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Life is a Cabaret this weekend at the Pensacola Little Theatre

After a two-year hiatus, PLT's "Cabaret" fundraiser is back this weekend.
Pensacola Little Theatre

There are fundraisers, there are parties and there are cultural events. This weekend, the Pensacola Little Theatre will try to put on all three, all at once.

“The whole point is to have one event in town that is not a sit-down dinner, it’s not a paddle-race fund-raiser, (and) it’s not listening to a keynote speaker,” said Sid Williams-Heath, executive director of the Pensacola Little Theatre and the Pensacola Cultural Center. “It is as true to our mission as a cultural center as possible to showcase every type of art that we have day-in and day-out”.

Cabaret is an annual fundraiser that the Little Theatre has been holding for decades. As with just about everything else in life, the event had to be put on hold due to the pandemic. Now, after a two-year absence, Cabaret returns this Saturday evening at the downtown cultural center.

Each year Cabaret has a different theme. In past years the themes have included “colors," “decades,” and “locations." This year, the theme is “holidays."

“We decided to have a party this year that showcases every holiday that, maybe you missed throughout the COVID shut-down,” said Williams-Heath. Different holidays will be celebrated in all of the different rooms of the Pensacola Cultural center.

“You’re going to walk into the atrium, and that is our Fourth of July,” said Susan Clark-Waters, owner of Pure Pilates, a member of the Pensacola Little Theatre Board of Trustees. “We’re going to have a large birthday cake for the U.S. Then when you walk into our courtroom, which is one of the larger rooms, that’s our Valentine’s room. Very sultry, very velvet, chocolate, floor-to-ceiling red, maybe a drag show or two in there.”

There will also be rooms celebrating Mardis Gras, Christmas, and Halloween.

Outside the Cultural Center, it will be New Year’s Eve.

“We’re dropping the ball every hour on the hour,” said Williams-Heath. The outdoor New Year’s celebration will commemorate long-time supporters of the theatre Dave and Cynthia Clark. “We are actually renaming the cultural center the Clark Family Cultural Center. And as a fun little tribute to their one million dollar donation to us, instead of a Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve, we will be having a Dave Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve outside.”

Tickets to the black-tie event are limited and cost $150 per person.

“The fundraising goes to costumes, it goes to props, it goes to keeping the lights on for rehearsals, we have a kids education department, we’re about to go into the summer, so we have (our) kids’ theatre camp,” said Clark-Waters. She also says the board is kicking off a new capital campaign “We’re trying to raise money to remodel the building. The building hasn’t really been touched since the mid to late 90s. So we’re trying to raise awareness and funds for the newly named Clark Family Cultural Center.”

“We are very fortunate and blessed to have this almost 115-year-old building, but of course that comes with the woes and the wear and tear of having over 1,000 volunteers in here every single year" said Williams-Heath.

The Pensacola Little Theatre has a paid staff of nine. Everything else is done by volunteers.

“It’s not just the actors that are in the shows, but it’s the people behind the scenes" said Williams-Heath. "It’s the set designers and the customers and the ushers. They are all here giving over 100,000 hours of volunteer service every year. So we want to have a safe space for them. We want to be able to fund a place where they can have a home away from home and safely express themselves.”

Bob Barrett has been a radio broadcaster since the mid 1970s and has worked at stations from northern New York to south Florida and, oddly, has been able to make a living that way. He began work in public radio in 2001. Over the years he has produced nationally syndicated programs such as The Environment Show and The Health Show for Northeast Public Radio's National Productions.