PITTSBURG — On Saturday, August 17, the Colonial Fox Theatre will host the 2019 Back to Broadway Celebration. On Monday, sponsors of the event took the stage at the theatre to present checks for funds to make the event possible.
“We last year inaugurated the celebration and it is to really welcome the downtown residents back, the Block22 residents, and then also just to celebrate what’s happening with the downtown revitalization,” said Colonial Fox Theatre Foundation Executive Director Vonnie Corsini.
This year’s Back to Broadway event will feature a performance by the Ben Miller Band at 7 p.m. Blues harpist Jeff Simpson will open for the band. While last year’s event featured outdoor activities, this year’s will focus on the performance at the theatre. Admission is $5 for Block22 residents, Pittsburg State University students, and their families, and $15 for the general public. Tickets are available at colonialfox.org or can be purchased at the door.
“We’re very thrilled and honored to have our sponsors that help us with this,” Corsini said.
Sponsors of this year’s Back to Broadway Celebration include Westar Energy, the Ronald O. Thomas Foundation, the Miller Family Foundation, and the Coleman Family Foundation.
Westar Manager of Operations East Region South RJ Jubber was among those in attendance at Monday's check presentation and spoke to the Morning Sun about the energy company’s support for the Colonial Fox Theatre Foundation, which he said began about five years ago.
“As the theatre has evolved with what they’re doing, the events they’re doing, last year we were approached with the opportunity to invite PSU students with Block22 into the theatre and engage them in the theatre with the Back to Broadway event,” Jubber said. “So we saw that as a great opportunity to introduce more people in the community and especially PSU students to the theatre and what it provides in the way of arts and performance and entertainment to the City of Pittsburg and the residents of our community.”
The Colonial Fox Theatre was originally built almost a century ago, in 1920. Since it started about a decade ago, The Colonial Fox Theatre Foundation has raised over $2 million, which it has invested into restoring the venue.
“We’ve made steady and strategic progress through that time,” Corsini said.
“We’ve secured the lot next door so that we’ll be able to create a venue that will serve the community. What we know is that in order for the Colonial Fox Theatre to be successful going forward and serve the community the way that a modern audience wants to be served, that we’ll need to have more space, that we’ll need to have spaces for educational programs and bathrooms and, you know, things like that. So it took us a while to get the lot next door, but now that we have that, we’ll be able to move forward with our final plans.”
Corsini also discussed the theatre’s historical significance.
“This theatre carries with it a lot of dreams and memories,” Corsini said. “It carries the heart of the community really, because it is where people came to gather in the 1920s to understand what it was to be an American.”
At that time immigrants from many countries who spoke dozens of different languages were coming to Pittsburg to work in the mines, Corsini said.
“And so they used these theatres to understand our culture and where we were and then they raised their families and then they brought them here,” she said. “And many of those grandchildren and great grandchildren are still here and coming in and understanding the importance of what went before them.”