Doo Wop sounds to sweeten Center fundraiser

The Brooklyn Bridge headlines a bopping trip down memory lane

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With no little irony, The Brooklyn Bridge and their million-selling doo wop record “The Worst That Can Happen” will highlight a weekend of fundraising performances as the Center for Performing Arts at Rhinebeck continues its hurricane recovery.

So get your dancing shoes on for “The Best of Doo Wop,” billed as “a weekend of music that will knock your socks off!”

For three nights, Aug. 24-26, the Center will be filled with the rollicking sounds and sights of the ’50s and the ’60s. The premiere group, The Brooklyn Bridge, will headline on Saturday night, Aug. 25.

This time of year is particularly meaningful to the Center – a year ago, Hurricane Irene struck and caused catastrophic damage to the building. “We were casting about the date of August 28, the anniversary of Irene,” said Lou Trapani, artistic and managing director. “We were looking to find a fundraising event to be around that date.” The date also lines up with the Dutchess County Fair, which makes planning theater events even more challenging. “No one wanted to do a main stage show during Fair week,” Trapani said.

The hero of this tale is singer Johnny Dell, who is personally involved with the Center. “Johnny Dell said, ‘I can get you The Brooklyn Bridge,’” said Trapani.

The Brooklyn Bridge had their million-selling Jimmy Webb record in 1968, they also appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” and they continue to tour four decades later.

Dell came through, much to Trapani’s delight – he said Dell gets the credit for turning this into a world-class event.

The audience at the Center will have a rare opportunity to hear these hit-makers live, along with local favorites Cherished Memories, who will open the show at 8pm.

Tickets for this special evening are $70 and include admission to a special “car hop” themed pre-show reception at 7pm with ’50s-style hors d’oeuvres and a showcase of some of the finest classic cars in the region. “There will be 10 to 20 vintage cars on the lawn,” said Trapani. “It’s going to be fun.”

Saturday’s special event is only one of the must-sees of the weekend. On Friday, Aug. 24, at 8pm, the Center welcomes this year’s winners of the Charlie Morano Lifetime Achievement Award for Musical Excellence. Named for a local drum legend, this year’s honorees are Don Eggery, Charlie Kniceley, Vito Petrocitto Sr., Bobby Parrella, Ernie Bruno and Ed Husted. Their performances will demonstrate why they are celebrated across the Hudson Valley.

On Sunday, Aug. 26 at 3pm, audiences can catch Woodstock’s own doo-wop masters The Phantoms, with Times Square at their opening act.

“All of these are a capella groups,” said Trapani. “It’s going to be a big fundraiser. The whole weekend is a fundraising event.”

The events are all co-sponsored by Fox Oldies, whose radio jock “Buffalo Bob” Corsino will be on hand Saturday and Sunday to emcee.

The week itself will be an exciting and busy time for the Center’s staff. “That whole week, we’re at the Dutchess County Fair,” Trapani said. “It’s a big initiative, promoting the Center at the Fair. Promoting each show, selling tickets … it’s going to be a big deal.”

It may be more important than ever for this fundraising weekend to be a smash, he added, because the Center has still not recovered from Irene’s wrath. “Usually, our big fundraisers haven’t been very successful. We never grab a good date, ” he said. “ But so far, the response has been good. We’re still in debt, and the work is not all done.”

Trapani said there is one more recovery step that has to happen, and it will be completed by the first week in September. “We’re without any back-up generators, no pumps,” he said. “Everything is being installed right now.”

Tickets for the Friday and Sunday performances are $26 for adults, $24 for seniors. For reservations, call the Center’s box office at 845-876-3080 or go online at www.centerforperformingarts.org. The Center is located at 661 Rte. 308, three miles east of the village center in Rhinebeck.

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