Gamble#039;s Saturday surprise brings out big crowd

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Broadway missed out on her, but Greenville is sure glad she came to us. I'm speaking, of course, of Roberta Peacock Gamble, better known to one and all as &#8220Miss Bobbie.”

Last Saturday, the community surprised our very own &#8220grande dame of the arts” with a surprise early 80th birthday blowout.

Nancy Idland clued me in months ago. &#8220Be sure and mark your calendar, Angie,” she whispered to me.

It knew it was an occasion I wouldn't want to miss.

I'm truly sorry for all of you who didn't make it.

It was quite a show, a really big show at the place this lovely lady helped bring back to life, the Ritz Theatre.

Miss Bobbie's birthday show offered a cornucopia of pleasures, including a colorful parade featuring a circus strong man and a &#8220hula boy,” clowns, dancers and miniature band members; lovely ladies in Sunday hats sashaying by, and spirited vocal performances by many of Miss Bobbie's former students.

And there were all those memories: funny, poignant, wonderful remembrances of life with Miss Bobbie.

Carolyn Messina gave a hilarious spot-on performance as the disembodied voice from the heavens, a.k.a. Miss Bobbie, ruling the roost from her perch in the balcony.

Cindy Burkhalter proved she could do a lot more than efficiently run the front office at Greenville High with her lovely interpretation of &#8220People Will Say We're in Love.”

Tom, Joe, Stacy, Donna, Frank, Sabrina and DeeDee all did a great job, too, along with all the talented members of what I will dub the &#8220Old Gym Chorus.”

Jean Bauer, who was one of the ladies parading in her Sunday best during &#8220Put On Your Sunday Clothes” confided to me Friday night's rehearsal hadn't exactly gone as planned.

&#8220It was pretty rocky,” Jean told me.

Bad dress rehearsal – great show. That old adage certainly rang true.

There was laughter, there were tears; the applause rang loud and clear through that lovingly restored theatre, as hundreds rose to their feet in honor of a lady whose talent, style, charisma and professionalism made a lasting mark on the community she adopted as her own.

I have to agree with my cousin Rock. We all ought to offer a prayer of thanks for Judge Gamble, Bobbie's beloved &#8220Bub,” for bringing his new bride here to this sleepy little Alabama town.

The Great White Way's loss was most definitely our gain. The number of people she has touched through her dedication to the arts is amazing.

Long may the peacock reign!

Angie Long is Lifestyles reporter for The Greenville Advocate. She can be reached at 382-3111 ext. 132 or via email at