Downtown #8216;exciting#039; says Idland

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 12, 2007

&#8220Where do you go when life is making you lonely, you can always goŠDOWNTOWN!”

Nancy Idland, executive director of Greenville Main Street, delivered the opening lines of Petula Clark's famed pop song at the Greenville Lions Club on Monday at noon.

Idland was on hand to update the civic group on the latest downtown events courtesy of Main Street and the upcoming musical fundraiser for the Greenville Area Arts Council, &#8220Puttin' on the Ritz” (with cast members present to share a few musical highlights).

&#8220Sometimes, the most exciting things happen downtown,” Idland said.

This Saturday, April 14, FDA will be hosting &#8220Celebrate the Red, White and Blue” at 6 p.m. in Confederate Park.

&#8220Come out and enjoy the many talented people at FDA. There will be music, art on display and concessionsŠyou can come and enjoy some time outside with your family and friends,” Idland said.

The following weekend, Saturday, April 21, a Sidewalk Sale featuring downtown merchants will be going on all day, Idland said.

&#8220That night, we have a great group, the Alabama Gravy Soppers out of Birmingham,

an acoustic group who will be pickin' and grinnin' in the park.

&#8220We also have some of Greenville's beautiful ladies who will be cutting their hair that evening as donations to Locks of Love (an organization providing wigs for cancer patients),” Idland said.

&#8220My daughter Olivia is one of those cutting her hairŠit's an admirable thing to do and it will be fun to watch them do it all with one great whack,” Idland said with a smile.

Concessions will also be available that night, with all proceeds going to the 2007 American Cancer Society Relay For Life.

And Greenville's downtown gem, the Ritz Theatre, is busy these days, too, as rehearsals continue for the all-singing, all-dancing spectacular, &#8220Puttin' on the Ritz,” slated for 7p.m. on Friday, April 27 and Saturday, April 28.

&#8220We are celebrating saving the Ritz 25 years ago. We have one of Greenville's true diamondsŠrestored due to many grants, donations and a whole lot of blood, sweat and tears,” Idland said.

Idland, who is also executive director of the GAAC, said the group had been trying to persuade Miss Bobbie Gamble for 20 years to put on a show at the Ritz like the ones she directed at the Greenville High School.

Idland said Gamble simply &#8220wouldn't give in” until after Gamble's surprise 80th birthday gala last March.

&#8220We put on a small show, pretty quickly put together, but we had such a good time. Miss Bobbie finally said, &#8220I think it's time.'”

The upcoming show, &#8220Puttin' on the Ritz,” is not only a showcase for well known and little known local talents.

It is also an all-important fundraiser for the local arts council, Idland, who is directing the production, stressed.

&#8220This replaces our annual silent auction and gala. Our ticket sales simply do not cover all the costs of bringing quality productions to the Ritz each season,” she explained.

&#8220These productions can cost thousands and thousands of dollars.

So it is important to have events like this so we can keep bringing these wonderful shows to Greenville.”

Lions members and their guests were treated to vocal highlights from the fundraiser, including a powerhouse performance of &#8220My Strongest Suit” by Sabrina Reynolds, a light-hearted &#8220Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend” by Jill Stallworth, and gospel favorite, &#8220I'll fly Away” courtesy of Joni Thomas.

The multitalented Thomas is also making a complete selection of costumes for the &#8220Oklahoma!” section of the show, Idland said.

Songs from nine Broadway hits from &#8220Hello, Dolly” to &#8220Hair” will be featured in POTR, along with pop hit &#8220On Broadway” and three tunes from the hit movie &#8220O Brother Where Art Thou?”

&#8220We have some fabulous costumes, great talent - everyone needs to buy a ticket to this show,” Idland enthused.

Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for students. Twenty percent of the ticket sales go to the City of Greenville; the remainder will go to pay artistic fees for the upcoming arts council season.

Among the offerings for the 2007-2008 GAAC season: The famed Preservation Hall Jazz Band of New Orleans and a delightful musical spoof of recent Broadway hits.

&#8220We have a wonderful show planned and everyone needs to come out and be a part of at least one of these evenings - or join us for both nights,” Idland said.