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Playhouse appeal gains momentum on line

Playhouse founder Robroy Farquhar. Playhouse founder Robroy Farquhar.

FLAT ROCK — Flat Rock Playhouse supporters continued a social media campaign to save the financially imperiled theatre, scheduling a benefit concert for Dec. 11 and urging actors, musicians and other support personnel who have been touched by the organization to donate money.

The Playhouse needs $250,000 to finish the 2012 season, Playhouse officials said this week, and it would like to raise $1 million to make the theater financially stable in 2013 and beyond.


A "Save the Playhouse" Facebook page created Thursday by Playhouse production manager Bill Munoz and others had attracted 2,300 members by Saturday morning. Hundreds of members had posted comments and shared memories of performances at the venerable theater that Robroy Farquhar founded 60 years as the Vagabond School of the Drama.
Facebook page

"We are at a crossroads," Munoz said in an appeal to Playhouse performers. "The Playhouse is facing a pretty serious situation and we are in dire need of funds. No matter what stories are out there positive or negative, we as Playhouse employees have been making strides towards getting this organization out of financial debt. However, it has not been enough. In order to finish out the year, the Playhouse needs to raise at least $250,000. We are calling on you fellow vagabonds, lovers of the playhouse, to help out in any way you can.
"Any donation is welcomed no matter how great or small! Any ideas on how to raise money are welcomed and encouraged. For example, create a dinner party, a benefit concert, bake sales, donation boxes. Anything is welcomed. I can't stress enough how important this is to maintain this organization and family that has been in existence for 60 years."
The benefit concert featuring a number of musical acts is at 7 p.m. Dec. 11 on the main stage at the Playhouse.

The effort began to show some success, with donations coming into the Playhouse, and director Vincent Marini making an appeal for donations or for cast members and others to forgo payments if they are able.

"If each person on this site makes themselves responsible for only $200 the short term problem will be solved and we will be well on our way to a long term solution," he said in a posting on the Facebook page. "That would be $467,000 and the theater would be able to effectively move into 2013. Now, I know that many people on this page are in the same profession I am in and that makes money tight. So… if you literally commit yourself to giving whatever you can AND reaching out to those closest to you to do the same until you reach $200 or more, that would literally, in a matter of days, allow us to move forward. It's so very achievable, but only if everyone plays a part. Literally everyone. One thing that might be encouraging for others is for people to post when they've hit their $200.00 goal. Make the donation online here:

Friday, Nov. 16 ...

FLAT ROCK — Flat Rock Playhouse supporters, friends and alumni from across the nation have rallied to express support for the financially imperiled theater, suggesting benefit concerts here and in New York and elsewhere and signing up by the hundreds on a Facebook page devoted to saving the organization.

The Facebook page was launched Thursday by Playhouse production manager Bill Munoz, his wife, Neela, a veteran Playhouse actor, singer and director, and Katie Mooney, of the Playhouse staff.
The Save the Playhouse Facebook page had attracted 1,316 new members by Friday morning. Some were local and many of them young actors, dancers and singers who either got their start on the stage of the 60-year-old State Theatre of North Carolina or had performed in one of its shows.
"A couple of us are on the move to organize a New York concert fundraiser! More details, hopefully, to come," one actor wrote.
The site had drawn a number of comments from those who criticized leadership changes that have taken place since the death of the second-generation director Robin Farquhar in November 2008.
"This is a good lesson in 'Don't Mess With A Good Thing'! Bringing people in who didn't have a genuine, spiritual and heartfelt connection with the Flat Rock Playhouse was a mistake," said one Facebook commenter.
Playhouse defenders, though, outnumbered the critics.
"Should we just give up and think about the good old days? If you look closely at this page, you will see that there are a ton of people willing to do whatever it takes to save this place," Munoz replied to the critic.
"What is done is done! We are trying to correct it. It has been a slow process. A collection of situations have brought us to this point. Yes. Agreed. There WAS a good thing. That leadership is NOT HERE ANYMORE!!!!!! We must move forward and look at the GOOD THINGS the new administration has brought."
Munoz said in the post that the Playhouse gambled and lost money on an original show in 2009 but also had gambled and won this year with "Zelda," the acclaimed original work that outdrew budget projections. At least three theaters have expressed interest in staging the show, Munoz said, meaning the Playhouse would see revenue.
The friends of the Playhouse and former vagabonds were talking about benefit shows in Greenville, S.C., and in New York and YouTheatre and suggesting other ways to raise money such as selling seat sponsorships.