At the Copa: Pinecrest Players Team Up With Culinary Program for Fundraiser
You don't have to travel to Havana or Rio to experience the glamour and excitement of "A Night at the Copacabana."
A simple trip to Pinehurst's Fair Barn will suffice when on Saturday, Jan. 10, students at Pinecrest High School will reproduce the famous New York City supper club in a dinner theater setting. The spectacular event is a fundraiser for the Pinecrest Players' drama program and for the school's culinary program.
The 1978 Barry Manilow song, "Copacabana" is named for and about the New York night spot, which saw the debut of many famous entertainers of the 1940s and '50s, including the team of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, and Danny Thomas. Other notables such as Tony Bennett, Perry Como, Frank Sinatra, Jackie Gleason, Lena Horne, and Diana Ross and the Supremes made regular appearances on the Copa's stage.
Classic songs of the era will be spotlighted in the Pinecrest Players' replica of a Copacabana show, together with skits and dialogue. For instance, Braylin Bayless and Bradley Gibson, who portrayed Belle and the Beast from "Beauty and the Beast," Pinecrest's spring production, are teamed in a duet of "Unforgettable," while Bayless delivers the popular "Someone to Watch Over Me," and Gibson performs the favorite, "That Old Black Magic," among the 19 numbers comprising the tuneful show.
The idea for the Copacabana dinner theater came from Adam Faw, the artistic director for the Pinecrest Players theater program. A graduate of Appalachian State University, he has been on the faculty at Pinecrest for six years, directing productions of "Beauty and the Beast," "West Side Story" and "Damn Yankees." He is also the technical director for the Robert E. Lee Auditorium at Pinecrest, overseeing technical production for groups such as the North Carolina Symphony, Moore County Choral Society and Golf Capital Chorus.
Speaking about the need for additional funds to maintain the program at the school, Faw explains, "We have supplemented the minimal state funds that the program receives each year by doing our own fund-raising, and I thought the concept of a dinner theater would be feasible.
"Chef Steven Knopfke, who is in charge of the culinary program, was enthusiastic, and Connie and Joe Ambrosio suggested a supper club act in which the students could participate. We have more than 40 students participating in the production, most of them on stage, but with a few filling backstage jobs."
Connie and Joe Ambrosio, who have taken over the musical direction of the Copa show, retired to Seven Lakes from Long Island a few years ago. Joe directed choral programs at the Islip High School for 14 years and has worked as a professional musician and arranger for such big names as Marvin Hamlisch and The Bee Gees. He and his wife created "Swing" in New York as an extracurricular program for talented students, and transposed the plan to "Swing North Carolina" in the Sandhills.
"Connie and Joe Ambrosio have donated a huge amount of time and have been great working with the kids," says Faw. "They have taken the lead for the musical direction of the show, and, in addition to all the rehearsing, Joe will be playing piano accompaniment the night of the performance. He will be backed up by two students --Joey Rasmus on bass and Madison Fry on drums."
Also involved in the production of "A Night at the Copacabana" are Mary McKeithen and Marci Haberstroh of Showboat Costuming, and David Godsey of Extra Mile Audio. Faw, in his role as overall director, has concentrated on the staging and the technical aspects of the show, assisted by Douglas Fry handling lighting.
Before the show starts, however, the guests will be served a splendid six-course dinner.
Twenty of the students from the culinary program will prepare and serve the dinner, under the direction of Chef Steven Knopfke. From a beginning course of prosciutto purses with fresh melon, through a salad and soup course, topped off by an intermezzo sorbet, to a main course that includes pork medallions with apricot chutney and wild mushroom chicken marsala, the dinner will conclude with an assorted dessert platter.
Knopfke is justly proud of his students in his Foods II advanced course. He joined the faculty at Pinecrest High School four years ago, and prior to that time had taught culinary skills in Buffalo, N.Y., before moving to Moore County. He has also worked as a food and beverage manager at the Buffalo Marriott and as chef supervisor for Sportservice at Ralph Wilson Stadium, the venue the Buffalo Bills call home.
"This is a wonderful chance to see and experience your education dollars in action, as well as to enjoy a delightful evening of excellent cuisine and song," says Faw.
Tickets for "A Night at the Copacabana" at $50 are limited. They can be obtained at the Arts Council of Moore County at the Campbell House, 482 East Connecticut Avenue in Southern Pines, or call 910-715-1931 for more information. (The Arts Council will be closed for the holidays through Jan. 2.)
Contact Pinehurst freelance write Mary Elle Hunter at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More like this story