MAC masquerade ball brings the fun of art to The Capitol

Art students in Raquel Roy’s class at Maryville High School pose with Katie Gamble, bottom left, executive director of the Maryville Arts Coalition, as they don masks in preparation for the second annual MAC masquerade ball.

Photo by Jolanda Jansma

Art students in Raquel Roy’s class at Maryville High School pose with Katie Gamble, bottom left, executive director of the Maryville Arts Coalition, as they don masks in preparation for the second annual MAC masquerade ball.

On the evening of Oct. 14, an odd looking monster with glowing eyes and steam coming from its nostrils will greet guests entering The Capitol Theatre in Downtown Maryville. He is looking for Alice, who is skipping out of Wonderland for the evening and hosting her own ball to raise money for the arts in Maryville.

The second annual Maryville Arts Coalition Masquerade Ball will be at 7 p.m., Friday, Oct. 14, at The Capitol Theatre. Katie Gamble, executive director of the Maryville Arts Coalition, said the event will give folks the opportunity to see a variety of different disciplines of art, from still art to dance, theater, sculpture and literature, while having a great evening.

As with the first masquerade ball, which was held in spring of 2010, the theme is a piece of literature. This year the focus is on Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and its sequel, “Through the Looking Glass.” Folks are encouraged to dress up for the occasion, although costumes are not required. Masks, however, are a must.

“We’re excited to have our costume and mask contest. We’ll give prizes to the most creative people in the community,” she said.

Gamble said she told the MAC board she wants them to focus on the true classic literature because literary arts are the inspiration for the masquerade balls.

“I’m hoping we have lots of Alices, lots of Cheshire Cats, lots of Mad Hatters. I hope everyone really gets inspired and has a lot of fun because there are so many great characters with this story,” she said. “I think it is going to be really fun.”

Guests will be treated to a reading from actors with the Foothills Community Players. “I’m pretty excited, and I’m looking forward to seeing what their interpretation is,” she said.

Gamble said there will be a couple different dance performances that evening. “One of the modern dances that will be performed is Alice chasing the white rabbit,” she said.

The distinctive sculpture - complete with glowing eyes, and steaming nostrils - that will greet guests as they enter the Capitol Theater is based on the Jabberwocky.

“It is basically a dragon that Alice fights. There is picture of Alice battling the dragon in the John Tittle illustration of the story,” Gamble said. “There is this illustration of the Jabberwocky and Alice in armor. The Jabberwocky, however, is a very proper dragon. He is wearing a waist coat and bow tie.”

Gamble said Mike Janke, a sculptor in Maryville, is creating their version of the Jabberwocky’s head. “It will be a giant Jabberwocky head that will greet patrons as they enter the door,” she said. “We are intending for its eyes to glow and smoke to come from its nostrils. There’s a distinct look that makes it unique.”

Gamble said The Shortwave Society is providing music for the evening. “They have a sophisticated sound but very fun and contemporary.”

Local artists are donating pieces for the silent auction and special items for the live auction.

“We’ll have great food from our caterer, Miss Olivia. The theme for the heavy hors d’oeurves is a Mad Hatter Tea Party spread. We’ll have plenty of fun and festive drinks,” Gamble said.

The upstairs area of the theater will be where folks can go to have professional photographs made. “We are going to have a photo booth stage area for the photos,” she said. “And I’m creating a giant caterpillar and mushroom for the occasion.”

While the masquerade ball raises money to support scholarships for students, the event itself is for guests 21 and older, Gamble said.

Gamble said the idea for a masquerade ball came about in 2010 when the MAC board was trying to come up with a signature fundraiser for the organization. MAC organizes the monthly Last Friday Art Walk in downtown Maryville. Since the board’s formation, however, they have been working toward providing annual scholarships for graduating seniors at area high schools who are pursuing art as a career. This year was the third year scholarships have been awarded.

“The board really felt like we needed a signature fundraiser that both raised money and fit with our goals as an organization, which is to promote the arts. We realized we needed to raise funds to do all the things we were doing for the community,” she said. “This ball does both and is a fun way to raise funds: We celebrate the arts and raise money for our cause.”

Last year’s inaugural event was in February, to coincide with the Mardi Gras season. “But we found out quickly it was difficult for people to find costumes and the timing didn’t fit well in the community schedule of established fundraisers. We didn’t want to step on toes and get too close to any other organization’s event,” she said.

The first masquerade ball was held at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church and while the community supported the affair, Gamble said MAC board members learned many things from their first outing and decided to move it to October.

“We want people to look forward to this ball each fall and help make it a super success for MAC, the scholarship fund and the community.”

In keeping with the MAC mission, the ball also needed to promote as many arts as possible, said Gamble.

“That’s how we ended up with the masquerade ball idea. We tried to really support all disciplines of the arts - visual, theater, dance, music and literary arts,” Gamble said. “Each year we take a classic piece of literature for inspiration. It will always be a masquerade ball, but the theme will change each year as the inspiration changes.”

Last year’s literary inspiration was Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Making a return performance in a different persona this year will be Maryville actor David Dwyer as the master of ceremonies.

“For our second year, David Dwyer will return as our master of ceremonies. He was Puck for ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream,’ last year, and he will be our Mad Hatter who will commence with the Mad Hattering this year, so we’re really excited,” Gamble said. “He is a great inspiration to our all thespians.”

Gamble said one of the main goals of the event and of MAC is to raise money to support young artists.

“We are hoping to have a lot more information available to our guests during the night so they really get a good understanding of what we are trying to do for the community,” she said.

There will be representations of work from students throughout Blount County. “There are some really talented kids in this community and we’ve got to support and encourage them. There is so much concentration on science and math, but the arts are equally important. Kids who are given the opportunity to experience the arts test better in all curriculum and have learned higher levels of problem-solving and creative thinking.”

Don’t expect a lecture series, however. This night is about fun, said Gamble. “It is not just a party, it is a production. We have a theater performance. We have a dance performance. We have visual arts from local artists with a live and silent auction. There will be live music, so all disciplines are represented at the event,” she said. “The idea is for it to be an overlay of the whole arts experience wrapped in one night.”

Individual tickets are $50, which includes all entertainment, food and a couple of drink tickets. “While $50 may seem expensive, you’re seeing a play performance, dance performance, a live concert, dinner and drinks,” Gamble said. “You couldn’t get all that for less than $50, so it is really a good bargain.”

Tickets are available at Boyd Thomas Clothing, The Market and Blount Today. “We’ll also have special table set up outside the Capitol Theatre for Last Friday Art Walk on Sept. 29, and anyone who buys a ticket during Art Walk gets a free mask. We’ll have a table for people to decorate their own masks.”

Groups of eight are encouraged to reserve one of the few tables left for $500 to ensure they can sit together. The $500 includes tickets for eight, eight masks that will be on the table.

For more information about the event or Maryville Arts Coalition, go to or email

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