In a normal year, community theater group St. Thomas Playhouse would be gearing up for its fundraising Girlfriend Luncheon, which primarily supports the H. Edward Bilkey Memorial Fund, providing tuition assistance to young thespians for the Playhouse’s summer season.

Of course, it’s not a normal year, and current health restrictions all but prohibit largescale in-person events like that. But the Playhouse is a creative organization, and so has found a creative solution to the obstacles it faces.

2021 marks the group’s landmark 20th anniversary, and Managing Director Brett Moellenberg said the Playhouse is committed to seeing it through no matter what. In lieu of the traditional Girlfriend Luncheon, St. Thomas Playhouse is taking to a virtual platform. Over the course of three weeks in February, St. Thomas will release videos online celebrating its 20th anniversary.

The first, set to release Monday, Feb. 1, is a “retrospective of the first 20 years of the Playhouse,” Moellenberg said, highlighting previous productions, summer camps, family programs and other theatrical undertakings and achievements of the nonprofit.

The second video, slated for Monday, Feb. 8, will highlight the Bilkey Memorial Fund and how it helps ensure local children can participate in the Playhouse’s numerous productions and camps throughout the year.

The third video, to be released on Sunday, Feb. 14, will officially announce the four shows that make up St. Thomas’ 20th anniversary summer season, which will begin in June.

“We’re really committed to producing our 20th season however we can,” Moellenberg said. “We’ll do it safely and under whatever guidelines are in place.”

St. Thomas Playhouse, like most local arts organizations, had to call off its 2020 plans. Another year older, though, and the group has had the opportunity to plan for every eventuality and, having implemented several adaptive measures for St. Thomas Episcopal Church’s weekly services, now has greater technological capabilities and expertise.

“It might wind up being modified, but we plan on doing the shows no matter what,” Moellenberg said. “Whether it’s outside or inside, or we put new digital media skills to work—we’ve all learned in this time how to adapt. Playhouse has been going strong for so many years, we can celebrate and appreciate what we’ve been doing.”

For those who don’t want to have to wait until Feb. 14 to learn what shows St. Thomas Playhouse has in store for 2021, community members can explore the Show Hunt, starting Feb. 1. This is a scavenger hunt set up at various locations around Ketchum and Sun Valley. Clues, posted on the Playhouse website, hint to hidden poster announcements, each one revealing a different show in the lineup.

The virtual Girlfriend Luncheon will help with all these undertakings, but the main goal is raising funds to support tuition assistance. Tickets are on sale now for $145. The ticket includes a $45 gift card to one of two local restaurants. The other $100 is a tax-deductible donation. Alternatively, one could forego the gift card, in which case the entire $145 sum is tax deductible. Throughout the virtual series, the Playhouse is also hosting a “Paddle Up!” to raise additional support for the Bilkey Memorial Fund.

Visit www.stthomasplayhouse.org to learn more, and begin hunting around town to figure out which plays are inbound for the 20th anniversary.

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