Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Curtain Up!

Bobby Darrow.2

Robert Darrow is retiring as managing and artistic director of Shreveport Little Theatre.

Fundraiser and goodbyes for Shreveport Little Theatre’s director

The Shreveport Little Theatre needs money.

The SLT’s long-time managing and artistic director is retiring at the end of April.

So, why not have one event for two purposes?

“Curtain Up!,” a fundraiser and tribute to Dr. Robert K. Darrow, will take place Saturday, April 13, from 6-10 p.m. at East Ridge Country Club. Tickets are $150 per person, $275 per couple and $1,000 for a table of eight. All amounts are tax-deductible. You won’t leave hungry, as there will be cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and a seated gourmet dinner.

“We’re celebrating in a variety of ways,” said SLT Board of Directors member Bonne Summers.

One of those ways is by having 12 different professional entertainers sing.

“It’s kind of like dinner and a show,” Summers said. “A lot of it will be Broadway tunes or tunes that people are familiar with. We have a very diverse group of professionals, and I’m very excited about it.”

You may recognize some of the performers, as all are local.

“A lot of them have had affiliations with the Shreveport Little Theatre over the years,” Summers said. “Some have not, but for some, their children had the experience in the SLT’s Children’s Academy. This is their way of saying, ‘Thank you.’ They’re doing all of this voluntarily.”

The SLT, now 102 years old, has its own building (812 Margaret Place), which is “unlike most arts organizations in Shreveport,” Dr. Darrow said. “It’s a very large facility, and the overhead is large. There’s the constant stress of trying to pay the bills and simply survive.”

The SLT building doesn’t have wants; it has needs. At “Curtain Up!,” those needs will be addressed through a “different” live auction. Event emcee Mike Martindale, an SLT performer and radio personality, will lead the crowd in a “Paddle Raise.” Similarly to items in an auction, each need, such as a new roof, stage curtain, sound system, lighting, landscaping and scholarships to the Children’s Academy, will be up for you to raise your paddle and donate. The SLT promises, “Every dollar raised will help fuel creativity, promote inclusivity and sustain the arts” in Shreveport.

“These needs can range anywhere from a $50 donation to thousands of dollars,” Summers said. “This lets people know their money will go directly to a specific item that needs support.”

The SLT has a major fundraiser every two years.

Dr. Robert Darrow with a coffee table book about the theater.

“We did not have a fundraiser last year, so this is extremely important to us,” Dr. Darrow said. “Our ticket (prices) are kept low on purpose, so the maximum number of people can attend. SLT just scrapes by. We are a non-profit. We certainly do not make a profit. We depend on our patrons to come out to these events and support us, because it literally keeps our doors open. We could not make it without fundraising and donors.”

And it’s likely the SLT would not have made it this long without Dr. Darrow.

“I think he has been a rock-solid supporter of not only the Shreveport Little Theatre, but any kind of theater organization in Shreveport,” Summers said. “When you get down to it, he’s kept theater alive in this town. (At SLT), he’s been the artistic director, the managing director and the business director. His hat wears it all.”

At 65, Dr. Darrow has been participating in community theatre in Shreveport for 54 years and has been associated with the SLT for 52 years.

“I would say I’m responsible for keeping Shreveport Little Theatre and Academy alive, despite rebuilding from two fires and the pandemic,” Dr. Darrow said. “I tried to keep our doors open throughout those events. It was quite a challenge.”

On April 13, the SLT will say, “Thank you.”

“I’m very honored and humbled that they would throw a party for me upon my retirement,” Dr. Darrow said. “It’s been quite a long journey. A lot of friends have been made over the years. I look forward to an exciting evening.”

For more information on “Curtain Up!,” you may visit shreveportlittletheatre.com/2024-gala.


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