A sweet deal

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By Kirsten Laskey

Duane Smith Auditorium is killing two birds with one stone. At 7 p.m. Friday, a pie auction will be held to kick off a fundraising drive for new seats in the auditorium. While the pies are being sold, a number of community organizations including New Mexico Dance Theatre, Dance Arts Los Alamos, Los Alamos High School Jazz Band, LAHS Olions Thespian Club, the Family YMCA, UNM-LA dance classes, Los Alamos Light Opera and many others will take the stage for a variety show, which will showcase 60 years of performance arts in Los Alamos.

“It’s by the community, for the community,” Ross Mason, manager of the auditorium, said. “It’s just a big party for anybody who appreciates the performing arts.”

He explained the variety show is being held in conjunction with Los Alamos’ 60th anniversary.

It is not just Los Alamos that is celebrating 60 years. Duane Smith Auditorium also turns 60 years old this year.

Mason said the auditorium was built in 1949. The Atomic Energy Commission constructed the auditorium, with the intention of making it a civic center for Los Alamos.

After several years, he said, the commission passed stewardship to the school district.

With duo birthdays, it seems appropriate for the auditorium to host this anniversary celebration.

“At the beginning when it was built, this was the center of town … this was the place in Los Alamos (and) it should be again … now it is coming back. As Los Alamos came into the new century, so has the theater. (Its) technology is growing just as fast as the technology in Los Alamos,” Mason said. “It’s really been the focal point in Los Alamos.”

He pointed out that the auditorium is typically booked seven days a week; there is always something going on.

“I never get to go home,” Mason joked.

The variety show will feature what local organizations bring to the auditorium.

“One of the nice things about the variety show is that it has a lot of local talent … we’re all going to be a part of it,” Los Alamos Arts Council Executive Director Marlanne Hamilton said.

With being a popular venue for local organizations, the auditorium needs some care in the form of maintenance.

Renovations started last year and currently Mason said the dressing room is being renovated.

Attention is also being turned to the auditorium’s seats. There are plans to replace the old seats with new sleek reclining chairs similar to ones found in movie theatres.

A sample chair will be displayed during the event.

The pie auction will feature 20 different pies and ceramic pie plates.

Mason said a similar auction was held last year, too.

“It’s a lot of fun,” he said. “The crowd usually has a lot of fun with this thing.”

Hamilton agreed. “I think it’s kind of a fun way to participate in this fundraiser we are doing for Duane Smith Auditorium.”

The pie auction kicks off the fundraiser for the new seats, Mason said. To raise the money, organizations and individuals are encouraged to purchase a seat for $250.

As a tribute to the owners, a plaque with the benefactors’ names will be put on the chair.

Tickets for the variety show cost $15 per person and children age 12 or younger will be admitted for free. Tickets will be sold at the door as well as at the high school central office and the arts council’s office in Fuller Lodge.