This side of the Fringe

Even without the sword, Kate Murray was a commanding presence with her trademark enthusiasm and wit. — File photo by Ralph Stewart

When Kate Murray and Ellie Parece put their heads together, who knows what zany ideas may emerge, although it’s safe to say that creativity and fun will be ingredients. Lifelong pals, Ms. Murray is director of the theater program at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School, where Ms. Parece works in the guidance office. Ms. Parece’s daughter Kristen, MVRHS 2011, is in the theater program.

In August, Ms. Murray will lead a troupe of high school actors to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, where they will perform “The Secret of the Seven Sisters,” an original 90-minute musical written by Ms. Murray with help from her students and Island Theater Workshop.

The trip is sponsored by BravEncore, the community organization that was formed three years ago to support the arts at MVRHS, which were threatened by budget cuts at the time.

Including student actors, teachers, and chaperones, some 20 people will make the trip. To help push fundraising over the top, nine Island men agreed to make fools of themselves, and offer up valuable services, last Thursday night at Mediterranean restaurant where they gave new meaning to the “live” part of a live auction called Men in Kilts.

The kilt-clad lads were introduced by Ms. Murray and auctioneer Buck Martin, who described their heritage and the services they would offer to winning bidders. One of them claimed some Scottish blood, several had been there, and the rest claimed to know where it was. After they squired the winning lassies on the dance floor later in the evening to the tunes of Christopher Robin and friends, they would also provide more valuable and memorable services — like French lessons, oil painting instruction, stone wall work, guitar lessons, Red Sox tickets, a fishing trip, architectural consultation, and dinner for four prepared at home by Mediterranean’s executive chef, Doug Hewson. The rest of the auction “items” ranged from age 20 to 70, most of them connected to MVRHS as faculty or alumni. In no known order, they were Andrew Gilmore, John Fiorito, Jim Powell, Paul Brissette, Jake Estabrook, Ben Sprayregen, Ken MacLean, and Julius Lowe.

The crowd was happy to buy into the fun, bidding generously on the game gillies and pushing fundraising ever closer to the final curtain. Bravo, BravEncore!

And don’t forget: contributions are still needed and welcome. Tax-deductible donations may be sent to BravEncore, Inc., P.O. Box 1347, West Tisbury, MA 02575. For more information, visit