To promote the opening of the play Around the World in 80 Days, Oddfellows Playhouse is sending the protagonist Phileas Fogg on a journey to the exotic locales of Middletown.
With the campaign Around Middletown in 80 Days, the youth theater hopes to raise money, support local businesses, and engage the community.
“We’re not just advertising a show or fundraising, but we’re also creating a direct connection to the community,” said Matt Pugliese, Managing Director of Oddfellows. “Lots of people who normally don’t interact with Oddfellows are becoming aware of it.”
On every Tuesday from Aug. 25 to opening night on Nov. 13, one Middletown restaurant will be featured as part of the 80-day journey. A portion of each restaurant’s proceeds will be donated to Oddfellows. Puerto Vallarta, which was featured this past Tuesday, donated five dollars for every order of fajitas. Patrons who dine on Tuesday evenings will receive raffle tickets for a prize drawing that will take place during the intermission of the first performance of 80 Days. Gift certificates to Middletown restaurants, shops, laser tag, and an overnight trip to Boston are among the prizes to be awarded.
“I think it’s good for business to keep the community together as a whole rather than competing with each other,” said Ruth Shea, manager of Tuscany Grill, which will be featured as part of the 80-day journey on Nov. 3. “Restaurants in Middletown should pull together.”
According to Pugliese, the promotion benefits restaurants by bringing in additional customers.
“Tuesdays are usually a slow night at restaurants,” he said. “This allows restaurants to increase patrons without increasing their normal costs. The first Tuesday night in Typhoon, there were over a hundred people there.”
Typhoon owner Sarinee Trisub said she was glad that her restaurant, which was featured for three consecutive Tuesdays, could help the community while simultaneously attracting more customers.
“Everything is for the children and the community,” she said. “It would be nice if everybody can come out and support us on the weekdays.”
For each day of the campaign, one event or location in Middletown will be featured on the Oddfellows’s website. On the site, visitors can read historical blurbs about each location. Some places that have been highlighted so far include Indian Hill Cemetery, Amazing Grace Food Pantry, Little Tibet, and the University’s own Zilkha Art Gallery.
“Being that it’s New England, there’s a lot of old roots and lots of history,” he said. “And with Wesleyan, we have a lot of people who have come off campus these past hundred years and built businesses, and created a great place to live.”
Today marks Day 39 of Fogg’s journey. Over the past five weeks, he has interacted with the Middletown residents, supported local businesses, and kept an online journal documenting his adventures.
“To increase the rapidity by which I shall traverse this city, I shall procure a bicycle,” read Fogg’s Day 12 journal entry. “I have found one of the best bicycle vendors in the country. I shall be at Pedal Power all day, being fitted for my bicycle by Gary…By using a bicycle as my method of conveyance, I will be able to shed some of the excess weight I have gained on my gastronomical tour of Middletown.”
Fogg’s next culinary excursion will be at Osaka on Oct. 6 followed by O’Rourke’s Diner on Oct. 13.