By Mike Tarzis, North Texas Chapter of the American Theater Organ Society
Sometimes, great ideas just happen. Shortly after the vintage 1926 Wurlitzer Theater Pipe Organ was installed in the McKinney Performing Arts Center, members of the North Texas Chapter of the American Theater Organ Society (NTC-ATOS) had some decisions to make about just what kind of programs they wanted to present to showcase this rare instrument. One chapter member had an idea, but he didn’t know if he could pull it off. He knew of two very gifted musicians, each famous in his own right, but they had never played together. At least I wouldn’t hurt to ask. Well, the two artists agreed, and you might say a bit of musical history was born.
Now, with almost 100 concerts under their belts, Dave Wickerham and Dick Kroeckel have performed together all over the country to rave reviews. On Sept. 20, these two keyboardists will once again bring their talents to the McKinney Performing Arts Center where their creative partnership began. Dave has taken his mastery of the theater organ all over the world, playing to sold out houses from Europe to Australia. Dick has been called by one music publication, “The greatest saloon piano player alive today”. Individually they can keep an audience spellbound. Together they bring down the house.
This year’s event, “Red White and Blue, an American Musical Review,” will feature the type of music that made them famous, an entire evening of home grown hits with an eclectic mix of everything from Scott Joplin to Star Wars. The duo’s own unique arrangements are designed to highlight each other’s talents. Dave has the ability to make use of every bell and whistle the giant Wurlitzer has to offer. Dick’s piano finger work would be amazing for a man half his age. They are as much fun to watch as to listen to. Their “I wonder what’s going happen next” approach to the music is a pure delight, as it sometimes seems they are making things up as they go along; ad libbed, maybe, but always flawless, and highly entertaining.
The program will be presented Saturday, Sept. 20, at 7:30 p.m. Due to the overwhelming popularity of this show, a sellout is anticipated, so early reservations are recommended. Adult tickets for the event are $12 in advance, or $14 at the door. Kids tickets are priced at $5 in advance, or $7 at the door. Seniors over 65 are admitted free, but tickets are required. Reservations can be made by calling the McKinney Performing Arts Center box office at (214) 544-4630.
More information about this performance, the soloists and the NTC-ATOS organization is available on their website, www.ntc-atos.org.
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