HUNTINGTON — Get ready to make memories that last a lifetime Friday with Marshall University men’s basketball coach Dan D’Antoni at the Hillbilly Ball, a fundraiser for the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center.

A twist on D’Antoni’s signature style of basketball play, the Hillbilly Ball is a casual night of food, drinks and friends hosted by Coach D himself. The ball is the largest fall fundraiser for the Keith-Albee.

“It’s a party,” D’Antoni said. “Life is about making memories — good memories, and if it’s about saving the Keith-Albee, it will be a memory to last a lifetime.”

The Keith-Albee was built in 1928. Thomas Lamb, one of America’s foremost theater architects, designed the Keith-Albee in the ornate Spanish Baroque style. The Keith-Albee is one of the last remaining Lamb “atmospheric” theaters — that is, it looks like patrons are sitting under a sky of twinkling starts.

“It’s hard to save eight, seven, six, five, four theaters but when you get down to one or two, then you have a national treasure,” D’Antoni said. “Normally, as most life is, no one recognizes what’s good until it’s gone. Sometimes people intervene and don’t let that happen. Bob Plymale and people who have been longtime patrons realize its value and connect to the community and university that we use something that is very valuable.”

The Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center Foundation is currently in the middle of a restoration campaign, hoping to restore all of the seats in the theater. But Plymale, co-president of the foundation board of directors, said he’s referring to the Hillbilly Ball as a sustainability campaign.

“To keep the doors open, we need to raise a significant amount of money because we no longer have any tenants,” Plymale said.

The Autism Services Center moved out of the upstairs of the Keith-Albee to a larger space last year. Plymale said the loss has made it hard on the operational budget.

He said they would also like to expand past the 40 shows at the venue a year, and have more summer programing and children’s programing.

“We appreciate Coach D’Antoni being able to host the event and use Hillbilly Ball as the tagline for the fundraiser,” Plymale said. “He has been excellent to work with, as always. We appreciate his community spirit and willingness to help us.”

Along with food and drink, the ball will have an auction with items like season basketball tickets and jars of honey that was made from bees found inside the walls of the Keith-Albee. The jars are signed by artists like Jay Leno and Frankie Valli.

The Hillbilly Ball is from 7 to 11 p.m. Friday, Oct. 11 at the Keith-Albee. Tickets are $100 and come with a complimentary Hillbilly Ball wine glass. Sponsorships are also available. Contact Terry Deppner Hardin at 304-617-4285 or terrydeppner@gmail.com.

Follow reporter Taylor Stuck on Twitter and Facebook @TaylorStuckHD.

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