When North Fork Community Theatre treasurer Mary Motto Kalich took Michael and Emilie Corey on a tour of the Mattituck theater in June 2013, she told the Riverhead couple of the organization’s goal to renovate it.
The Coreys were eager to help.
The couple proposed a 2 1/2-year plan to match up to $300,000 in community donations so the theater company could realize its dream.
Now two months away from the Dec. 31, 2015 fundraising deadline, the theater group is nearing its target, having received about $225,000 from more than 900 donors.
And the Coreys — he’s a retired managing director of JP Morgan and his wife is a retired social worker — have committed to match every single dollar.
“[The donations] are great because they tell us, ‘Okay, we can do this,’” said NFCT president Liz Liszanckie. “ [The donations] make the dream a reality.”
To transform the building, which was built in 1831, renovations have already been made to the exterior, where an old stained-glass window was uncovered and restored and a box office window will be reopened. But this is only the beginning of the theater’s overall improvement plan.
“The feedback we’ve been getting on our long-term renovation plans have been really positive,” Ms. Motto Kalich said. “That’s been lucky for us that the community is so motivated and so interested that they have been supporting us as we renovate it.”
The theater board is currently choosing between three plans designed by Walters-Storyk Design Group, an architecture firm that specializes in designing theaters. Ms. Motto Kalich and Ms. Liszanckie said all the plans include improving a rigging set up, redesigned seating, more wing space for the stage and improved sound and lighting systems.
Ms. Liszanckie said one of the biggest complaints the theater gets is about its sound system. Because of the location of the pit orchestra, theatergoers in certain seats have difficulty hearing the actors during shows. In order to combat this, the theater’s board is tossing around the idea of creating a space underneath the stage for the orchestra to perform.
“We’re really just going from being a church (building) that we put some performances on in … to really being a place that was designed to be a theater,” Ms. Motto Kalich said.
She said she’s attended numerous gatherings in private homes around town at which the owners have invited NFCT members to perform and speak about plans for the building.
In addition, community members have attended fundraisers, mailed checks, sent money though the theater’s website and placed donations in buckets during the shows.
“It’s so much more exciting on a personal level to see the individuals, the $100 checks and just someone dropping an extra $50 in the bucket after the show because those are the people that come to our shows,” Ms. Liszanckie said. “They just want to show their support and it’s them showing they understand that this is a gem in our community.”
Another large donation came from Richard Manfredi of Southold, who contributed funds to pay for the architect to help with the design and execution of the interior renovations.
While the matching portion of the fundraising campaign ends in December, donations will still be welcome in 2016.
The theater is currently hosting its final production of this year, “Little Shop of Horrors,” directed by Ms. Motto Kalich and produced by Ms. Liszanckie. Tonight (Thursday, Oct. 29)is opening night, with performances continuing Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. through Nov. 15. Tickets are $20.
Interested in donating?
To make a contribution that will be matched dollar-for-dollar through Dec. 31, visit the theater’s website, nfct.com; mail a check to North Fork Community Theatre, P.O. Box 86, Mattituck 11952; or call 298-4500. (Ticket sales do not count as renovation-campaign donations.)
For “Little Shop of Horror” tickets, call 298-6328 or visit nfct.com.
Photo Caption: A sign in front of the theater Friday afternoon shows how much money NFCT had raised. (Credit: Nicole Smith)