Scholarship fundraiser offers a night of horror

Wickenburg Chamber of Commerce Education Committee Chairman Stephanie Fornoff stands with Katie Ames, center, and Ilse Murillo, recipients of last year’s scholarships from the committee.

By Shawn Byrne

Sun Editor

The Wickenburg Chamber of Commerce Education Committee’s Scholarship Committee “would like … to take you on a strange journey.”

After rewarding two Wickenburg High School seniors this past school year with $500 scholarships each, the committee is offering its third annual night at the Saguaro Theater for a showing of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” on Oct. 28 as a fundraiser for its scholarship fund.

“When I was originally tasked with coming up with a fundraising event to increase scholarship funds, I thought ‘what is something that hasn’t been done in Wickenburg before?’” said Stephanie Fornoff, chairman of the chamber’s Education Committee. “(What) can be an annual event with few expenses and would engage a broad cross-section of residents?”

With those thoughts in mind, Fornoff approached Brian Deveny, owner of Saguaro Theatre in historic downtown, about hosting a night for “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”

“He decided to take the risk with us,” Fornoff said. “He generously allows us use of this theatre. Ben, Abby and the Saguaro staff are thoughtful hosts, providing concessions to attendees and assistance to the committee members.”

The movie features audience participation, and Sharon Rhymer doesn’t miss a beat when it comes to watching the cult classic.

“It’s only once a year, which is probably a good thing,” Rhymer told The Sun. “It’s so outrageous it’s ridiculous.”

Rhymer is an unabashed fan of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” and when it’s showtime she’ll have already checked a props list on the internet to be certain she hasn’t forgotten anything. That list includes a copy of The Sun for when it’s raining, water bottles in order for it to rain, and rice for the wedding.

“A couple of friends and I let all inhibitions go and have such a great time,” she said. “They have to do a lot of cleanup, so we appreciate what they do for us.”

The scholarship has ebbed and flowed ever since Geri Hamersley started the Wickenburg Chamber of Commerce’s Education Committee scholarship award approximately 30 years ago. The scholarship jumped from a single $200 award to two $500 awards this past school year because of the movie night that raised about $2,000 the previous two years.

Katie Ames and Ilse Murillo earned the $500 awards. Since the Chamber of Commerce represents the local business community, it recently added an element asking students to either participate in an internship, attend a career fair, complete the Wickenburg Leadership Institute, or volunteer 40 or more hours with a local nonprofit or business – to encourage involvement of scholarship applicants within the business community, Fornoff said.

Rhymer would be more than happy to support any movie to help raise funds for scholarships, but she’s absolutely thrilled the movie is “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”

“The kids are so deserving,” she said. “When I first saw the movie, I was in college with friends from NAU, and we went to the Valley Art Theatre in Tempe.”

The Saguaro Theatre and Valley Art were built at the same time and are mirror images of each other. That makes it even better for Rhymer.

“It’s totally fun with that history,” she said. “The Saguaro Theatre deserves credit. They are fabulous for letting them do it.”

Tickets can be purchased in advance at the Chamber of Commerce, 216 N. Frontier St.  They are $5 for general admission and $20 for VIP seating. VIP seats are guaranteed seats in the first six rows of the theatre and are given a prop bag, which will also be sold at the door for $5. Prop bags include newspapers, squirt guns, playing cards, toilet paper and more for audience participation.

Tickets can be purchased at the door, but the price increases $5, so it will be $10 for general admission and $25 for VIP. A Rocky-themed costume-contest for cash prizes and a 50/50 drawing will also take place.

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