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Shamrock Festival to present ‘A Cut Above the Rest’

St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church will launch its 2011 Shamrock Festival on Friday, Aug. 12, at 6 p.m. with a special gala event to benefit Music Boosters.

The evening will feature a wine and beer bar along with desserts and assorted goodies, a Shamrock Festival silent auction preview and early bidding, piano music provided by Sally Neel, and a short one-act farcical play reading by members of Music Boosters.

The comedy, “A Cut Above the Rest,” written by Claire Demmer, will feature Music Booster board members Dale Johnson, Kathy Isberg, Sally Neel, Jeff Schaupp, and Sue Anderson, along with guest actors Robert Neel, Charisse Morris, Trace Gross-Sanchez and special guest actor, Fr. Doug Neel.

Confusion and bedlam prevail as two incompetent thieves, as well as a few other slightly more competent ones, crash the funeral of an elderly woman who has left behind a priceless diamond necklace. Pretending to be long lost relatives of the deceased, Snake and Harry attempt to make a discreet search of the deceased woman’s home before the funeral begins in hopes of walking away with the treasure. Trying to maintain their cover as they run into an undercover detective, a constable, a solicitor, a priest and the two old maid sisters of the deceased, becomes more and more complicated as lies and stories become confused. To make matters worse, three of the undercover characters have chosen to call themselves “John Smith” while another character’s name really is John Smith. Nothing is as it seems in this funny one-act farce. The ending may surprise you!

Music Boosters is a well-known organization in our community that, since 1989, has presented professional quality musical theater productions utilizing the talents of local actors and musicians. The proceeds from their ticket sales and fundraising efforts are used to support a student scholarship program that awards a four-year scholarship each year to a selected student majoring in performing arts. They also provide needed equipment for the arts programs in the schools and offer students the opportunities to hone their skills on stage and off. Some of their donations have included a Yamaha conservatory grand piano for the high school, as well as two high quality Kurzweil electric pianos, sound equipment, sets for plays, use of costumes and storage space, as well as covering incidental repair costs and other equipment needs. Music Boosters keeps their overhead costs low in order to be able to provide generously to our schools and enable students to have the tools they need to develop their artistic skills. You can learn more about Music Boosters at www.pagosamusicboosters.org.

“I have had personal experience working with the wonderful people in Music Boosters,” says Fr. Doug Neel, rector of St. Patrick’s. “I actually got to play the part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt in their production of ‘Annie’ last summer. The experience gave me tremendous insights into the amount of love and dedication, along with the amazing amount of hard work that goes into their productions,” he said. “I also have a son who has benefited greatly from the opportunities that Music Boosters has afforded him over the past few years.” Thanks to their mentoring his son, Robert Neel, discovered a real calling towards becoming a professional actor. He was honored to be chosen as this year’s recipient of the Music Boosters $500 annual scholarship. Other current scholarship recipients include Becca Stephens, Kayla Hunt and Jeff Reardon. Fr. Neel says he is grateful to this wonderful group and supports them wholeheartedly in their efforts to strengthen the arts in the schools. Robert will play the part of “Snake” in the one-act comedy play to be presented at St. Patrick’s. Fr. Neel will play the part of the priest, of course.

The Shamrock Festival is an annual event sponsored by St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church, 225 S. Pagosa Blvd. The festival will continue on Saturday, Aug. 13, with a huge yard sale and used book sale from 8 a.m. til noon. At 4 p.m. there will be a cash wine and beer bar and delectable hors d’oeuvres served outside as the bidding at the silent auction begins in the church. The dinner under the tent at 6 p.m. and quilt raffle drawing will be followed by dancing to the tunes of Leadfoot Ruthie. The bidding for the auction will conclude at 8.

The Shamrock Festival proceeds support local non-profit groups. The public is invited and encouraged to attend. Tickets for the Friday night gala are $15 and can be purchased at the door. Dinner tickets ($20) and quilt raffle tickets ($1 each; 6/$5; 12/$10) are on sale now in the church office. Don’t miss the fun!

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