theater,” Theatre Albany Board President Jan Malsky said. “We don’t have the huge corporate sponsors like they do in some larger cities, so we need involvement from all segments of the community. And this fundraiser is set up so that everyone in the community can take part.

“People who have a little more money can spend $500 and get a table for eight that includes wine and appetizers as well as the dinner. For those who can’t spend as much, the general tickets are $40. They can bring their own chair and still have a great meal and enjoy the entertainment.”

Costello said he hopes the Woodstock: Next Generation fundraiser will remind local arts enthusiasts and others what the theater, which is in its 80th year, means to the community.

“Don’t get me wrong, we have some very generous donors in our community,” he said. “But if we sold every ticket for our productions, we wouldn’t have to hold fundraisers. Our tickets are very reasonable; there’s no reason we can’t fill those seats.”

Malsky, a graduate of Dougherty High School, said she hopes to see more younger theater enthusiasts getting involved in Theatre Albany.

“Hollywood has done a disservice to community theater,” she said. “Because there are no dramatic special effects, the younger generation misses out on the meaning of live theater. Live theater moves you the way no movie ever could; it’s real-life drama.

“My husband (Dr. Paul Malsky) is from New York, and we’ve been to theater productions on Cape Cod. Those actors are paid big bucks, and (Paul Malsky) agrees that they’re no better than the volunteer actors we have here. The amount of work (local actors) put into our productions is amazing to me.”

Costello said he hopes to have at least a rough plan for Theatre Albany’s 80th season put together by Saturday’s fundraiser.

“I’m reading scripts like crazy,” he said.

Theatre Albany will close out its current season with its production of “The Dixie Swim Club,” which premieres May 31 and runs through the next two weekends.

Reservations for tickets to Woodstock: Next Generation may be obtained by calling (229) 439-7193 or online at www.theatrealbany.com. Tickets may be purchased at Who’s Who or at the theater box office weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Shackleford House is located at 1801 Dawson Road.