If you had tickets to “A Little Night Music” at the Rodgers Theatre and didn’t attend you missed an exceptional evening.
The fact it was scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 19, and moved to Thursday, Jan. 24, because of the weather may have prevented some from going.
Billed as an evening of classical and popular music to help raise the matching funds for the CDBG Grant recently awarded to Rodgers Theatre, Inc. to renovate the roof, it met every requirement and more.
Local musicians Pam Howard Becker, Cheri Dawe, James Todd and Kirk Mondy were superb as they entertained the crowd with “A Little Night Music.”
The four entertainers, as well as pianist Robin Till and flutist Ruth Ann Newman, impressed the audience.
I was impressed these people care enough to volunteer their time to save and restore this symbol of Poplar Bluff’s history. The Rodgers Theatre was built in 1949 with Art Deco and Art Moderne stylistic elements.
The building provides the venue for a variety of activities such as country, bluegrass, rock, Motown performers, as well as the Stage Company and Dancing with the Stars.
The program featured classical works by Handel, Chopin and Puccini, and selections from Carmen and La Boehme, Broadway tunes such as “Ol’ Man River,” from “Showboat” and “All I Ask Of You” from “Phantom of the Opera,” and popular songs by Willie Nelson, Scott Joplin and Barry Manilow.
The entertainers presented a first-class production injected with humor. They good-wittingly teased each other throughout the evening.
One of the impressive facts is each of these entertainers selected Poplar Bluff and the surrounding area to be their home. They could have lived and performed anywhere and now they are working to save a landmark.
Becker spent her summers singing with the St. Louis Opera Theatre, The Cincinnati Opera Company and The Dayton Bach Society before she married and returned to Missouri with her husband, the late Bob Becker. She is a graduate of Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, where she received a Bachelor’s degree in music education. She received a master’s degree in performance from the University of Missouri in Columbia.
Dawe’s high school years were spent in Durham, North Carolina, where she began formal voice training at Duke University. She studied vocal performance at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, and studied with Marjorie Lawrence, who introduced her to the operatic performance. She sang with the Marjorie Lawrence Opera Theatre for five years.
Dawe is a past winner of the vocal competition of Saint Louis Symphony Young Artists, the District Competition for the Metropolitan Opera, and placed third in the Regional Met Auditions in Chicago. She moved to Poplar Bluff in 1978 with her husband, the late Jerry Dawe, when he became the minister of music at First Christian Church.
Todd is a Poplar Bluff native and sang in the Poplar Bluff High School Concert Choir from 1968 to 1972 and received an Associate of Arts degree in vocal music from Three Rivers Community College in 1981. He spent 23 years in the United States Air Force, where he perform in a wide variety of music venues around the world, from Egypt to Florida to Alaska.
As a youngster Mondy developed a passion for music singing in church and studying piano. He is a graduate of Three Rivers College and Southwest Baptist University where he holds a Bachelor of Music (Church Music) degree. He was a member of the select Collegiate Chorale and Chamber Singers and performed a lead role (Martin) in Aaron Copeland’s opera “The Tender Land.”
Mondy’s greatest musical passion has been church music where he has been involved for more than 35 years. He has led congregational worship, directed choirs, appeared in numerous cantatas and programs and played piano or organ locally since 1982. He continues to play the piano on Sundays at Fellowship General Baptist Church.
Thank you Pam, Cheri, James and Kirk for picking our community to call home.