Alumni of Triopia High School will come together this weekend to celebrate and remember the life and music of a local theater legend.
The Ken Bradbury Triopa Music Extravaganza will take place at Triopia High School this Saturday, September 28th.
Steve Eisenhauer, who recently retired as Triopia School Superintendent and worked with Ken Bradbury behind the scenes on many Triopia productions, said the idea of a reunion show was shot down on more than one occasion by Ken in the past.
“Back in May, Mary Jane Million who works for the R.O.E. Office, was visiting me, going over some school stuff, and before she left I kinda pitched the idea to her. I had actually talked to Ken several years ago and told him it was about time to do a Triopia musical reunion of some kind. But Ken was never one who wanted to do rehashes of old material, and he gave me three or four reasons why we couldn’t do it.”
“So time went by, and after Ken passed, I talked to Mary Jane about it there in May, and said lets put together something for KB’s foundation and lets try to get some participants, some cast members who performed in those shows years ago. And it kind of went from that point, to where we are now.”
Support for the show gained momentum very quickly, however in putting the show together, it seemed that Ken had left his former students and peers one more challenge to overcome.
“Ken wrote about 29 different musicals for Triopia during the time he was there. Check Webb was considered Ken’s right hand man when it came to the shows, and we got him involved with it, and he basically went through all the scripts we were able to find.
What was interesting, and believe it or not, Ken and Chuck had actually disposed of all of their scripts and everything from those shows. So our first big quest was to find these, and we actually found quite a few of these shows on VHS tape. So basically it was going through the scripts, and figuring out what songs would fit, picking song from those different scripts, and then trying to figure out what the music was for those particular songs.
So that was the first big step in getting this put together. It’s going to be a musical revue of 16 or 17 songs that will be performed. Really what this is going to be is a flashback of some of the best music of some of the best shows that Ken wrote.”
The show will run twice Saturday at both 2:30 and 7:00 pm. Travis Deaver, a Triopia alum and former student of Ken Bradbury said that crafting the show has been a labor of love, and that there are some parts included in the show directly touched by Bradbury, beyond the music.
“When Ken did all these, he didn’t write everything down. He had a way of, he knew what he wanted and he did what he wanted and he didn’t need to write it all down. Everybody who is going to be singing in the show, was originally in Ken’s shows at Triopia. Not necessarily singing the same parts, but we do have some songs that are going to be covered by the actual actors that sang them in their respective show, which is really cool I think, to go back and listen to someone sing it 20 some years later and see their development.
Chuck got a hold of us, we met, we ran through just, whatever songs he had, and then it was kind of up to Chuck to decide what voice goes with what part, and we just sort of filled in. But the actors are all so talented that it really has flowed together sort of seamlessly. Jeff Westerfield has taken over a little bit of the writing. He did some script work, and actually the first two pages of script are, I believe, are actually Ken’s words that he wrote for another show, that we have kind of morphed into the beginning of this show which is a really cool touch.”
Another Triopia Alum and performer in Saturdays show, Becky McCartney, said that Ken’s influence is being felt by the cast especially during rehearsals.
“Probably the beauty of it is, I think in the practices we have had so far, since everybody is literally a graduate of the Ken Bradbury school of theater at Triopia, we all have the Ken Bradbury mentality when it comes to putting the show together. There is no ego, if we need to cut something, everybody is like, hey let’s cut that, lets sing this one differently, lets put this in a different spot, whatever the case may be. And I think that is kind of the rest of the beauty of that, because ken was known for making last minute changes if it needed to happen, and that has happened at literally every rehearsal we have had so far.”
The has 15 cast members, 2 emcees and two band members who are all former students of Bradbury. There will be a silent auction of Ken’s Triopia memorabilia at the event. Winners will be announced following the 7:00 pm performance.
McCartney said that Ken left a lasting legacy that continues to inspire near and far from Triopia Schools.
“Ken made everybody feel like, you are that special. But the rest of that story is, he also held people accountable. And for those of us who grew up with Ken and who were on the stage, you just revered him your whole life. You always looked for his approval and you wanted to do good with him and you wanted to carry on with him, and to wake up and realize, he’s not here anymore, for me to go and get that affirmation. The great thing about it is, and this is where I have just shed tears about this extravaganza that they are doing as a tribute to KB is, his legacy really does live on and the people were really touched by him. He just provides a gift that hasn’t stopped giving and I don’t think it ever will.”
All proceeds of the show will benefit a theater scholarship in Ken Bradbury’s memory at Illinois College. Tickets are $10.00 and are available at first National Bank of Arenzville & Jacksonville, and CNB Bank in Chapin. Tickets will also be available at the door.