Spring brings signs of life to Bonnie Kate

John Thompson • Updated Mar 7, 2017 at 10:57 PM

ELIZABETHTON — A lot of hard work has been devoted to the 90-year-old Bonnie Kate Theater since it was acquired from the banks holding its mortgage last year.

But perhaps the surest sign there is new life in the building are the coming appearances of Earnest, Snow White, a symphony, young storytellers and Belle.

The Bonnie Kate was rescued by the largest fund-raising event in the history of the Elizabethton/Carter County Community Foundation. At the time, members of the foundation said work would begin on making the former movie theater into a community center for the performing arts.

But the fundraising has not ended.

Marcia Ross, board member and program coordinator for the Bonnie Kate, said there are still plenty of things to do inside the old theater, such as installing stage lights and seating.  

Despite those needs, five performances are set for this spring, with the proceeds from the gate going to purchase temporary stage lights. Also, a call has gone out for any serviceable but discarded chairs that can be used to provide seating for the audience.

The first event of the spring season will be Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest” by the Hopwood Players on March 24 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10.

An event for children is the Youth Theater’s “Snow White and the Seven and a Half Dwarfs” at 3 p.m. on March 25. Admission to this special event is free and a reception will follow.

Another performance for children is set for March 29 at 2:30 p.m. It is Story Time Performances with the Knoxville Symphony Strings Ensemble. Admission is free. The event is sponsored by the Elizabethton/Carter County Public Library.

High school students will get into the act on April 7 and 8 with the Elizabethton High School Advanced Drama presentation of “Once Upon a Time … Bedtime Stories (As told by our Dad)( Who messed them up).” The performances will be at 7:30 p.m. on April 7 and 3:30 p.m. on April 8. Tickets are $5 and are available at the Bonnie Kate.

The final event of the season will be “Belle’s Ballet & Tea Time. The Story of Beauty and the Beast” on April 29 at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. The event will be at the theater and at the Sugar Love Cafe inside the theater. The event is sponsored by the Elizabethton/Carter County Public Library and the East Tennessee Youth Ballet.

The audience gets to be a part of the play, because it begins with the members of the audience having tea with Belle in the Sugar Love Cafe. After tea they go into the “library,” then to the theater.

Another sign of life in the old theater is the Sugar Love Cafe and Bakery itself.

Shonna Peters is the owner/executive chef for the restaurant at the front entrance to the theater. She said the cuisine is “Southern food, elevated.” As a former nurse, she said she is also sensitive to the needs of people with allergies and other dietary restrictions and will prepare meals to those needs.

To get ready for the events, the theater is holding a “Bonnie Kate Chair Drive Friday from 10 a.m. to noon and Saturday, March 11 from 2-4 p.m.

Ross said people are encouraged to bring their old mismatched chairs to provide seating for the audience. The slogan of the chair drive is “Help us grow, one chair at a time.”

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