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With Pomp and Yakety Yak, Flagler Auditorium Celebrates Its 20th Anniversary Tonight

| November 2, 2011

flagler auditorium stage instruments anniversary

It needs no introduction.

It was called Proposition 2, it asked Flagler County voters to approve a $2.6 million bond issue ($5 million in current dollars) to build a 1,000-seat performing arts venue on the campus of Flagler-Palm Coast High School, and it appeared on the Sept. 6, 1988 ballot. It was one of two bond proposals that fall. The other was a $16.7 million levy for improvements to the high school and for a new elementary school.

At the Flagler Auditorium

  • The Ten Tenors on Broadway at the Flagler Auditorium for two back-to-back performances, Saturday April 5, at 3 and 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $42 for adults and $32 for students. For more information, visit the auditorium’s website or call 386/437.7547.

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If Vegas bookies had set their odds on the measures, they’d have bet against both: just nine months earlier, voters had overwhelmingly rejected a combined A $33.4 million bond issue for pretty much the same things and more, though the school board had sheepishly stayed away from actively supporting the proposal. The board (Andy Anderson, Nancy Dance, James DuPont, Dennis Fitzgerald and Herschel King) had left the campaigning to Superintendent Don Kaupke and a citizen’s advisory group. Seventy-six percent of voters rejected the levy.

That Sept. 6, after board members, parents and others had campaigned heavily, the two smaller bond proposals passed, if by small margins. The auditorium levy got just 55 percent of the vote (3,211 for, 2624 against), and if it weren’t for Palm Coast voters, it would have failed: many precincts in the rest of Flagler County were decidedly against spending money for a performing arts venue, including south Flagler Beach, the Hammock and the western portion of the county.

“The troops are happy,” Kaupke said at the time, ending a four-year effort to finance a large performing arts venue in the county.

The auditorium was built, and on Nov. 2, 1991—20 years ago today, on a day when a young Bill Clinton, in New Hampshire, was accusing the first Bush of abandoning the middle class—pianist Roger Williams and the 10-piece Dave Trigg Orchestra inaugurated the first performance with pieces by Gershwin, Chopin, with Broadway and pop standards including “St. Louis Blues” and “Autumn leaves,” and with bits and pieces of “Mairzy Doats” thrown in along the way, like Williams’s between-piece quips about Congress, Madonna and heavy metal. Tickets had sold for $24, $22 and $19.50 (the equivalent of $40, $37 and $32.50 today).

The record doesn’t show how many of the 1,000 seats were filled that evening, but it is not at all an exaggeration to estimate that close to 2 million people have walked through the Auditorium doors through the year. The math tells the story. There are 20 to 25 professional shows a year, about 100 to 125 community and school events a year. Those shows alone draw, conservatively, between 50,000 and 75,000 people a year. There’s plenty more.

“When you think about it, it is the one facility in our community that almost everybody ends up at in a year for some kind of an event,” Lisa McDevitt, the auditorium director for the past 11 years, says. “That doesn’t include the fact that we teach there every day, and we do anywhere between five to seven classes in the auditorium a day, with 30 to 35 students in each. That’s just the theater technical program. That doesn’t include the chorus or the band or any of them that come into the auditorium and use it. So there’s a lot of traffic in and out of here. If you times that times 20 years, we’ve impacted a lot of people.”

Tonight at 6, McDevitt has organized a special 20th anniversary tribute for the auditorium. “The plan is to celebrate the accomplishments of the Flagler Auditorium and talk a little bit about the history and to have fun celebrating the arts and arts in education,” McDevitt said. There’s a free 7 p.m. performance by the Cornell Gunter’s Coasters (think of “American Graffiti”’s soundtrack, which would have lacked something without their “YaketyYak”), but the warm-up act is, if you can forgive the Flagler-flavored participle dangling, where the nostalgia will be at.

Sue Dickinson, chairman of the Flagler County School Board—the actual owner of the auditorium—and Superintendent Janet Valentine will speak, along with County Commissioner Barbara Revels, an original board member of the Flagler Auditorium, Palm Coast Mayor Jon Netts, and Susan Burke, executive director of the Florida Alliance for Arts Education. Matanzas’s steel drums ensemble will be performing as guests are coming in, Flagler Palm Coast’s Formality Singers will also perform, and there’ll be a couple of surprise appearances.

Auditorium Board President Richard Hamilton, too, will speak. “I can’t even imagine Flagler County without the auditorium,” he said earlier today, when asked to picture the county without the auditorium. “I can’t imagine the kids through the years having had nowhere to perform, to experience the full spectrum of a live theater on their education, and I think it would have had a very serious effect on a lot of people not wanting to relocate inside the county if they didn’t have somewhere local to go to enjoy quality performances.”

Over the years—and this is a bare-minimum sampling—the auditorium stage has seen such acts as the Glenn Miller Orchestra, the Count Basie Orchestra, the Jacksonville Symphony, the Amadeus Trio, the Chicago Brass, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Irish Rovers, Ben Vereen (who’s kicking off the coming season), the Harry James, Duke Ellington and Tommy Dorsey orchestras, the Ten Tenors, Chubby Checkers. Mozart’s “Magic Flute” and “Cosi Fan Tutte” operas have been staged, as have an innumerable number of plays and musicals, including “Annie Get Your Gun,” “The Odd Couple,” “Hello, Dolly,” “The King and I,” “Porgy and Bess,” “Man of La Mancha.” The auditorium is the home of the county’s annual talent show, the Teacher of the Year celebration, the high school’s drama club’s performances, and of course the Amy Fulmer’s Formality Singers, John Seth’s 140-piece band and the 300-member Flagler Youth Orchestra.

“Arts in education is a wonderful thing, so we always hope to keep arts alive in our schools,” McDevitt says. “There’s also an economic impact, because we do bring a lot of visitors into our community from out of county, and we also bring about 500 performers from out of state who stay here, stay in our hotels, eat in our restaurants, shop in our stores. So I think it’s a very good thing. And a lot of the students who have graduated from here and have been involved in the auditorium and the arts program, they really have done major accomplishments thus far in life. We enlighten a lot of lives, so we continue to hope to continue that mission. We are a place of entertainment, we want people to be entertained when they come, and relax. We mind of call it the stress-free zone. We all need that in our lives.”

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3 Responses for “With Pomp and Yakety Yak, Flagler Auditorium Celebrates Its 20th Anniversary Tonight”

  1. palmcoaster says:

    I hope that all the mentioned distinguished school personalities and government representatives as well as the latest addition Auditorium Governing Board President Mr. Hamilton will remember at the 6pm special 20th Anniversary Tribute organized by Lisa McDevitt, to formally appreciate as speakers to “all the Flagler County Taxpayers” that contributed and funded the Flagler County Auditorium construction and “probably” we are still funding maintenance and salaries today thru our school taxes.
    Rather often the most important appreciation of all to the tax payers, fall into obliviousness in these tributes, while VIP’s pat each other on the back..

  2. PalmCoastPioneers says:

    Palm Coasts’ own ‘Palm Coast Festival Park March’ Composition :
    Maybe someday we will hear this performed again ; maybe the newer Palm Coasters would like to hear it also someday:

    Flagler Palm Coast Ampitheater:
    The first classes for D.B.C.C. – Daytona Beach Community College began in the Publix Shopping Center in Palm Harbor. Then in the 1980’s the Flagler Palm Coast Campus came into being at its present site with 100 acres donated by I.T.T. within the Community of Palm Harbor for this Campus.

    DBCC relives 30 years in pictures

    By: Jim Miskelly
    PALM COAST – Daytona Beach Community College celebrated its 30th Anniversary, complete with an art exhibit, historic photos depicting the 30 years of growth of the college and a concert by the DBCC Concert Band under the direction of Douglas Peterson.
    The Art exhibit included 186 paintings and pencil drawing by DBCC students of art instructors Pam Greisenger and Barbara Craig. Many of the paintings were for sale. Dr Paul Thompson, vice president in charge of all DBCC Campuses, displayed a framed sketch on napkins, with the inscription : “Flagler Palm Coast Center” Original Plan, approved in concept by Dr. Charles H. Polk, Pine Lakes Country Club. Nov. 1982. by Paul Thompson, DBCC, Jerry Full, ITT, Gary Walters, ITT.” Thompson said the original plan followed the concept of Merriweather Post’s ‘Wolftrap’ open air theater in Virginia.
    Attendance at the evening holiday concert was quite sparse, due to the cold weather. The band’s opening number was Leroy Andersons’ ‘Sleigh Ride.” Charles T. Gabriele conducted the band during the performance of his composition originally played at the dedication of the Flagler Campus,

    “Palm Coast Festival Park March.”

    Several Christmas numbers and a sing-along entertained the audience, Sharon Crow, alumni affairs director representing the DBCC Foundation and Alumni Association, and vice president Dr. Len O’Hara presented two full art scholachips to the DBCC campus. Contact Larry Goodemote at 445.4030.
    Guest Conductor – Professor Charles T. Gabriele conducts his own composition.
    Flagler Palm Coast News, Wednesday, December 23, 1987.

    Navy Band Orlando Thrills Capacity Crowd at Center

    By Jim Miskelly
    PALM COAST – It was a first for Palm Coast. In and ideal setting for a Sunday afternoon band concert, an overflow crowd estimated at nearly 1,000 packed the Daytona Beach Community College Flagler Center’s new outdoor theater for the performing arts for a performance by the Navy Band Orland, under the direction of Lt. William D. Myers.
    Palm Coast Professor Charles T. Gabriele conducted the band in playing his own composition ” Naval Training Center March,” and the premier performance of his “Palm Coasts Festival Park March.” commemorating the opening of the Cultural Arts Pavilion. Gabriele, former composer in residence of the Naval Academy Band, earned a standing ovation from the audience and the band alike. Gabrielle dedicated the march to ICDC President Alan Smolen, who in turn shared the honor with ICDC Executives Gary Walters and Vince Viscomi for their part in planning the center.
    The program opened with the ‘Star Spangled Banner,” setting the pace for a patriotic afternoon. Center Director Larry Goodemote welcomed the audience and County Commission Merle Shoemaker read a Flagler County Commission resolution proclaiming May 20, 1981 as “American Legion Flagler Post 115 Day.”
    The American Legion Post, chartered in 19919 is the oldest veterans ‘ organization in Flagler County and was a sponsor of the concert with the cooperation of DBCC’s Flagler Center and ICDC Shoemaker noted this was the first event at which all local veterans’ organizations were represented and welcomed . American Legion Flagler Post 115. Palm Coast VFW Post 8696 , Flagler County FW Post 5213. DAV Chapter MOWW. Shoemaker presented a copy of the resolutions to the American Legion Post Adjutant Cora Buckles.
    Rear Adm. Pauline M. Hartington, USN, congratulated Professor Gabriele for his years of service in the Navy and cited him for his compositions.
    The concert concluded with ‘Servicemen on Parade,” a medley of familiar service songs with an invitation for former veterans to stand when their service connected song was played.

    Wednesday May 23, 1984 – Flagler Palm Coast News Tribune

    ( We contacted both High Schools and maybe their Bands may want to preform the original Program ; maybe at our Amphitheater or this larger location or both – perhaps Palm Coasts ‘ own ‘ Palm Coast Festival Park March’ can be played at Events or something – any ideas? )

  3. Skip Bo says:

    Actually the very first performance occurred in May of 1991 with the performance of Mozarts, “The Magic Flute.”. Stetson University’s theater was shut down due to fire codes and the Opera suddenly was homeless and was due to open in 3 weeks. Though the Flagler Auditiorium was not officially open yet, it was complete and I starred in that opera and it was a privilege for all of us to be the first ones to use that beautiful facility. No worries, we were charged for the use of the auditorium and if my memory serves me it was very, very expensive. I also remember their were issues with the opening due to the complicated transition involving the lack of funds needed to actually open, run and secure talent for the venue now that construction had been completed. I hope our use of the auditorium helped in the securing of talent needed for the grand opening festivities that following November.

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