KY Performing Arts Venue Celebrates Over 30 Years of Laughs, Tears and Memories
The RiverPark Center in downtown Owensboro opened way back in 1992. Over the course of the last thirty years, the performing arts facility has welcomed over 4 million guests for plays, musicals, concerts and civic events. It has also provided enrichment programming for nearly 1 million children. To celebrate its mission of "entertaining and educating", RiverPark is encouraging its patrons to be a part of the storytelling. Theatre folks know- without an audience, there is no show and every show is enhanced and shaped by the people watching it.
That's why RiverPark just launched a campaign called #IAmRiverParkCenter. It’s a series “celebrating those in our community who were forever impacted by RiverPark Center and continue to make memories for our community.” They’re asking people to share their “RiverPark” stories.
Look! I grew up a theatre kid. Honestly, I’m still a theatre kid. I grew up getting roles in our school plays and musicals. I studied theatre in college. I worked for a junior theatre arts company in San Diego. I served as Production Director of the Streisand Festival of New Jewish Plays at La Jolla Playhouse. I have acted professionally. I am a huge Broadway fan and have seen more shows in New York that I can name. I worked as a director and choreographer for over two decades. Theatre is in my blood and we are so fortunate to have a facility like the RiverPark Center in our front yard to give us the opportunity to experience all of theatre’s powers- to entertain, to enlighten, to celebrate, to challenge, to laugh and cry and enjoy.
As RiverPark shared on social media when they launched the campaign, “Within the walls of RiverPark Center . . . some left with the knowledge of something new, or the experience of a lifetime.”
That’s exactly what the performing arts are designed to be- an experience. And, to celebrate this campaign, I want to share my favorite RiverPark Center experience ever. A few years back, I was asked to participate in a promotional campaign for the Tony Award-winning musical, Kinky Boots, which was rolling into downtown Owensboro for a one night only performance. The production sent me a $2000 pair of boots to wear to help promote the show.
I wrangled in the help of my good friend Kenny King, who owns Dream Copy Photography. I asked him if he wanted to help me stage an epic photo shoot and he quickly said, “Heck yeah!”
So, I laced up those Kinky Boots and we shot a series of photos at iconic locations around Owensboro.
It was an amazing celebration of the show, of RiverPark and, ultimately, people. While a handful of people spend their time demonizing differences, those of us who understand the power of connection and reaching beyond our own backyards into brand new worlds, celebrate them.
That's why I was so willing to put these legs into those big red boots. As you can imagine, folks around town reacted in a variety of ways. Some laughed, some shook their heads, some quickly ran over to take selfies with me, some ran the opposite direction just as quickly, some honked their horns, one or two propositioned me (LOL).
I think my favorite reaction may have been from a guy who witnessed this.
When he passed by our shoot over near the bypass, a local husband called his wife and said, “Uh, there’s a guy in thigh-high stiletto boots walking on the Owensboro sign.”
The lead up to the show was a blast. The musical itself was the celebration of community it was meant to be. The RiverPark Center was electric that night and the cast of “Kinky Boots” rolled up into town, got up on the stage and challenged the audience to understand and embrace its story of self-love and being who you’re meant to be.
It’s experiences like that one that make the power of theatre tangible, real. It’s why theatre is so important. It does all those things I mentioned. It moves us, challenges us, educates us, transports us, and celebrates us- ALL. OF. US.
There is no question here. #IAmRiverParkCenter. Always have been. Always will be. In those boots and out of them.