WCU Friends of the Arts fundraiser on April 16 to center around musical ‘Gypsy’

Members of Western Carolina University’s Friends of the Arts said they are excited to announce the organization’s annual fundraiser on Saturday, April 16, at the John W. Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center, benefiting scholarships and programming for students in WCU’s College of Fine and Performing Arts.

gypsy_logo_750This year’s event provides two opportunities to participate in fundraising activities: a free, public benefit and an invitational gala, both of which center around the Broadway musical “Gypsy,” performed by WCU students and featuring such notable tunes as “Let Me Entertain You” and “Everything’s Coming Up Roses.”

Two special guests will bring “authenticity and additional pizazz” to the evening production, said Jayme McGhan, director of the School of Stage and Screen in the College of Fine and Performing Arts. Award- winning director and Broadway producer Sarah Norris will direct the production, and John Scacchetti, who has starred with Patti Lupone in “Gypsy” on Broadway, will choreograph.

The production is expected to have “big production value,” McGhan said. “This production of ‘Gypsy,’ bringing the experience of Norris and Scacchetti together with the talent of our students, will wow viewers with as much talent, emotion and stage presence as the big Broadway version,” McGhan said.

The evening’s events leading up to “Gypsy” are two-fold, featuring a benefit and a gala, both with multiple opportunities to participate in fundraising activities with a wide variety of special prizes.

The benefit, free and open to the public, begins at 5 p.m. with a silent auction, wine cork pull, raffle, appetizers and cash bar. Tickets for “Gypsy” are $25 for adults, $20 for seniors, and $10 for students.  Curtain is 7:45 p.m. Tickets are available through the Bardo Arts Center box office by calling 828-227-2479 or by visiting foa.wcu.edu.

The invitational gala also begins at 5 p.m. with a complimentary cocktail hour, silent auction, wine cork pull and raffle, followed by a gourmet dinner and live auction at 6 p.m., plus premier seating for “Gypsy” at 7:45 p.m. Tickets for the gala are $125 per person and are available by invitation only due to limited seating. To request an invitation, call 828-227-7028 or visit foa@wcu.edu.

The public silent auction will include an opportunity to bid on unique offerings from the university and local communities, including wine and beer tastings, fishing trips, gardening supplies, fine art and crafts, jewelry, performance packages and more, event organizers said.

“This year’s raffle is an extraordinary collection of arts, cultural, sporting, and one-of-a-kind events that showcase the outstanding work of students at Western Carolina University,” said Connie Haire, chair of the event’s raffle committee. “The lucky winner will receive 2016-2017 season tickets to more than 20 campus arts and sporting events, chancellor’s box seats at WCU home football games, a faculty-selected student art piece and a $500 cash card for personal use.”

Haire said the raffle planning team is excited to be able to offer items featuring the talent of WCU students, while directly supporting those same students through funds raised. “We are very fortunate to be able to contribute to students’ educations while in turn offering the winner an up-front seat to see those students’ talents showcased,” Haire said.

Raffle tickets are $25 each, or five for $100. Raffle winners will be announced at “Gypsy” and tickets can be purchased anytime leading up to the event through the Bardo Arts Center box office at 828-227-2479.

WCU’s Friends of the Arts is currently celebrating its fifth year, and since its inception has raised more than $870,000 in support of WCU’s College of Fine and Performing Arts, more than $100,000 of which was raised at last year’s spring benefit alone. Members are hoping this year’s benefit will bring the organization to its year-end goal of $1 million in funds raised.

Friends of the Arts holds two events per year – the spring benefit and a fall membership drive concert. Friends of the Arts offers multiple levels of membership for anyone wishing to provide support throughout the year. More information can be found at foa.wcu.edu.