PUBLISHED: 5:25 PM on Wednesday, April 27, 2005
Finalizing the final Bishop Kenny Bash

Photo by Christina Holmgren
  Ekaterina Oleksa, Sharon Gaiptman, Sarah Raster, Jeff Hermann and Sue Koester preparing for the last Bishop Kenny Bash in the Perseverance Theatre offices Saturday.
For Perseverance Theatre supporters who have put on their annual calendar to attend the theater's Bishop Kenny Bash every year, it's time to check of the last - and possibly greatest - of the events.

Saturday, April 30, the Bishop Kenny Bash moves into the Thane Ore House for the last time, with its all-you-can-eat, all-you-can-dance, all-the-fun-you-can-have community fundraising event, named in remembrance of Bishop Michael Kenny, a long-time board member and great supporter of Perseverance Theatre.

"We will always keep the Bishop's memory alive, but we'll be doing it in a new and different way in the future," said Sharon Gaiptman, co-chair of the Bishop Kenny Bash committee at Perseverance.

Gaiptman said Bishop Kenny has come to mind often in the past month for everyone at the theater.

"I can't help but think that maybe the Bishop would have been a cardinal by now -Ehe was that kind of person -Eand been over there in Rome helping elect the new Pope."

The evening will open - uncharacteristically -Ewith presenting this year's Bishop Kenny Awards (one for artistic excellence, one for long term commitment to Perseverance) to this year's award winners, Ed Christian and Peter Freer. And because the award winners both have parts in Theatre in the Rough's "Richard III" at McPhetre's Hall, with curtain call at 7, the normal schedule had to be shifted around; awards will be presented at 6:30 p.m.

"That means they won't get all the attention and adulation that they deserve," said Gaiptman - but it also shows that the recipients are indeed dedicated to their art.

The annual dinner -Ewhich volunteers said was "probably the 14th" - will feature barbecued salmon and halibut with side dishes, and desserts will be available from a dessert auction "because even if the dinner is all you can eat, with coleslaw and beans and other side dishes, there's always room in your stomach for dessert," Gaiptman said.

The scoop when the committee got together Saturday to put together bid sheets and finalize the list of auction items was that Dan Johnson's (of Competitive Edge) Cuban Opera Cake would be one of the highlights of the dessert auction (you heard it here first).

Apart from the dessert auction, the evening will include a live auction, led by Benjamin Brown (who has donated a splendid dinner for three - and himself - on the evening of the Tony Awards, complete with Broadway gossip), a silent auction, and a "red ticket hat auction" where people can buy tickets in packets of ten, write their name and phone number on them, and that way "bid" on packages of Blockbuster gift certificates and other similar things.

"People might not want to bid on something that starts at $25, but putting a ticket in a hat, you still have the chance of winning -Eand contributing," Gaiptman said.

Items for all the auctions have been donated by businesses and private citizens, and include Alaska Airlines tickets for any destination they fly, a trip to New York City with hotel and cruise and tickets to former Perseverance artistic director Peter Dubois' new digs at the New York City Public Theatre. An exquisite eskimo cameo made from carved ivory from Cha's For The Finest, an original by David Woodie, and Helen of Troy Shield earrings from a New York jewelry artist have also been donated.

"And lots of great local stuff," said committee co-chair Sue Koester.

The "great local stuff" would include kayaking trips, boat trips, a pair of original earrings created by Rep. Beth Kerttula, and dinners. Lots and lots of dinners. Apparently, acting makes people hungry. Or the creativity of theater enthusiasts can't be contained to the stage but spills over to their kitchens. Either way, they're happy to share. Bash-participants will be able to bid on several ethnic dinners cooked by culinarily gifted Juneauites. Artistic Director PJ Paparelli is doing an Italian dinner for four; John & Margaret Pugh a barbecue for six, Koester will auction off a "seasonal soups & bread" package where she will deliver home-cooked soup and bread for six people four times over the next year. There's also Koester's Mexican Fiesta in a box; Perseverance Technical Director Sergei Morosan's Thai dinner for six, and Katharine and Jim Heumann's Indian dinner for six. Oh, and not to forget the sushi rolls, complete with lessons on how to make them from Louanne Christian.

The enthusiasm and creativity in donations is explained by Gaiptman as "people who have a commitment to the arts -Elike Bishop Kenny did - their commitment is a hundred percent."

"We do appreciate our amazing staff, their hard work and incredible talent," she said, "but honestly, this place runs so much on the power and commitment of volunteers, both behind the scenes and those who do small parts on stage for minimum wage... these are people who eat, sleep, and breathe theater."

Tickets for the Bishop Kenny Bash are $25 and are available at Perseverance Theatre, Hearthside Books, and at the door.