North Fork Theatre closing in on $500K fundraising goal

05/04/2012 11:00 AM |

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Peter Peterson (from left), Luke Sisson and Charles Lehner in the spring's production of 'How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying' at North Fork Community Theatre.

The race is on for the North Fork Community Theatre to raise $500,000 to purchase its building before this August’s deadline, and an anonymous donor has just pledged a $10,000 matching grant toward making the group’s dream come true.

The theater has been in its current Old Sound Avenue location, owned by Mattituck Presbyterian Church, for 51 years. Its lease expires in August and the group is in contract to buy the building. So far the group has raised $395,000, more than $100,000 of it in the past four months, said Mary Motto Kalich, chairperson of the group’s building on tradition campaign committee.

“It’s absolutely incredibly awesome,” she said. “We’re seeing people coming forward and contributing. If we keep up the pace, we’re pretty sure that it will happen.”

Ms. Kalich said the matching grant donor is hoping her contribution will help inspire other people to join the cause.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for everyone to donate their own $100 and have it turn into $200,” she said.

The committee is also planning its fourth annual gala for June 16 to raise funds for the building project. This year’s event will honor current and former members of the theater’s Youth on Stage program. Now in its 41st year, the program mounts an annual summer production starring young actors between ages 14 and 22.

“We have people coming in from all over the country,” said Ms. Kalich. She added that when contacting former Youth on Stage members, she often found that they were still close friends with others they met through the program.

“There are people who’ve been out of the program for 30 years who say they’re still best friends,” she said. “There’s been a lot of Facebook chatting about the event. Youth on Stage is an opportunity to learn how to sing, dance and make friends across high school barriers. It’s a wonderful opportunity for people to gain strength and confidence in themselves.”

The gala will be held at Stonewalls Restaurant in Riverhead. Recent Youth on Stage participants will provide entertainment and there will be a live auction with auctioneer and actor David Markel. The cost is $50 for regular admission and $25 for current Youth on Stage participants.

Donations can be made at nfct.com or sent to NFCT at P.O. Box 86, Mattituck, NY 11952. Tickets to the gala are available on the website or by calling Ms. Kalich at 917-334-6639.

byoung@timesreview.com