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Theatre with the Stars is among year’s shining benefits


The pro-am talent contest was in mid-October, in Flat Rock Playhouse’s Playhouse Downtown at 125 S. Main St. in Hendersonville. The third annual variety show’s benefit to non-profits shines on during holidays, thanks to efforts of each pair of civic leaders and media-show business professionals and those who donated dollars of support.

A record $19,871 was raised, which was much more than the nearly $11,000 of the prior year, organizers noted.

“We are proud and grateful to offer this platform for so many amazing local non profits, as well as these leaders in our community who do so much to support them,” FRP Artistic Director Lisa K. Bryant stated.

The winning duo was Park Ridge Health Senior Dir. of Mktg. and Foundation Sherri Holbert, and Dave Earl Hart who has run FRP’s YouTheatre for youth and is its artist in residence. They won $1,000, which will go towards the hospital foundation. The winner is a combo of top judging score and most money raised in advance donations online and those at the show.

Holbert and Hart portrayed hobos, in their musical skit that Hart scripted and choreographed. They were accompanied by eight youngsters of varying ages, who acted as dismayed homeless youth in a big city. Holbert’s hobo convinces her cohort to share their sudden fortune with the children.

Behind the frolic of song and dance was a serious message of hope for those down and out. That theme fits a Park Ridge program Holbert touted, to combat local youths’ issues related to stress, despair, anxiety, depression, substance abuse and suicide. She noted studies indicate one in five youths nationwide suffer a severe mental health issue, and suicide is the leading cause of death for those ages 10-24.

The contest prize money and donations help “renovate the behavioral health unit,” she noted. Holbert said this will link young patients with a board-certified pediatric psychiatrist, a nurse charting station, and leading technology.

“It was so exciting” to perform in public for a change, Holbert said. She has served as FRP Supporting Players president. Hart said it is fun to see civic leaders get “out of their comfort zone,” to perform for “five great causes.”

The pairs performed various acts. First, Boys & Girls Club Ex. Dir. Julia Hockenberry (for her group) and FRP Marketing and Development head Dane Whitlock sang and danced very energetically.

Most energetic of all was Team ECCO Ocean Center & Aquarium founder and head Brenda Ramer. She portrayed dynamo Tina Turner, singing “Proud Mary” soulfully and dancing frenetically once it shifted up-tempo. Lisa Bryant acted as her director. Ramer competed for the aquarium, its new shark tank and ongoing baby tank research.

The other two acts were dialogue-based, with performers mainly seated. Hendersonville City Mgr. John Connet competed on behalf of HopeRx anti-addiction. He and veteran star FRP comic king Scott Treadway did snappy dialogue. Reacting as they went along, Treadway unleashed his familiar facial gradient of disgust.

Noah C. George, Keller Williams Realty agent, does local radio shows on real estate. He snickered in making quips in a pretend TV news broadcast with Victoria Dunkle, the “pro” of this entertainment team. She was the real deal, as WLOS-TV noon anchor in Asheville in 2003-15. Now, she is Park Ridge Health communications director. They competed for George’s choice of the Henderson County Education Foundation, and its Leader in Me program for students.

Each civic contestant’s video on the non-profit cause was shown, just ahead of the act. Judges were Dr. Scott Donaldson, Kimerly Hinkelman and ’16 contest winner Lutrelle Livingston O’Cain. The event’s main sponsor was Horizon Heating & Air Conditioning. Hosts were WTZQ G.M. Mark Warwick, and Tiffany Ervin who does TV sideline reporting of South Carolina high school football including in the recent Shrine Bowl.

For more on FRP including on shows in the new year, check flatrockplayhouse.org.

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