The Mesquite Toes held their 15th Annual Christmas Benefit Concert on Friday, Dec. 13. Money raised from the show will benefit four Virgin Valley or Beaver Dam High School Seniors, who are studying the arts by way of scholarships. Seniors will be able to apply for the Toes scholarships in the spring of 2020 along with other scholarships that will be available to them.
Many things have changed since the Toes held their last Christmas Benefit, one of them being the venue. In the past, the Toes have always performed their benefits at the Mesquite Community Theater, selling out the house and earning more than $43,000 which has been given to local charities over the years.
This year the Toes changed their venue to Hughes Middle School due to the costs of the Mesquite Community Theatre being raised. The Toes have always been able to have volunteers run the lights and sound to save costs, but this year the Toes were going to have to pay for sound and light technicians. On top of technical fees, the cost of the overall rental for shows and rehearsals would have been so much that they wouldn’t have made anything for the scholarships.
The only qualified person in Mesquite to run the lights and sound in the MCT is Christopher Finnegan, one of two people who purchased, with grant money from the City of Mesquite, installed and designed the system. The other technician is Bob Nelson who has since retired.
Finnegan was of the volunteer technicians who ran the sound and spotlight at Hughes Middle School, Lisa Fahey and Russ Westwood were the other two technicians. The three did a wonderful job despite the limited system at the school and the show did go on.
The number of Toes dancers has changed dramatically this year with the retirement of several of the older ladies for many different reasons. The Toes may be smaller on numbers this year but are still big on talent. The youngest member of the group is 42 and the oldest 83 bringing the average age of dancers to 69. From the youngest to the oldest, these ladies got out there, moved their feet and entertained the crowd like the internationally renowned dancers they are; it didn’t matter if there were four or 40, they all danced their hearts so future performers have an edge to their education.
The Toes have also included outside talent in this year’s show with the addition of the Sun River Dancers and the Sun River Western Dancers who performed two numbers along with vocalist Jan King who entertained the crowd by singing her version of “One Star.”
Pericles Rellas, son of retired Toe Dancer, Claudia Rellas, was the perfect MC entertaining the crowd with zany antics, jokes and informational dialogue about the Toe’s history keeping in the style of Toes founder Vickie Eckman who had to “fill some time” while the dancers changed costumes.
The Toes want to thank all the supporters and donors and especially those who helped make the show a success. Bunny Wiseman, Stage Manager; Technicians Finnegan, Russ Westwood and Lisa Fahey along with John Shoemaker for technical support. Thanks go out to Paul Broussard, longtime Toes Videographer and team photographer Bruce Hughes. A special thanks goes out to their guest performers and especially Hughes Middle School for providing the venue.
For more information on the Mesquite Toes Dancers you can visit their website: www.MesquiteToesTapTeam.com.