Local arts partnership launches with Sinatra, comedy

Published 6:13 pm Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Tony Pace can sing like Sinatra and keep his audience in stitches. He’ll be doing so at the Turnage Theatre Thursday night for what represents the first collaboration between two longtime arts organizations.

The Beaufort County Concert Association and Arts of the Pamlico have teamed up to present BCCA’s concert series at the Turnage. For more than 40 years, BCCA has brought quality entertainment to town. This season represents a move from Washington High School’s Performing Arts Center to downtown, and two organizations working to support one another, along with one of Washington’s greatest assets.

“We were like everybody is trying to do the same thing, so let’s try to do it together,” said BCCA President Alma Friedman. “It’s just an advantage to keep the arts together, to try to keep things downtown where things are happening — we hope — and the atmosphere, the acoustics, in that place are incredible.”

The Turnage is a smaller facility than WHS, but Friedman said downtown restaurants before the show, as well as the early 20th-century theater itself, are a draw for concertgoers and those performing.

“We’re very excited to go to the Turnage, and we do have quite a few new members because we are going to the Turnage,” Friedman said. “We would like it so we have so many (audience members) we have to have them come back for a second night. … I think sometimes changing a venue helps. It’s something new. Some people have told me, ‘I’ve never been to the Turnage and I’m looking forward to being there.’”

Friedman can vouch for Pace, the first performer in the BCCA’s series and the arts partnership. She and husband Stan saw him perform when they traveled to Nashville last year to find this season’s entertainment.

“The seat was shaking, and I thought there was something wrong with Stan,” Friedman laughed. “But he was laughing so hard, he had tears streaming down his face.”

A Las Vegas headliner, as well as voted Best Entertainment Value in Atlantic City, Pace’s show is made up of musical comedy, transformations into offbeat characters and a dead-on impersonation of Ol’ Blue Eyes.

“When you close your eyes, you really think that’s Frank Sinatra on the stage — he’s that good,” Friedman said.

Pace is the first of five BCCA concerts. The price for all five, plus four more reciprocal concerts held by the Craven County Concert Association in New Bern, is $60. Individual tickets to Pace’s performance will be sold at the Turnage door tonight for $25 each.

Friedman said Pace kicking off the season has prompted a lot of positive response, including from people traveling from outside of the area to see his show tonight.

“I’ve had a lot of calls. Evidently people know him, know of him, and people follow him,” Friedman said.

For more information about BCCA performances, visit www.gobcca.org.