Update: The Thursday, Dec. 15 performance and fundraiser have been postponed due to the inclement weather.
ITHACA, N.Y.—The Kitchen Theatre Company is facing some of the same existential crises other small, local community theaters are across the country, as the COVID-19 pandemic decimated the live performance industry and the ongoing return has thus far been disappointing.
This week, the community will have the opportunity to support the theater again, thanks to the Kitchen Theatre Company’s Legendary Holiday Party. The party is held on two nights, Dec. 14 and 15, at 7 p.m. and includes a show featuring eight celebrity guests playing the Match Game, food and drinks, and a raffle.
“We are ecstatic to be able to gather our theatre friends and family for an evening of tongue and cheek laughter,” said Kitchen Theatre Producing Artistic Director Rebecca Bradshaw. “The arts in Ithaca are experiencing a very challenging moment right now and coming together is the first antidote for change.”
Tickets, available here, are $50 for admission and food with separate purchase of drinks, or $75 to include an open bar as well.
The annual event is joyful and raucous, according to Karl Gregory, one of the most prominent faces of the Kitchen Theatre and in the local stage community. He’s worked at the Kitchen for over 20 years, seeing the previous heights and the current struggles the theatre has endured.
“It’s been extremely difficult for smaller non-profit theaters across the country and KTC is no exception,” Gregory said. “We haven’t seen audiences come back to the theater like we hoped, and if people aren’t coming to the theater they are much less likely to financially support us the way they used to. […] We’ve lost about 75% of our subscriber base over the past three years. We need new subscribers to keep those important conversations going at the Kitchen. If you’ve ever thought about subscribing, now’s the time!”
With government aid from all different levels drying up—in the latest bit of bad news, Kitchen Theatre and applications from most if not all of the local arts community were not selected to receive money from the Tompkins County Recovery Fund—Gregory said the significance of the community’s help has increased greatly. The community can do so even if they are unable to attend the fundraisers this week at KTC’s website. The theater is trying to reach $25,000 by the end of the year.
“It absolutely is my artistic home,” Gregory said. “We started small and local, and have been able to branch out over the years, attracting talent from further away to bring to KTC audiences. But at heart, we are still a local theatre that is deeply invested in our community, always trying to find new ways to bring people through our doors and share space.”