The Ottumwa Courier

May 21, 2013

Making memories on stage -- and off

By MARK NEWMAN Courier staff writer
Ottumwa Courier

---- — OTTUMWA — Sold-out shows last year inspired Bridge View Center management to continue finding high-quality acts, they announced Monday.

The venue’s executive director, Larry Gawronski, said last year, booking good, expensive shows was a “leap of faith.” The response meant he could continue booking shows that would be appreciated by Ottumwa audiences. A preview party for the 2013-14 season was a chance for management to show off what they’ve booked.

The South Ottumwa Savings Bank Bridge View Theater Series kicks off in September with five guys from the Big Apple. The Broadway Boys will be Sept. 21. The production puts the performers on stage around the nation signing and dancing to updated, creative takes on Broadway classics.

Another classic? The Amazing Kreskin, who appeared regularly on 20th century TV, will be at Bridge View Center Oct. 25. The mentalist started performing at age 9. He “guesses” birthdays, playing cards and makes predictions that made him famous. But he is most famous, perhaps, for his final act: He allows the venue to hide his paycheck. He once pulled it out of a turkey, once from a man’s dentures and, on several occasions, failed to find it at all.

A Night to Remember, on Nov. 16, will let audiences get a peak into the Memphis studio where, one night in the 50s, a story says that Elvis ran into several other recording legends, including Johnny Cash. The tribute to that event, the audience was told, really will be a night to remember.

The musical Sweet Charity has won awards on Broadway. With the script by Neil Simon, and songs like Hey Big Spender, the show, at Bridge View Center on March 5, is said to be a tender and funny look at love.

Five by Design will be “back by popular demand,” Gawronski said, on March 16. Live! from the Ultra Lounge focuses on the kings and queens of cool. He said the show “takes swing to the next level.”

On the other hand, he said, it’s hard to believe, he said, that such a beautiful, award winning sound comes from a musical group made up of just four voices and a tambourine. The pop, gospel and original music of Tonic Sol-Fa hits the Ottumwa stage on April 12.

Season tickets went on sale Monday night and will be sold through June 30.

Of course, said Gawronski, Bridge View Center has been encouraging local talent, from singers to orchestras to community theater programs. And the 2015 Iowa Tourism Conference, which officials had been hoping to bring to Ottumwa, will be held at Bridge View Center.

Gawronski also played some scenes from last year. One that wasn’t seen a Bridge View, however, was still a good memory for those behind the scenes, he said — and for Monday night’s audience.

It was a quiet video shot by Rudy Gatlin on his cell phone. Before sending the video out on Twitter, he said he was in Ottumwa, that it was Sunday morning, and he was standing midway between the Catholic and Methodist churches. With the bells playing various spirituals, the Gatlin brother, appearing casual and happy, sang along before heading back to Bridge View Center to perform.

To see reporter Mark Newman’s Twitter feed, go to @couriermark.