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Friends Of Edmond Town Hall Invites Everyone To Its First Annual Gala



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Nonprofit group Friends of Edmond Town Hall is planning a “night of fun and entertainment” for their first annual gala on Saturday, May 4. The event will be held in the Alexandria Room at Edmond Town Hall and run from 7 to 10 pm.

The theme for this year is “A Formal Affair” and people are encouraged to dress up in semi-formal cocktail attire.

The gala will feature live entertainment, a cash bar, and a photo booth. Award-winning caterer STF Catering, LTD, will serve passed and stationary hors d’oeuvres while Good Old Days Pizza will prepare complimentary signature cocktails and mocktails.

There will also be a raffle and live auction, with various prizes such as donation baskets, Pilates classes, a private couple sound bath, 18 holes of golf for four people with carts, a dinner for eight with home service, and much more.

Tickets are currently available for $125 at friendsofeth-gala.org. Group discounts are also available.

This event has been a long time coming for the Friends, as the funds from the gala will go towards renovating the dressing rooms at Edmond Town Hall. The dressing rooms have been in poor condition for quite some time according to Friends co-chair Julie Brunelle.

The furniture that lines the rooms, from the wobbly lights and tables to the worn chairs and carpets, are old and not durable. While a new piece of furniture might rarely get added to try and liven the place up, this just means that the dressing rooms have become a hodgepodge of different and clashing styles over time.

To Gala Chair Marcie Albanesi, this creates a poor environment for any artists performing at the theater.

“I mean I think the town hall should provide an opportunity to enhance the lives of all the people who live in Newtown and surrounding towns. Whether it be through music or theater or comedy, things that they’re bringing in to entertain the community,” Albanesi said. “You want the dressing rooms to really be enhanced and refreshed, but also functional.”

Since these dressing rooms are used by anyone performing at the theater, from local dance and theater companies to comedians and musicians, making the dressing rooms safe, comfortable, and appealing has been a goal of the Friends for a long time.

“Obviously the space and the feeling it gives matters. Not just to the people who are coming through the building, but also to the people who are performing there,” Brunelle said. “So I felt like this was an opportunity for the Friends as a nonprofit to say, ‘Okay, how do we really do this and do this right?’”

Determined to improve the dressing rooms, Brunelle says that she posted on social media asking for help around a year and a half ago. It was that post that led to her connecting with interior designer Bradley Clayton in what she describes as a “stroke of luck.”

Brunelle was initially hesitant since she had no idea who Clayton was. After all, it was important to find the right designer that would respect the age and history of the building. However, after meeting him and one of his team members, everything quickly fell into place.

“It was really his enthusiasm that did it for me,” Brunelle said. “I could just tell that this person cares. They didn’t come as a, 'okay fine, I’ll do the job.’ He was enthusiastic even with the tiniest attention to details.”

Clayton has been working as an interior designer in Connecticut for the past three years, but he had previously worked as one in Philadelphia for twelve years. Since being in Connecticut, Clayton has worked on various projects, such as the green rooms for Park City Music Hall in Bridgeport.

Clayton and his team are working to capture the same design elements and charm that went into founding ETH and bring it into the new era. To that end, Clayton threw himself into researching the history of the building.

“When you design, you also have to take in part of its history,” Clayton said. “So many people want to wash those things away and make it modern. And you know, I watched that happen in Philadelphia, where they took these beautiful buildings, took them down and put up these modern cardboard boxes in their place.”

The new dressing rooms will have pieces that are designed to be timeless and long-lasting. He and his team aim to honor the style of 1920s and 1930s America in both its color palette and the style of the furniture.

“What they chose around thirty years ago were materials that were very industrial and didn’t fit with the charm of the building. It just didn’t have that warmth and felt very out of place. So I think we picked materials that will provide the drama and fit the original whimsy of the building,” Clayton said.

The Friends say that if the gala ends up being a success that it will pave the way for more events like it in the future. All funds from the gala and their other events go towards their mission, which is to bring programming and events to the community at Edmond Town Hall while maintaining the building’s historic identity.

Gala committee and Friends member Jeff Shpunt is happy to contribute to the event and help support Edmond Town Hall however he can.

“Being a lifelong Newtown resident who’s done so many activities at ETH from having birthday parties as a kid to watching dance recitals and movies … it’s great to see the town hall still operating,” said Shpunt. “It’s just something I want to see continue on for my kids and their grandkids. To be able to play a small part in that, it feels good.”

For more information on the gala, including sponsorship opportunities and auction items, or to volunteer or support the Friends of Edmond Town Hall, visit friendsofeth.org, email friendsofeth@gmail.com, or call 203-512-9100.

Reporter Jenna Visca can be reached at jenna@thebee.com.

Nonprofit group Friends of Edmond Town Hall is planning a “night of fun and entertainment” for its first annual gala.
Newtown Stage Co-Founder Erin Loucks, sitting in the stage left dressing room at Edmond Town Hall, has been helping the Friends of Edmond Town Hall organize its upcoming gala, set for Saturday, May 4. The funds raised from the gala will go towards renovating the six dressing rooms in Edmond Town Hall. —Bee Photo, Visca
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