On Saturday, February 25, an inspirational young professionals group – Playhouse Square Partners – hosted its annual Jump Back Ball, a fundraiser to support the not-for-profit mission of Playhouse Square. A crowd of 700 attendees enjoyed “A Night On the High Seas” at the KeyBank State Theatre, raising $70,000.
The theater and lobby were transformed into incredible swashbuckling sets. Guests donned creative costumes, from sea captains to pirates, mermaids to sea sirens. A life-sized capsized ship, named the Jolly Jumpback, devoured by colorful kraken sea monsters served as a centerpiece in the theater lobby. A record number of volunteers worked on creating the decor and building the sets and props weeks in advance.
Proceeds raised from this event benefit Playhouse Square’s education
programs like Disney Musicals in Schools, the Dazzle Awards, Classroom Connections Workshops, as well as making live theater programming more accessible to a wider number of audiences through sensory-friendly programming. Since 1991, the Jump Back Ball has raised $3 million for Playhouse Square’s not-for-profit mission, according to Kristen Jantonio, Communications Manager at Playhouse Square.
Playhouse Square is the second largest performing arts center, after Lincoln Center, in the United States with 11 performance spaces.
Craig Hassall, Playhouse Square’s new president and chief executive officer, who replaced retired CEO Gina Vernaci, said, “Our goal is to cultivate the next generation of supporters of the arts; those under 40
are the next wave.” Hassall, a native Australian, came to Cleveland by way of London, as the former Chief Executive of Royal Albert Hall. “I’ve been blown away by the number of [theater] venues on this scale — it’s amazing. And the audiences have been enthusiastic and lovely,” added Hassall. “It was both the buildings and the trustees, who are so aspirational, that convinced me of making the move to Cleveland.”
“Craig is a visionary and innovator who brings unmatched ability in operations, a broad, international experience base and deep relationships across the performing arts industry,” said Amy Brady, chair of the Playhouse Square Board of Trustees and Chief Information Officer at KeyBank.
Jump Back Ball partygoers enjoyed buffet-style hors d’oeuvres prepared by Driftwood Catering, and sea-themed aqua blue-green cocktails. VIP guests enjoyed musical entertainment by Andrew McManus in the Connor Palace Lobby. The band, Faction Cleveland, played pop covers for an energetic dance party on the KeyBank State Theatre Stage. Late-night ticket holders danced the night away in the KeyBank State Theatre Lobby with sounds spun by DJ Red-I.+ STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY ANDREA C. TURNER