By Keysha Drexel
As a child, Scarlotte Deupree Kilgore was mesmerized by watching her favorite stories come to life on the Birmingham Children’s Theatre stage.
And now that she has children of her own, Kilgore said she wants to bring the magic of live theater to all children in the Birmingham metro area.
“I have very, very fond memories of visiting the BCT, and I want more children in our area to be able to have those same kind of memories,” the Mountain Brook mother of two said.
To that end, Kilgore is heading up the Curtain Call Ball, a family-friendly gala on April 5 that will support the Birmingham Children’s Theatre’s mission to provide underserved children with affordable access to live theater.
Kilgore is a member of the Birmingham Children’s Theatre Patrons Board and is chairman of this year’s fundraising gala. The former Miss Alabama and Miss America first runner-up has been involved with the BCT Patrons Board for about two years.
“In the past, the fundraising gala had a different name each year that was based on a different theme,” she said. “But from this year forward, we’re going to call the event the Curtain Call Ball.”
This is the sixth year the Patrons Board has hosted a fundraiser gala for BCT.
The Curtain Call Ball will be held on the BCT’s Main Stage theater from 5:30-8:30 p.m. and will feature music, live and silent auctions, gala-inspired food, art activities for kids and interactions with costumed characters from classic children’s plays and stories.
The event will culminate with a performance showcasing BCT productions.
“There’ll be face painting and balloon artists, a photo booth, a dance floor and the characters will perform every 30 minutes throughout the evening,” Kilgore said.
The Curtain Call Ball will be the rare fundraising gala that is kid-friendly, Kilgore said. She said she will bring her daughters, 5-year-old Virginia Price and 2-year-old Jordan Lee, to the event.
“This is one gala where you don’t have to hire a babysitter,” she said. “It’s really a fun and affordable night out for the whole family, and it’s for such a great cause.”
That great cause, Kilgore said, is all about helping more children in the Birmingham area learn about the excitement and value of live theater.
“I remember coming to the BCT being an amazing experience for me as a child, right from the moment I walked in the door,” Kilgore said. “There was the smell of popcorn–they sold concessions back then–the anticipation of the show, the thrill of the lights going down and the magic of seeing the characters I knew and loved come to life on stage. All children need to experience that.”
In this plugged-in, tech-savvy world, children need to experience live theater more than ever, said Margaret Brooke, a BCT Patrons Board member who’s helping with the plans for the Curtain Call Ball.
“Live theater keeps children’s imaginations going and keeps them dreaming big and thinking outside of narrow view they can get in video games or from TV,” she said.
Brooke, who lives in Crestline, said like Kilgore, she has fond memories of visiting BCT as a child.
“My father, Felix Drennen, was on the BCT board, and we would come to the theater with him all the time,” she said. “We would go back and try on all the costumes, and it was such a happy place.”
Brooke said her father’s support of the arts scene in Birmingham inspired her to do the same thing.
“My father had three girls who were drama queens and loved the arts, and he wanted to support the arts for all children, and that’s what I want to do, too, as a member of the Patrons Board,” she said.
Brooke got involved with the BCT Patrons Board about a year ago because she believes in its mission to expose children to the arts, she said.
“It seems like the arts programs are the first things to be cut when schools have budget problems, so we really have to support programs like the BCT that are trying to bring that enrichment to children’s lives,” she said. “The BCT is a wonderful resource, and we need to take advantage of all that is offered.”
This season, in-house productions at the BCT will play to more than 90,000 children in preschool through the eighth grade, teachers and parents, said Rebecca Rhodes Sibley, development director at BCT.
The BCT also takes its shows on the road, reaching nearly 45,000 additional students each year and traveling to as many as 40 Alabama counties.
“We all value our own experiences that we’ve had at the BCT, and we want to give as many children as possible a chance to have that same kind of experience,” Kilgore said. “That’s what the Curtain Call Ball is all about.”
Individual adult tickets for the Curtain Call Ball are $50, and children’s tickets are $20. Tickets for a family of four are $125. Individual sponsorships are available for $250-$1,000.
For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.bct123.org or call 458-8181.