Let's Go for Even Bigger!
by Mark Hunter
Two queens, a boy wizard, and an old guy in red socks. Sort of sounds like an odd poker hand. But really it's just one way to describe a small part of the 2017 Foellinger Theatre Summer Concert/Movie Series.
A blend of perennial rocker favorites, nostalgia acts, tribute bands and popular films, the Foellinger series has itself become a perennial favorite, drawing tens of thousands of concert-goers each year from early May through late September. And why not? The theater, a beautiful wooden shell with great sound and excellent sight lines, undergoes continuous improvement each off-season in preparation for the busy on-season waiting in the wings.
Performers love it. Promoters love it. Fans love it. And in six short weeks, all that love will be reaffirmed.
The series kicks off with Chicago on Thursday, May 18, followed by Kansas the next night and ZZ Top on Tuesday, May 30. But that's just the beginning.
Two of the more highly anticipated shows this summer are undoubtedly the aforementioned queens. The first is Diana Ross, the Queen of Motown. And the second is Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul.
Landing both performers in the same year is a bit of a coup not only for Fort Wayne, but for promoter Peter Kernan of Pacific Coast Concerts as well.
Kernan said he has been working on getting both Ross and Franklin here for a few years. And this year the stars aligned, and in Franklin's case that alignment came none too soon.
"She doesn't tour that often," Kernan said of Franklin. "And she has already said this is probably going to be her last tour. For anyone who has not seen her, this could be their last chance."
The list of scheduled tour dates on Franklin's website ends on Saturday, August 12 with her performance at Foellinger. She does have an album coming out in September, but she has said she will not tour after its release, so it is likely that her Fort Wayne appearance could be if not her last, then close to it.
Now 75, Franklin is one of the top-selling performers of all time. She has won 18 Grammy Awards and has sold more than 75 million records. In 1987 she became the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. With hits such as "Respect," "(You Make Me Feel Like a) Natural Woman," "Think" and "I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You," she cemented her place in R&B, soul and pop music history before the end of the 1960s.
She performed at former President Barack Obama's 2009 inauguration and again at the White House in 2015. In Rolling Stone's list of the 100 greatest singers of all time, Aretha Franklin came in at No. 1.
Diana Ross didn't make that list. But not for lack of trying. Ross's work as the lead singer of the Supremes in the 1960s was enough to earn her the title of Queen of Motown. Her solo career, which she launched in 1970, saw her vie for queen of lots of stuff during the next 47 years. In addition to her stunning vocal talents, Ross had a not insubstantial acting career beginning with her Oscar-nominated turn as Billie Holiday in 1972's Lady Sings the Blues and ending with 1994's Golden Globe-nominated role in the television movie Out of Darkness.
Like Franklin, Ross has a list of hits that stretches beyond the horizon. As a Supreme and as a solo artist, Ross has sold more than 100 million records. With her Supremes bandmates Mary Wilson and Florence Ballard, Ross was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988, a year after Franklin.
Ross performs at Foellinger on Sunday, July 16.
The Foellinger summer season is divided into three categories: there are the concerts promoted by Pacific Coast Concerts, concerts promoted by the Fort Wayne Parks Department and other local groups and a film series, also put on by the parks department.
In addition to Chicago, Kansas, ZZ Top, Aretha Franklin and Diana Ross, Pacific Coast Concerts is bringing Blue Oyster Cult w/special guest Mark Farner on Friday, July 7, The Beach Boys on Thursday, August 3, and The Happy Together Tour (Flo & Eddy of The Turtles; Chuck Negron, formerly of Three Dog Night; The Association; The Cowsills; The Box Tops; and The Archies' Ron Dante) on Wednesday, August 23.
Recently added was Garrison Keillor of A Prairie Home Companion fame.
Keillor (aka the man in the red socks) will bring his homespun humor to town on Tuesday, September 5.
Keillor spent 42 years as host of A Prairie Home Companion, the old-timey radio show on public radio that spun tales around the people of the fictional Lake Woebegone, where "all the women are strong, all the men are good looking and all the children are above average" and brought songs and sketches and good clean fun to millions of listeners each week. A prolific essayist, poet, columnist and songwriter, Keillor is a one-of-a-kind entertainer, a sort of modern-day Mark Twain.
The parks department side of the season is doing something special by presenting the Harry Potter movie series in its entirety. Mitch Sheppard, deputy director of community outreach with the Foellinger Theatre and the Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory, said the Harry Potter movies will showcase new projection equipment which will make showtimes more family-friendly.
"The Harry Potter series will be shown beginning at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 14," she said. "We have purchased a new projector that will allow us to begin the movies earlier than in the past. We don't have to wait until dark."
All eight of the Harry Potter movies will be shown free of charge.
In addition to the boy wizard films, the parks department side of the season is delving into new territory by bringing Christopher Cross and special guest Stephen Bishop to the theater on Saturday, June 10, and Barenaked Ladies on Sunday, July 23.
"Barenaked Ladies represents a little bit of a different demographic than the theater has been serving recently," Sheppard said.
In addition to those two shows, the rest of the lineup includes: Pink Droyd (sponsored by Science Central & WXKE) on Friday, June 16; former Journey frontman Steve Augeri on Saturday, June 17; The Spinners on Saturday, June 24; The Stranger featuring Mike Santoro (a Billy Joel tribute) on Saturday, July 1; The Lettermen on Saturday. July 8; Stayin' Alive (Bee Gees tribute) on Saturday, July 22; Hotel California: A Salute to the Eagles on Saturday, July 29; and BritBeat - 'A Multimedia Concert Journey Through Beatles Music History' on Saturday, August 19.
That's a jam-packed schedule, but Sheppard said there will be more to come. "We're still announcing acts," she said.
And Kernan is as well. The Foellinger Theatre has developed a solid reputation among performers. Bands talk to each other. They want to play places that look good and sound good and where they will have fun. Kernan said the main reason he was able to secure Ringo Starr for the concert series last year was because Ringo's manager called Steve Miller's manager.
"Steve gave the Foellinger a good report card," Kernan said. "He said the Foellinger looks good and sounds good and he had a good time. That was good enough for Ringo."
Friday, April 28
Click on the headings below for full calendars
Click header for complete Things To Do calendar
Concordia Comedy Festival — Concordia Lutheran High School presents a showing of comedy films from middle and high school students, 7 p.m. Friday, April 28, Room 101, Neff Hall, IPFW, Fort Wayne, free, 483-1102
Tapestry: A Day for You — Day of inspiration, renewal and education for women in all stages of life with keynote speaker Ann Curry, 7:30 a.m. Friday, April 28, Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, Fort Wayne, $75, 483-1111
Click header for complete On the Road calendar
Click header for complete Music & Comedy calendar
Blooze Faktor — Blues at Dupont Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-1 a.m., cover, 483-1311
Chris Worth & Company — Variety at Arena Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-1 a.m., no cover, 557-1563
Classic Voice — Variety at The Venice Restaurant, Fort Wayne, 7-10 p.m., no cover, (260) 482-1618
Cougar Hunter — 80s glam rock at The Venue, Angola, 10 p.m.-2 a.m., $5, 665-3922
Expanding Man — Variety at Club Soda, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-12 a.m., no cover, 426-3442
G-Money Band — Blues at Nick's Martini & Wine Bar, Fort Wayne, 8:30 p.m., no cover, 482-6425
Hubie Ashcraft & Travis Gow — Country at Billy's Downtown Zulu, Monroeville, 7-11 p.m., no cover, 623-3583
The Illegals — Rock at Latch String Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m.-2 a.m., no cover, 483-5526
IPFW Bands & Choirs w/Fort Wayne Children's Choir — Classical at Auer Performance Hall, Rhinehart Music Center, IPFW, Fort Wayne, 7:30 p.m., $4-$7, 481-6555
Joe Stabelli — Jazz at Don Hall's Gas House, Fort Wayne, 5:45-9 p.m., no cover, 426-3411
John Curran & Renegade — Country at American Legion Post 241, Waynedale, 8:30-11:30 p.m., no cover, 747-7851
Kat Bowser — Variety at Don Hall's Guesthouse, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-12 a.m., no cover, 489-2524
Rebecca Rego — Americana/country at Two-EE's Winery, Huntington, 7:30-9:30 p.m., no cover, 672-2000
Secret Mezzanine — Variety at Deer Park Irish Pub, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-12 a.m., no cover, 432-8966
String Theory — Acoustic variety at Friendly Fox, Fort Wayne, 6:30-8:30 p.m., no cover, 260-745-3369
Todd Harrold & Nick Bobay Duo — R&B/blues/variety at O'Sullivan's Italian Irish Pub, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., no cover, 422-5896
Trichotomous Hippopotamus w/Trackless, John Fishell — Rock at Brass Rail, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., cover, 267-5303
The Why Store — Rock at Mitchell's Sports Bar & Neighborhood Grill, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m.-2 a.m., $5, (260) 387-5063
Click header for complete Karaoke & DJs calendar
Big Dawg Karaoke w/Brian — Variety at Wrigley Field Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 7-11 p.m., no cover, 485-1038
Bucca Karaoke w/Ashley — Variety at Tower Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., no cover, 436-6310
Classic City Karaoke w/Bryan Lee — Karaoke at Pine Valley Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 9:30 p.m., no cover, 490-9464
Dance Party w/DJ Rich — Variety at Columbia Street West, Fort Wayne, 10:30 p.m., cover, 422-5055
DJ dance party — at Rum Runners, Fort Wayne, 8:30 p.m., ,
DJ Shawn — Karaoke/variety at Club Paradise, Angola, 10 p.m., no cover, 833-7082
Fort Wayne Karaoke — Variety at Tap Haus, New Haven, 9 p.m., no cover, 493-6622
Fort Wayne Karaoke w/Jay — Variety at Coconutz @ Crazy Pinz, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m., no cover, 490-2695
Fort Wayne Karaoke w/Scott — Variety at JR's Pub, Leo, 9 p.m., no cover, 627-2500
Fort Wayne Karaoke w/TJ — at Chevvy's, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., ,
House DJ — Variety at Early Bird's Ultra Lounge, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m., cover, 483-1979
House DJ — Variety at Flashback on the Landing, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m., cover, 422-5292
Karaoke w/DJ Chuck — Variety at DW Bar & Grill, Churubusco, 10 p.m., no cover, 693-8172
Karaoke with Rooster — Variety at Portside Pizza, Columbia City, 9 p.m., no cover, 691-3333
Karaoke — Variety at Coconutz @ Crazy Pinz, Fort Wayne, 9-11 p.m., no cover, 490-2695
Karaoke — Variety at Hamilton House, Hamilton, 9 p.m., no cover, 488-3344
Karaoke — Variety at Beamer's Sports Grill, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-12 a.m., no cover, 625-1002
Karaoke — Karaoke at Wrigley Field Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 7-11 p.m., no cover, 485-1038
Karaoke — Variety at Crooner's Karaoke Bar, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m.-3 a.m., no cover, 486-1979
Rockstar Karaoke & DJ w/Scotty — Karaoke at Backway Lounge, Angola, 10 p.m., no cover, 665-5081
Shooting Star Prod. w/Barbie — Variety at Uncle Lou's Steel Mill, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., no cover, 436-5787
Sidecar Gary's Karaoke & DJ — Karaoke at 4 Crowns, Auburn, 10 p.m.-2 a.m., no cover, 925-9805
Sidecar Gary's Karaoke & DJ w/Kevin — Variety at Danny's Italian Grill, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-12 a.m., no cover, 484-4444
SureShot Karaoke w/David — Variety at The Green Frog Inn, Fort Wayne, 9:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m., no cover, 426-1088
Three Rivers Karaoke — at Bottle and Bottega, Fort Wayne, 8:30-10:30 p.m., no cover, 494-1020
Click header for complete Stage & Dance calendar
Funny Little Thing Called Love — Romantic comedy by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Home and Jamie Wooten, 7 p.m. dinner, 8 p.m. curtain, Friday-Saturday, April 28-29 and May 5-6 and May 12-13, Arena Dinner Theatre, Fort Wayne, $40 (includes dinner & show), 424-5622
The Little Mermaid — Fort Wayne Civic Theatre musical based on the Disney movie, 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, April 28-29; 2 p.m. Sunday, April 30; 8 p.m. Friday, May 5; 2 p.m. & 8 p.m. Saturday, May 6; 2 p.m. Sunday, May 7, Arts United Center, Fort Wayne, $17-$29, 424-5220
Little Shop of Horrors — IPFW Department of Theatre performance of Alan Menken-Howard Ashman musical comedy, 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, April 28-29, Williams Theatre, IPFW, Fort Wayne, $5-$18, 481-6555
Next to Normal — Tony Award- and Pulitzer-winning musical about coping with mental illness, 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, April 28-29; 2 p.m. Sunday, April 30; 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, May 4-6; 2 p.m. Sunday, May 7, Three Rivers Music Theatre, Fort Wayne, $10-$20, 498-2270
The Taming of the Shrew — William Shakespeare’s now somewhat controversial comedy about the battle between the sexes, 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, April 28-29 and Friday-Saturday, May 5-6; 2 p.m. Sunday, May 7; 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, May 12-13, First Presbyterian Theater, Fort Wayne, $12-$20, 426-7421 ext. 121
A Wrinkle in Time — all for One productions’ adaptation of Madeline L’Engle’s young adult science fiction novel, 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, April 28-29; 2:30 p.m. Sunday, April 30; 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, May 5-6; 2:30 p.m. Sunday, May 7, PPG ArtsLab, Auer Center for Arts & Culture, Fort Wayne, $11-20, 422-4226
Click header for complete Movie times
Click header for complete Art calendar
37th National Print Exhibition — Juried exhibition featuring contemporary printmakers from around the nation, Tuesday-Sunday thru May 5, Artlink Contemporary Art Gallery, Fort Wayne, 424-7195
41st SOCA Student Exhibition — Works from students currently enrolled at USF’s School of Creative Arts, daily thru April 30, Weatherhead Gallery, USF Rolland Art Center, University of Saint Francis, Fort Wayne, 399-7999
Diane Allen Groenert — Exhibition of local artist’s Downtown Series and new works, Monday-Saturday thru June 24, West Central Microcreamery & Cafe, Fort Wayne, 415-9293
Echolilia — Works from Timothy Archibald and his autistic son, Eli, Tuesday-Sunday thru June 11, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $6-$8 (members, free), 422-6467
Expressions of Existence — An exhibition of works by artists through history, including Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, Francisco Goya and others whose works have been influenced by disabilities, Tuesday-Sunday thru June 11, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $6-$8 (members, free), 422-6467
Fort Wayne Artist Guild Exhibitions — Works by Alice Siefert at Aldersgate United Methodist Church, Jennifer Caudel at Allen County Retinal Surgeons, Anita Trick, Citizens Square (2nd and 3rd floors), Darlene Selzer Miller at The Einhaus Group for Women’s Health, Patricia Weiss at Heritage of Fort Wayne, Emily Jane Butler at Ophthalmology Consultants (Southwest), Linda Binek at Ophthalmology Consultants (North), Carolyn Stachera at Rehabilitation Hospital of Fort Wayne, John Kelty at ResCare Inc. Adult Day Service, Wiletta Blevins at Town House Retirement, Karen Bixler at Visiting Nurse Hospice and Barb Yoder and Karen Harvey at Will Jewelers, thru April 30, fortwayneartistguild.org.
Fort Wayne Photographers Club — Exhibition featuring local photographers, Tuesday-Sunday thru April 30, Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory, Fort Wayne, $3-$5 (2 and under, free), 427-6440
Glass: A Medium in Art and Automobiles — Dale Chihuly blown glass and fiberglass auto, daily thru Sept. 8, Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum, Auburn, $7.50-$12.50, 925-1444
Jan Krist-Finkbeiner — Exhibition of ceramic reliefs, Tuesday-Sunday thru May 5, Artlink Contemporary Art Gallery, Fort Wayne, 424-7195
Juxtapoz Magazine: 25 Years Under the Influence — A chronicle of the iconic magazine’s evolution into one of the most influential magazines of art of the counterculture, Tuesday-Sunday thru July 9, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $6-$8 (members, free), 422-6467
Kathy Funderburg & Diane Schafer-King — Acrylic paintings (Funderburg) and works in marbled paper and fabric (Schaefer-King), Monday-Saturday thru April 29, Orchard Gallery of Fine Art, Fort Wayne, 436-0927
Norman Bradley and Friends — Exhibition of works by friends and colleagues of the late Fort Wayne artist, Tuesday-Saturday thru May 20 , Crestwoods Frame Shop & Gallery, Roanoke, 672-2080
Outdoor Sculpture Invitational — Fifteen outdoor sculptures from regional artists, daily thru April 30, School of Creative Arts campus, University of Saint Francis North Campus, Fort Wayne, 399-7999
Perspectives Live Butterfly Display — Up close and personal perspectives of the Conservatory’s newest collection of live butterflies, Tuesday-Sunday thru June 25, Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory, Fort Wayne, $3-$5 (2 and under, free), 427-6440
Rhoda Gerig: The Hope of Eagles — Photographic images of eagles, daily thru June 4, Clark Gallery, Honeywell Center, Wabash, 563-1102
Robert Williams: SLANG Aesthetics! — An exhibition of new work by the artist considered the godfather of the lowbrow, pop surrealist and colloquial realism art movements, Tuesday-Sunday thru July 23, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $6-$8 (members, free), 422-6467
Sharon — An exhibition of Leon Borensztein photographs chronicling the struggles he faced raising his severely disabled daughter, Tuesday-Sunday thru June 11, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $6-$8 (members, free), 422-6467
SOCA Graduate Program: Student Highlights — Juried exhibition of works by students enrolled in USF’s School of Creative Arts graduate program, Monday-Friday thru April 30, Lupke Gallery, University of Saint Francis North Campus, Fort Wayne, 399-7999
Spring 2017 BFA Exhibition — Exhibition of works by IPFW graduation seniors, daily thru May 3, Jeffrey R. Krull Gallery, Main Library, Allen County Public Library, Fort Wayne, 481-6709
Spring 2017 BFA Exhibition — Senior thesis projects from Bachelor of Fine Arts candidates Brenda Drayer (sculpture), Derek Hibbs (printmaking), Ellen Mensch (painting), Nathaniel Morris (sculpture) and Kyle Snodgrass (sculpture), daily thru May 7, Visual Arts Gallery, IPFW, Fort Wayne, 481-6709
Spring Palette — New original works by more than 50 nationally recognized artists, Tuesday-Saturday and by appointment thru May 20 (Cinco de Mayo Fiesta featuring mariachi music by Mark Meussling 6-10 p.m. Friday, May 5), Castle Gallery Fine Art, Fort Wayne, 426-6568