Friday, 09 December 2022

Soper-Reese project works to meet fundraising challenge

LAKEPORT – The Soper-Reese Community Theater renovation project continues to move forward, but it still needs the community's financial support to meet an important fundraising goal.


The volunteers who are guiding the theater's renaissance are currently gearing up for a major upcoming fundraiser, the second annual Concert Under the Stars on Sept. 8 at Jim Fetzer's Ceago Vinegarden in Nice.


On Monday evening, a small reception was held in the theater lobby, which included a tour of the renovations, for local wineries who are supporting the theater effort. They were able to see improvements including the theater's new heating, ventilation and sprinkler systems.


Donna Peterson, a member of the Soper-Reese Fundraising Committee, said they have open houses for the public about every six weeks or so and invite them in to see the theater's progress.


Peterson, a lifelong Lake County resident, said she is impressed that so many newcomers to the ocunty have such passion about this theater, a place where so many locals went on their first dates many, many years ago.


John Ross, chairman of the Renovation Committee, helped give the tour Monday.


“I was a member of the Clear Lake Performing Arts and we needed a theater – that’s how I got involved,” he said.


Ross and a dedicated cadre of volunteers got the stalled project back off the ground and are beginning to see some progress.


Moving forward has been a matter of putting one step in front of the other, said Ross. But in a short time the group has made remarkable progress.


Construction is taking place in two phases, Ross said. When it's completed, the theater will seat about 380 people.


In addition to theater productions, Ross said they also will show movies that you wouldn't see in local theaters at the Soper-Reese in a digital format.


Mike Adams, a member of the theater's building committee, said the special places in the county – the gazebo in Lakeport, the streetlights in Kelseyville and Lakeport, and now the theater project – build upon one another.


Jim Fetzer of Ceago and Rick Gunier, marketing director of Shannon Ridge Winery, visited the theater to see the work on Monday.


Wineries including Brassfield Estates, Six Sigma, Ceago, Langtry Estate & Vineyards and Shannon Ridge are banding together to help get the theater open, said Ross.


“We need this theater in the community,” said Fetzer.


Gunier agreed. “It's a good project for our entire community.”


Fetzer has supported the effort through hosting the annual fundraiser. “Last year’s event was spectacular and we believe this year’s will be even better,” he said.


Ross said they have high hopes for the fundraiser, which will help them overcome their next big hurdle, which is meeting a challenge to the community from Jim Soper, who has been a major contributor to the effort over the years.


Nina Marino, chair of the theater's fundraising committee, explained the challenge: If the theater's supporters can raise $300,000 from the community, he will donate another $200,000 to the effort. Right now, the group is at the $214,000 mark.


Ross called the community's support to far “impressive,” and also reported that the county gave the theater a $30,000 grant. “That's quite a vote of confidence.”


But they still need those extra funds in order to pay for the theater renovation's second phase.


Ross and Marino both believe the Sept. 8 event at Ceago will get them close to their goal.


Tickets for the event are $100 per person. The evening will feature a gourmet dinner and plenty of great wines from Ceago, Brassfield, Six Sigma, Langtry and Shannon Ridge; and a piano concert under the stars.


And don't forget the music. There will be performances by a string quartet, a harpist and a brass ensemble, as well as offerings of Bolivian and Peruvian music on instruments including flutes, panpipes and guitar.


The event also will feature a silent auction with some special prizes, including lunch with Jim Fetzer at Ceago.


Fetzer credits Ross' leadership with gaining community support for the theater project.


“We’re working it together and we’re having so much fun,” he said.


Tickets are going quickly; to buy yours call Nina Marino, Soper-Reese Fundraising Committee chair, 279-4082.


E-mail Terre Logsdon at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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