photo by Cathy Jones


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Theatre on a Mission (TOM) held a gala fundraiser show at the Alhambra Theatre on June 20, 2016. This mission group was started several years ago by Chelsey Cain and Danielle Glenn, while students at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts. After planning a trip to Africa, they invited others to join them. The focus of their work was teaching theatre arts — acting, singing, and dancing — to children from an orphanage and nearby schools in Bondo, Kenya. Two trips to Africa in 2011 and 2014 were followed by a trip to Costa Rica in 2015. This year, it’s back to Bondo, with ambitious plans.

Proceeds from the gala will be dedicated to supporting the 2016 trip. In additional to ticket sales, fundraising activities included a live auction for several items.  Additionally, the Alhambra’s library space was filled with silent auction items and tables of delicious dessert offerings for sale contributed by volunteers.

For the enthusiastic and full house audience at this event, Ms. Cain and Ms. Glenn wrote and performed a musical mystery; both were cast as detectives. The plot was pretty simple and concerned this year’s trip to Kenya. Shelley Cain, President & Director of TOM (and Chelsey’s mother), appeared on stage to show the audience a large photographic rendering of a school the group plans to build. When she lifted the concealing cover THE PHOTO WAS MISSING!

AH, enter the two super sleuths to discover which members of the team planning to travel to Kenya had stolen the photo! The production, which was done with laughs in mind, reminded us of a Saturday Night Live skit and was a lot of fun. Six guest gala entertainers listed in the program presented musical sections. They were Lee Hamby, Gena Heylock, Ashley McDonald, Sissy Hofaker, Devin Reardon, and Joshua Johnson.

photo by Cathy Jones
photo by Cathy Jones

Team Members portraying hilarious suspects included Craige Cain, Sydney Leiser, Pablo Milla, Jackie Jones, Erica Runyon, Heather Severson, Chaselle Miranda, Chelby Miranda and Shannon Driscoll.

The creative crew included Brooke Azzaro & Meredith Key (Stage Managers), Charlotte Fisher (Choreographer) Ellen Milligan (Accompanist) and Tinesha Tutt (Sound Engineer). Team Coordinators/Supporters were Kevin Driscoll, Cathy Jones and Jody Leiser. The Staff of the Alhambra provided expert assistance throughout.

The Theatre on a Mission family is growing and growing, and this year, the group will begin building a school of the arts in Bondo. Support for the group is also growing both locally and nationally. The excellent program for the mystery musical was filled with the names of various companies who have made donations of services, materials, and funds. In addition, a number of colleges and universities nationwide have expressed interest in supporting the group’s mission in future years to provide theatrical arts training and other services in the planned school and theatre complex in Kenya.

For information about the group (which is a 501 c 3 organization) and how to donate, visit theatreonamission.org. Of note, you will also find gorgeous photos taken on location on the site.

About Dick Kerekes & Leisla Sansom

The Dual Critics of EU Jacksonville have been reviewing plays together for the past nine years. Dick Kerekes has been a critic since 1980, starting with The First Coast Entertainer and continuing as the paper morphed into EU Jacksonville. Leisla Sansom wrote reviews from time to time in the early 80s, but was otherwise occupied in the business world. As a writing team, they have attended almost thirty Humana Festivals of New America Plays at Actors Theatre in Louisville, Kentucky, and many of the annual conferences sponsored by the American Theatre Critics Association, which are held in cities throughout the country. They have reviewed plays in Cincinnati, Chicago, Miami, Sarasota, Minneapolis, Orlando, New York, Philadelphia, Sarasota, San Francisco, Shepherdstown, and The Eugene O’Neill Center in Waterford, Massachusetts. They currently review about one hundred plays annually in the North Florida area theaters, which include community, college, university, and professional productions.