It was only last year when Theatre L'Homme Dieu launched a fundraising event called a Summer Soirée. Attendees sported "resort elegant" attire for the celebration, which featured dinner, drinks and entertainment, helping the theater raise more than $100,000.
That figure was easily surpassed last month for the second annual soirée on the theater grounds, with plenty of surprises including an actual fiddler on the roof. A member of JigJam, an award-winning quartet from Ireland, welcomed people by playing atop the TLHD roof, prior to the band performing in the theater's scene shop backstage.
Jim Pence, who is on the theater's board of directors, delivered a speech that articulated the value of the theater. He spoke in detail about the key role the theater has played in the lives of many, including for his wife Jan and him once they relocated in the area.
"Theater is a transformational experience in a too-often transactional world," he told the audience.
Pence, whose career included serving as provost and dean at St. Olaf College in Northfield, said he found the response to his presentation extremely heartwarming.
"I’m a former academic and I’m not used to getting cheers and applause when I talk," he said, adding that he believes people are receptive to doing something to improve the total experience.
In addition to the funds raised that night, Nicole Mulder shared the news of a sizable donation from a longtime summer resident to this area. Helen Morrison recently arranged a $50,000 estate gift.
Morrison and her late husband, Edward, owned the Morris County Tribune newspaper for decades, and have been benefactors to the theater for many years, Mulder said.