Saturday, January 31, 2015

Let's put on a SHOW

When it works, it works well.  When it doesn't it's terribly complicated.

Walt is a member of the Board of Directors for Citizens Who Care, an organization which provides help for the frail elderly and their caregivers.

Every year their biggest fundraiser, which provides a huge chunk of their operating budget for the year, is a benefit concert.  

The concert is one of my favorite things each year.

Stephen Peithman, radio host, raconteur, and walkking encyclopedia of music and show business (he hosted a popular program, "Musical Stages" on local radio for many years, where he played a particular show and described its history and anything else relevant about it.  I was always sorry when he stopped) along with Martha Dickman, local chanteuse, put together the show.

They chose a theme--a songwriter, or a producer or some other aspect of the musical stage and then chose songs related to that topic. 

One year, for example, they devoted the evening to songs of the Gershwins, another year to Frank Sinatra, another year to Hoagy Carmichael, etc.  It was a fascinating evening where you heard more than you ever knew about the chosen topic and listened to a lot of familiar tunes, as well as learning some new ones.

Coming back year after year was a stable of some of Davis' finest and most popular performers.  Over the years a couple have dropped out and one has died (along with the guy, Jim Hutchinson, who ran the whole thing behind the scenes), but basically the same 8 performers have returned year after year to donate their time to long hours of rehearsal and two performances in order to support Citizens Who Care.

After Jim died, Walt took over as publicity person and so I've been getting reports from him about what is happening with this year's show.  

Peithman explained that he had the music picked out and was making plans for the show and the cast was raring to go. But his father, whom he wishes a happy birthday each year at the concert (last year he celebrated his 101st birthday) was becoming more frail and required more of Steve’s attention. After he had a nasty fall, Peithman was making more trips to Humoldt County to help and he began to realize that there was a very real possibility that he might have to bow out of the project unexpectedly.

He knew that once you make a commitment it’s difficult to back out and he couldn’t say for certain that he would be able to follow through, so he sadly informed the Citizens Who Care board that they would have to cancel the show this year.

"Citizens Who Care, an organization which is accustomed to dealing with the problems of the frail elderly, has been wonderful and very understanding," he said.. "I love doing the show and performers have loved it, but it just was not going to be possible this year."

Executive Director Joanne Bell said, "The show is our big fund raiser and we rely in the income it generates, so we scrambled around trying to figure out what to do"

Board members Rose Cholewinski, the owner of SwimAmerica-Davis, and Julie Sheehan, General Manager of SwimAmerica-Davis mentioned that there were people on their staff who had done musicals and who might be willing to step in at the last minute and put a show together.

They now have a new cast of singers and dancers, and someone to run it.  I have interviewed Steve and Joanne and am waiting to interview Valerie, the person in charge, to find out what I can about the new show, and the new look.

It will be interesting, and Steve assures me that this is just for one year, so the old guard will be back again next year, but for this year all is confusion as they try to figure out what is what, who is who, and hope that the audience will respond to the change as graciously (and as generously) as they have in the past.

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