“Nothing Comes from Nothing” with Donation Scam

by RoxyRegionalTheatre on January 29, 2016

In these cold dreary days of “fall back” patiently waiting for “spring forward” — along with the lack of light which is dearly wanted in the post-Christmas, early winter blahs — we downtown merchants have asked for years that the lights which are put up at Halloween be left up through Valentine’s Day. But, alas, another cry in the dark goes unheard.

A kind soul (or so we thought) searched us out to endow us with a gift of $30,000, a welcome surprise indeed. He said his mother, who had recently passed, had loved the theatre, and he wanted to share his inheritance with the Roxy.

We asked, looking in the mouth of that gift horse, why us? I thought, perhaps while passing through, maybe a production touched her. I invented in my mind all good things, remembering my New Year’s resolution. He did not reply. He asked only to let him know when we deposited said check.

The check arrived, not for $30,000 but for $39,850 — odd. Even the generous have a limit and few people (other than Monopoly cards) make a $9,850 error in your favor. The next email would have been along the lines of, “Oh, my bookkeeper made an error; please reimburse the $9,850 with a cashier’s check.” This seemed, of course, too good to be true.

And it was. It was a scam to get from us $9,850. We have learned many Tennessee nonprofits have been scammed — sad. Sad, too, when you think of the Tennessee gentleman who won the then-largest Powerball in the state and uses it to support theatres: theatres like the Goodman and Steppenwolf in Chicago, both great theatres and both out of state, who have a long history, an enormous financial base and heavy endowments.

A $30,000 gift would have been a godsend, but like a lyric from The Sound of Music, “nothing comes from nothing.”

Our latest something is “Martini Night,” our traditional martini and show offering for Valentine’s Day, having previously featured Frank Sinatra, Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, Fats Domino and others.

This year’s patrons can enjoy a pre-Valentine’s soiree at 7pm on Saturday, February 13, featuring gin and vodka martinis (or non-alcoholic punch or coffee) with heavy hors d’oeuvres (antipasto, smoked mesquite BBQ meatball sliders with caramelized onions, teriyaki chicken pops with Bangkok peanut sauce, and custard-filled Italian cream puffs in chocolate dipping sauce) before a performance of Blues in the Night.

Starring Lacey Connell, Dwan Hayes, Mariah Sade Ralph and Phillip Bernard Smith, this Tony-nominated musical revue set in 1930s Chicago features twenty-six hot and torchy numbers covering the range of this indigenous American art form, from Bessie Smith to Duke Ellington, Johnny Mercer, Harold Arlen, Alberta Hunter and more. Tickets to “Martini Night” are $50 per person.

The Vagina Monologues closes this weekend with performances upstairs in theotherspace tonight and Saturday at 8pm. Little Red Riding Hood & Friends plays two final Saturday matinees, tomorrow and February 6 at 2pm.

See you at the theatre!

[John McDonald]

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