MCT’S ‘ONE WEEKEND ONLY’ TAKES AUDIENCES ON AN ANNIVERSARY JOURNEY

Cheryl Wilcox, left, and Jimmy Zimmerman perform ‘The Old Folks’ skit from ‘The Carol Burnett Skits’ in honor of Arnie Steinmetz.

If the acts in Marathon Community Theatre’s “One Weekend Only” seem familiar, it’s for good reason.

The theater’s annual fundraising showcase and silent auction, set for Feb. 8-10, will bring more than just an array of dance, music, vocal performances and skits to the MCT stage. To honor the community theater’s 80th year of bringing live entertainment to the Middle Keys, director Marianne Benvenuti’s show features defined segments filled by acts with ties to a prior MCT production through the decades – several of which will see the original talents reprise their roles.

“Being a member for almost 30 years, pretty much since our current building was open, I’ve been witness to some incredible people who’ve been involved in the theater, and I wanted to do them justice,” said Benvenuti, who had planned to direct the anniversary production for nearly two years. “I had Riet (Steinmetz), Claudia (McEwen) and Judi Gorman, who have been here since the ‘70s, to really give me some insight into what happened before they had the theater and what they had gone through.”

Taking the audience on a journey from the 1940s to the present, acts in One Weekend Only pull from big-name musicals like “Godspell,” “Annie” and “The Sound of Music” all the way to original pieces and numbers written by current and former MCT members. Along the way, Benvenuti’s script honors dozens of pivotal figures in the organization’s history, many of whom passed away in recent years after leaving their mark on the historic playhouse.

“There were so many people that we lost recently that I wanted to honor or remember, but I also have people who may not always get remembered, and I wanted to bring them up too,” said Benvenuti. She praised the work of Karen Witte, who since the fall has pored through decades of documents in order to curate a comprehensive review of the theater’s history for display in the playhouse’s gallery throughout the run of the show.

“It’s my hope that when people walk in here, the eight decades are fully on display, whether that’s with posters, photos, costumes, or anything else,” Witte said.

“Karen sent out a letter to a lot of people who moved away, a lot of the people who were here in the ‘90s, ‘80s and ‘70s, and they’re coming back to see the show. It’s going to be like a reunion, but it’s a family reunion,” Benvenuti added. “With Jaimie Roberts and Dion Watson, I can’t have asked for better emcees to make people get excited about hearing a story.”

“One Weekend Only” begins at 7 p.m. this Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Doors open at 5 p.m. for patrons to bid on dozens of silent auction items and gift certificates from throughout the island chain. Tickets to the showcase are $45 and include a complimentary buffet and champagne toast following the show. Purchase tickets at marathontheater.org or by calling 305-743-0994.

Photos by LARRY BENVENUTI/Contributed

Alex Rickert made the perfectly natural career progression from dolphin trainer to newspaper editor in 2021 after freelancing for Keys Weekly while working full time at Dolphin Research Center. A resident of Marathon since 2015, he fell in love with the Florida Keys community by helping multiple organizations and friends rebuild in the wake of Hurricane Irma. An avid runner, actor, and spearfisherman, he spends as much of his time outside of work on or under the sea having civil disagreements with sharks.