By Matt Mattei - [email protected]

Pints, Pinot and Performing Arts to benefit Kirby Center’s youth program

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Former founding member of The Badlees and accomplished solo songwriter Bret Alexander will be the final featured performer in a lineup of talented local musicians for Kirby Fest.
Times Leader file photo
Executive director of the F.M. Kirby Center, Will Beekman, said Kirby Fest is about showcasing local arts and businesses while supporting a good cause.
Times Leader file photo
Susquehanna Brewing Company, of Pittston, will be among a variety of breweries and wineries offering tastings during Kirby Fest on April 22.
Times Leader file photo

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    WILKES-BARRE — The F.M. Kirby Center is one of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s most reliable and consistent sources of live entertainment, booking and hosting an average of 120 programs a year over this season and last.

    On Saturday, April 22, the downtown theater will present another evening of intrigue. But this time, it’s asking residents to give back.

    The inaugural Kirby Fest: A Night of Pints, Pinot and Performing Arts will take place from 5 to 9 p.m. in various sections of the theater at 71 Public Square.

    Tickets cost $50 in advance — $45 in advance for Kirby members — and $60 the day of the fundraiser.

    Ticket prices include beer, wine and food tastings as well as live entertainment.

    Kirby Center executive director Will Beekman credits membership and corporate sponsorship manager Joell Yarmel and director of development Lauren Pluskey McLain with creating the event.

    Both Yarmel and Pluskey McLain have previous experience in the nonprofit sector but are relatively new to the Kirby family, arriving in July and August, respectively.

    “One of the the first things they said when they got here was ‘Why don’t we do an annual fundraiser?’ and I didn’t have a good answer for them,” Beekman said.

    Beekman noted that while general fundraising for the Kirby Center is also an important part of maintaining the nonprofit theater, he loves the idea of a community-engaging event that focuses on a particular aspect of programming.

    “Specifically, every penny is going toward art and education,” Beekman said.

    The funds will allow the Kirby Center to continue its Young People’s Theater Series, which showcases five stage adaptations of children’s titles each year, free of charge, and stresses educational elements.

    With the beneficiary decided, Pluskey McLain and Yarmel went to work on a theme.

    “Not to criticize other fundraisers,” Pluskey McLain said, “but they can be boring. We wanted to do something fun.”

    Restaurants and specialty food distributors like Rodano’s, Hartman Jerk and iGourmet will offer samplings to patrons.

    Breweries, including Susquehanna Brewing Company and Benny Brewing Company, will be on hand with tastings of their products, and wineries such as Bartolai Winery and Nimble Hill Winery will do the same.

    “When you walk in, you’ll see over 20 vendors,” Yarmel said. “They’ll all have their own table, and everyone will give samples, but some will have products to sell as well.”

    Live entertainment will be provided by A.J. Jump & Nick Driscoll, John Smith, Kate Hearity, Charles Havira, Jamie Anzalone and Bret Alexander.

    “We’re a community performing arts center,” Beekman said. “We’re all about showcasing locals arts and local businesses all while supporting a good cause.”

    Performances will begin at the top of every hour and will take place in both upstairs and downstairs lobbies.

    “Bret Alexander is going to wrap it up for us, which is really nice of him,” Beekman said of The Badlees founder and vaunted songwriter.

    Visual artist Alana Allan, photographer Brittany Boote and cartoonist Bob Heim will have work on display throughout the venue.

    “We really wanted to show off the theater too,” Yarmel said.

    The stage will be set up with tables and chairs where patrons can sit and enjoy their food and drink.

    “We thought, instead of having artists play on the stage, we’d use the stage for people who don’t usually get to go on the stage,” Beekman said.

    Signed music memorabilia from the Kirby’s collection— including a bottle of Remy Martin autographed by blues legend Buddy Guy — will be displayed along the walls in the theater and will be auctioned off.

    Pluskey McLain said the venue-wide party and celebration of art was designed to attract curious folks as well as regular patrons.

    “We’re hoping we get people who haven’t been to the theater before to come in,” she said.

    Former founding member of The Badlees and accomplished solo songwriter Bret Alexander will be the final featured performer in a lineup of talented local musicians for Kirby Fest.
    http://theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/web1_BriggsBluesFest_2.jpgFormer founding member of The Badlees and accomplished solo songwriter Bret Alexander will be the final featured performer in a lineup of talented local musicians for Kirby Fest. Times Leader file photo

    Executive director of the F.M. Kirby Center, Will Beekman, said Kirby Fest is about showcasing local arts and businesses while supporting a good cause.
    http://theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/web1_TTL32616BestMusicVenue2.jpgExecutive director of the F.M. Kirby Center, Will Beekman, said Kirby Fest is about showcasing local arts and businesses while supporting a good cause. Times Leader file photo

    Susquehanna Brewing Company, of Pittston, will be among a variety of breweries and wineries offering tastings during Kirby Fest on April 22.
    http://theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/web1_WBW030916SBCLWYM1.jpgSusquehanna Brewing Company, of Pittston, will be among a variety of breweries and wineries offering tastings during Kirby Fest on April 22. Times Leader file photo
    Theater to host night of food, drink, arts

    By Matt Mattei

    [email protected]

    IF YOU GO

    What: Kirby Fest: Pints, Pinot and Performing Arts

    Where: F.M. Kirby Center, 71 Public Square, Wilkes-Barre

    When: 5 to 9 p.m. April 22

    Ticket information: Tickets cost $50 in advance — $45 in advance for Kirby members — and $60 the day of the event. Non-members can purchase tickets in advance at bit.ly/2pfXJpg. Kirby members must purchase advance tickets at the Kirby Center box office or by phone at 570-826-1100.

    Reach Matt Mattei at 570-991-6651 or on Twitter @TimesLeaderMatt.

    Reach Matt Mattei at 570-991-6651 or on Twitter @TimesLeaderMatt.

    IF YOU GO

    What: Kirby Fest: Pints, Pinot and Performing Arts

    Where: F.M. Kirby Center, 71 Public Square, Wilkes-Barre

    When: 5 to 9 p.m. April 22

    Ticket information: Tickets cost $50 in advance — $45 in advance for Kirby members — and $60 the day of the event. Non-members can purchase tickets in advance at bit.ly/2pfXJpg. Kirby members must purchase advance tickets at the Kirby Center box office or by phone at 570-826-1100.