When Dr. Gerald Ellison approached Dr. Menno Pennink about ways he could help support the Gilbert Theater in downtown Fayetteville, Pennink was quick to suggest a classical concert fundraiser in his private music room on Person Street. With that, the seed that would become the Gilbert Theater’s Matinée and Fundraiser was planted. The afternoon of Sunday, June 10, the music room will open to a small number of ticket-holders for an intimate night of classical music.
Pennink, a now-retired neurosurgeon, has been involved with many important ventures in Fayetteville since moving to the city in 1974. He was responsible for bringing the first computed tomography scan machine to the Fayetteville area in 1975. Pennink said, “Surgery was my profession, but I have been heavily involved in the revitalization of the downtown area.”
Pennink has long been a believer in downtown Fayetteville as well as the arts and culture in the area. He is an accomplished concert violinist and began playing in the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra when he first moved to the area. He later bought and renovated the space on Person Street that would become his personal, private music room – The Capitol Room. Inside The Capitol Room, the floors shine beneath the overhead lights, and the space is graced by the presence of a Steinway & Sons concert grand piano.
“The music room is sort of a hidden treasure,” Pennink said. “People don’t know about it. It’s not advertised.”
The collaboration between Pennink, with his background in the arts and his long-term investments in downtown Fayetteville, and the Gilbert Theater makes sense. The program for the evening
includes performances by Pennink as well as other classically trained musicians from the surrounding areas, including the renowned violinist Olesya Dashkevych of Winston-Salem. Musical selections to be featured include arrangements of classical chamber-music pieces by Beethoven, Schubert, Medtner and Massenet.
All proceeds from the performance benefit the Gilbert Theater, which is preparing to enter its 25th season of providing the Fayetteville area with quality theater.
The 2018-19 season opens in September with “Godspell.” The silver anniversary season will also include productions of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “Doubt,” “The Laramie Project” and a stage adaptation of the classic C.S. Lewis novel “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.”
The money raised from tickets to the matinée event will help the theater produce these shows and fund its many educational initiatives, including camps and classes for school-aged children. The Gilbert runs after-school classes for ages 8-15, a summer acting camp for ages 6-17, and glee/acting classes for ages 6-16. For those ages 16 and up, the Gilbert offers the Gilbert Actor Theatre Ensemble, G.A.T.E.
The Gilbert Theater’s Matinée and Fundraiser will take place on June 10 at 3:30 p.m. at The Capitol Room, 134 Person St., in downtown Fayetteville. Admission is $30, and 50 tickets are available. Tickets can be purchased online at www.gilberttheater.com. For more information, contact the Gilbert Theater at 910-678-7186.