You can enjoy it for one magical, fun-filled night on Wednesday, March 3 at The Herb Strauss Schoolhouse Theater's Fundraiser at South Seas Resort.

The event, called "Back To The Fabulous '50s," is from 6 to 10 p.m."/>
You can enjoy it for one magical, fun-filled night on Wednesday, March 3 at The Herb Strauss Schoolhouse Theater's Fundraiser at South Seas Resort.

The event, called "Back To The Fabulous '50s," is from 6 to 10 p.m."/> Dress up and rock the night away for the Schoolhouse Theater | News, Sports, Jobs - SANIBEL-CAPTIVA - Island Reporter, Islander and Current
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Dress up and rock the night away for the Schoolhouse Theater

By Staff | Feb 19, 2010

Pictured from left, Madison Mitchell, Debbie Klug and Jenny Smith get in character to promote the upcoming fundraiser "Back To The Fabulous 50s," presented by The Herb Strauss Schoolhouse Theater.

Who wouldn’t like to return to a time of innocence, when teenagers watched “American Bandstand,” played with hula hoops and went to sock hops? It was the decade that brought us “I Love Lucy,” Matchbox cars and Barbie dolls and it’s coming back!

You can enjoy it for one magical, fun-filled night on Wednesday, March 3 at The Herb Strauss Schoolhouse Theater’s Fundraiser at South Seas Resort.

The event, called “Back To The Fabulous ’50s,” is from 6 to 10 p.m. and will feature dancing, typical foods from that decade, contests, entertainment and plenty of surprise “fun-raiser” activities. Tickets are $150 per person.

“We like to provide people with a party, to raise money in a fun way,” said theater Marketing Director Madison Mitchell, who is also an actor and singer. “We always have games and different events.”

The theater wanted to do something different this year and move away from the usual types of fundraisers done in the past. Previous events were held at The Sanctuary Golf Club, so this year’s party was moved to South Seas. They also added an exciting $20,000 raffle.

“It’s a really great deal,” said Mitchell. “Tickets are $200, and only 300 tickets are being sold.”

Second place wins $5,000, and tickets are selling at a steady pace.

“You can buy one for yourself, for a charity, for your grandkids, or chip in with someone,” Mitchell added, who noted many purchasers are doing just that, having a lot of fun knowing their odds of winning are pretty good. Compare 300-to-1 to the 18 million-to-1 odds for a single-state lottery or the 120 million-to-1 odds for a multiple-state lottery like Powerball.

The Schoolhouse Theater lottery winner will be drawn at the fundraiser, but you don’t have to be present to win.

“This is a fun trend in the fundraising community,” Mitchell explained. “It’s a great way to raise money because people’s odds are good, everybody can participate, and it’s something different. We wanted to try it because we have a new event with a new theme.”

Raffle tickets are on sale at the theater box office, at Bank of the Islands, at the Congress Rolex Boutique next to Chico’s and at Congress Jewelers, both located in Periwinkle Place.

As if a $20,000 raffle wasn’t enough excitement, there will be singers from the theater’s musical revue, “Fly Me To The Moon: A Tribute To The Rat Pack.” That show features the music made famous by Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr. and Dean Martin.

According to Mitchell, the ballroom at South Seas will be decorated in white, silver, black and pink. The wait staff will be waiting to give guests who are encouraged to dress in 1950s-era garb their first drinks. The Schoolhouse Singers will also perform and the crowd will dance to the real music of the era as a DJ spins the tunes.

Contests will keep things exciting, but Debbie Klug, co-chair of the event, is keeping mum about the specifics. One can only imagine something to do with dancing? Hula hoops? Costumes? Another surprise will be three “large” items to be auctioned live. We don’t know who the auctioneer is, but several ’50s icons are said to be dropping by.

In keeping with the 1950s theme, meal choices at the time of ticket purchase, include:

“The Cadillac” – Grilled sirloin with double the cheese on a soft potato roll with lettuce and tomato topped with grilled onions and chili;

“Marilyn Monroe Chicken” – Grilled chicken breast served on a soft potato roll with lettuce and tomato; and

“James Dean Fish Cakes” Two individual fried fish patties served with tarter on small individual buns. All meals, of course, come with French fries.

It promises to be a true blast from the past, full of bobby sox and smiles, all for a good cause.

“In the age of TV, movies and video games, it’s nice to have something real actual actors giving you a performance,” said Jenny Smith, the theater’s jack-of-all-trades: group sales manager, house manager, stage manager, props manager and actor. “On top of that fact, in schools right now, we’re losing arts education. How will children know about theater? All of us in this theater got started in school.”

In fact, a quick Google search for arts education cutbacks shows art and music programs eliminated in schools in New York City, Dallas, Wisconsin, Rhode Island, Boston, California and many more states, including Florida.

“In this day and age, the arts are often overlooked, but really the arts are a very crucial part of society and community,” Mitchell added. “The Schoolhouse Theater has been in this community in many incarnations over the years. Theater is a different type of activity that brings family and people together. It gives people an artistic outlook that they normally wouldn’t have in their day-to-day lives.”

The theater hopes to sell 200 tickets to its March 3 fundraiser, although the South Seas Island Resort location can hold as many as 300 people. Sales have been brisk and are on target to meet their goal.

Meanwhile, the actors keep acting and the singers keep singing. “Fly Me To The Moon” is playing through Saturday, March 20, sponsored by Lily & Co. and the Bell & Beggs Team. A special performance of the show is scheduled for Tuesday, March 23 to benefit CROW; $5 from the sale of each ticket for that performance will go to the Clinic for the Rehabilitation Of Wildlife.

Following that show, on Friday, Feb. 26, for one night only, see “An Evening with Jon Weber & KT Sullivan,” sponsored by John M. and Mary Jo Boler. Tickets are $45 and include a pre-show reception at 7 p.m.

Weber is a Chicago and New York City-based jazz pianist and composer known for his range of styles and for taking requests! Sullivan is a performer with Broadway credits too numerous to list here, but including “The Three Penny Opera” and the leading role in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.”

The last show of the season will be a “big-time British murder mystery musical,” as Smith and Mitchell animatedly described it, called “Something’s Afoot.” That show will run from March 25 through April 24, and is sponsored by Congress Jewelers.

Summer season, though quieter, brings a steady stream of loyal supporters to the theater and attendance has been consistent. The theater has two musical revues planned for the upcoming summer season, as well as the children’s program it’s been holding for the past three years, run by Samantha Rotella. They will be releasing more information on that program as it gets closer.

All of the great theater opportunities mentioned above are reason enough to attend “Back To The Fabulous ’50s” and buy a ticket for the $20,000 raffle to support Sanibel’s local theater.

“People should support it because it’s on the island,” Klug added. “It’s right here and we don’t have to go too far for entertainment. It’s going to be a fun event and we’re looking forward to the South Seas Island Resort.”

For tickets or more information, call the Schoolhouse Theater box office at 472-6862 or log on to and click on “Upcoming Events.”

It’s like Smith said: “Keeping the arts alive that’s the Herb Strauss Schoolhouse Theater!”