The concert, which takes its title from the hit 1965 song by Valli and the Four Seasons, will feature other classics by the pop group, including “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Walk Like a Man,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” and “December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night).”
But it’s the title song, says Flagler Auditorium director Amelia Fulmer, that is appropriate for the 1,000-seat, nonprofit venue on the campus of Flagler-Palm Coast High School as it anticipates its first full schedule since concluding its 2018-19 season in spring 2019.
“We’re going to try to make that the theme — let’s hang onto what we got,” says Fulmer who, after almost 30 years of hands-on music teaching in Flagler County schools, became director in June 2019 following the death of Lisa McDevitt.
Fulmer’s first season at the helm was truncated when the beginning of the Covid pandemic in March 2020 forced the cancellation of four shows. The auditorium tiptoed back into live performances – replete with masking and social distancing Covid protocols in place – with its five-show Community Celebration Series from late January to late April 2021. Those shows featured mostly local performers and audience capacity was capped at 250 per event.
The 17-show new season features the return of nationally touring acts, including Rock and Roll Hall of Fame singer Darlene Love (of “He’s a Rebel” renown) on Dec. 11, Melissa Manchester on Feb. 6, the Canadian Brass on March 29 and a number of tributes such as the season-concluding Bobby Darin show Splish Splash on April 24.
“Think Pink Preview,” a look at the upcoming season accompanied by a light show, will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday Oct. 20 at the auditorium, 5500 East Hwy. 100, Palm Coast. Tickets are $5 and all proceeds will benefit breast cancer awareness, education and screenings. For more information call 386-437-7547 or go online at flaglerauditorium.org. (A complete list of the 2021-22 season is below.)
As of this writing, masks will be encouraged but not required of patrons at all upcoming shows, and venue seating will not be officially socially distanced. However, Fulmer adds, “I hate saying we’re not socially distanced because we are trying our best to spread the audience out.”
The coming season will be more critical than the past two Covid-affected seasons, Fulmer says: “This is the year that we have to worry more about losing income. Last year we knew we could only have 250 seats per show, so we brought in groups that cost less, more local groups because you couldn’t get the national tours anyway. Now we are back to national tours.”
Along with presenting big-name music stars, touring Broadway shows and other professional entertainment, Flagler Auditorium — which was created by a public bond issue 29 years ago – also stages community performances and activities, while the third leg of the venue’s mission is hosting numerous Flagler County school activities, including plays and concerts. The auditorium also houses the high school’s band room and, through its governing board, awards arts education scholarships to students and grants to area arts groups.
“We have committed close to $200,000 in programming fees alone for nationally known talent and tours this season,” Fulmer says. “This is a brave financial commitment in this environment and we need our patrons to return to the theater and join us. We are hoping to sell out our venue so that we can continue our mission.”
Only two shows in the upcoming season – Darlene Love and the Bronx Wanderers on Jan. 27 – have three-tiered ticket pricing at $59, $49 and $39. Tickets for the remaining 15 shows are $49, $39 and $29.
The auditorium’s ticket sales for its last full season, 2018-19, which included 27 professional shows, totaled $489,538. Attendance for those shows was 13,532.
For the 2020-21 season, “we made a little bit of profit, but it’s not really profit,” Fulmer says. “We had a little bit of money left because we received a $25,000 grant from the Division of Cultural Affairs. But we had to do shows or leave that money on the table, and so we did five shows during Covid that were only 250 seats (capacity at each event). We hired local entertainment and we were able to do a little bit better than break even.
“We made $35,000 (including the state grant), and then we gave $22,000 in arts in education grants and scholarships to students going into the arts, and that left us with a net income of $13,000. Not what we normally bring in at all. We normally bring in around $150,000 to $200,000 (annual net income). The year before, even with four canceled shows, we brought that in. But all that revenue goes directly back to the students, arts in education, programming, our mission.”
As for scheduling the professional performances, “It’s tricky picking out shows,” Fulmer says. “It’s tricky knowing what the shows are going to be about. That’s the reason the tribute shows sell so well, because everybody knows what they’re going to do when they get here – ‘I know what song I am going to be singing along with.’ ”
Every show on the schedule, Fulmer says, has been “vetted” by the New York-based Association of Performing Arts Professionals, which bills itself as “the national service, advocacy and membership organization for the performing arts presenting, booking and touring field.”
Just as tricky for the coming season has been navigating Covid protocols – or the lack of government-sanctioned ones.
At her own initiative, Fulmer took an online course before the spring 2021 community shows to become certified as a “COVID-19 Compliance Officer.” Provided by Health Education Services, a Silicon Valley company which offers training courses for professional health care providers, workplace personnel, school staff and the general public, that Covid course was aimed at the entertainment industry, according to healtheducationservices.net.
“So I know what we are supposed to be doing,” Fulmer says. “But you also have to consider what people’s views are, and if they want to come to the auditorium what will make them feel happy and safe. It’s just very complicated right now.
“If I decide that I want everybody to be vaccinated and have a negative test, then I am putting myself in a position to go against the mandates that the county has set, the city has set and our state. So I’m in a situation where I kind of have to do things so people have the freedom to wear a mask or be vaccinated or not. I’m trying to be the safest I can, but I don’t really have any government guidance in that area.”
Another factor can come into play with Covid protocols: the desires and dictates of the performers. According to a July 22 headline on npr.org, legendary rocker Eric Clapton “says he won’t play venues that require Covid vaccines.” However, a Sept. 20 Rolling Stone article was headlined “Anti-Vax Hypocrite Eric Clapton Breaks Own Vow, Plays Venue With Vaccine Mandate.”
Conversely, an Oct. 12 Associated Press article on clickorlandon.com was headlined “Harry Styles, Amway Center, AdventHealth part of vaccine passport probes in Florida. About 120 cases being reviewed for violations of Florida law.” The story noted that Orlando’s Amway Center “recently hosted a concert by Styles (an English pop singer) whose tour mandated that attendees either be vaccinated or have a negative COVID-19 test,” although such mandates are against state law.
While Fulmer has not received vaccine mandates from any artist on the auditorium’s schedule, such situations would place her in a quandary.
“I would have to figure out how I’m going to do that,” she says. “We are in a situation that unless it’s mandated by the county or the school system, I really can’t put that (vaccine or negative test mandates) into place.” Such an impasse might lead the auditorium to “have to cancel the show.”
“If we could just get past the politics of the Covid situation,” Fulmer says. “It’s very hard for me being an arts person. The arts are usually a very nonpartisan thing and I don’t want it to ever become that way. That’s why we are very careful with the protocols – because I do not want to divide us any further politically. That’s not what this place is about. I have to be very cautious when I make decisions.
“I just believe in the ability of the arts to transform our community.”
–Rick de Yampert for FlaglerLive
Here’s a look at Flagler Auditorium’s 2021-22 season of professional shows. Performances are at the venue at 5500 East Hwy. 100, Palm Coast. Single-show tickets are available at the box office, by calling 386-437-7547 or by going online at flaglerauditorium.org.
For the first time, Flagler Auditorium is offering season subscriptions. The Spotlight Subscriber package is $1,200 and includes two premium tickets to every show plus “Platinum Supporter privileges.” The Concert Connection subscription is $600 and includes one ticket to every show. Subscriptions must be purchased at the box office.
Memberships, which do not include tickets but provide various levels of amenities and privileges, are $1,000, $500, $250 and $100. Show tickets must be purchased individually.
For more information call 386-437-7547 or see the website. The schedule:
* Let’s Hang On: Frankie Valli Tribute – 7 p.m. Nov. 19. $49, $39 and $29.
* Last Child: Aerosmith Experience – 7 p.m. Nov. 27. $49, $39 and $29.
* Darlene Love – 7 p.m. Dec. 11. $59, $49 and $39. Love, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011, sang lead on the 1962 hit “He’s a Rebel,” worked with Elvis Presley, Sonny and Cher, Sam Cooke and other stars, and is featured in the 2013 Oscar-winning documentary film “20 Feet from Stardom.” She is also an actress who has appeared in the four “Lethal Weapon” movies and in Broadway productions.
* American Sirens – 7 p.m. Dec. 17. $49, $39 and $29. This female-fronted cabaret act performs jazz standards, modern popular hits with a vintage twist, Disney favorites, USO-style patriotic songs and holiday classics. Member Alejandra Martinez graduated from Flagler-Palm Coast High School.
* Winter Dance Party: A Tribute to Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens – 7 p.m. Jan. 7. $49, $39 and $29.
* The Bronx Wanderers – 7 p.m. Jan. 27. $59, $49 and $39. Featuring rock ’n’ roll of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s.
* Rocky and the Rollers – 2 p.m. Jan. 30. $49, $39 and $29. Doo wop and rock from the ’50s through the ’70s.
* Abbacadabra – 7 p.m. Feb. 4. $49, $39 and $29. An Abba tribute.
* Melissa Manchester – 7 p.m. Feb. 6. $49, $39 and $29. The pop singer and songwriter is known for such hits as “Midnight Blue” and “You Should Hear How She Talks About You.”
* Motones & Jerseys – 7 p.m. Feb. 18. $49, $39 and $29. Features the music of Marvin Gaye, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, the Temptations, the Beach Boys, Stevie Wonder, the Beatles, Herman’s Hermits and others.
* Six Appeal – 7 p.m. Feb. 28. $49, $39 and $29. An a cappella group.
* Married to Broadway – 7 p.m. March 10. $49, $39 and $29. Music from such Broadway shows as “Hamilton,” “Cats,” “Evita,” “West Side Story,” “Les Miserables” and others performed by the Sharpe Family Singers.
* The Doo Wop Project – 7 p.m. March 18. $49, $39 and $29. Featuring stars of the Broadway shows “Jersey Boys” and “Motown: The Musical,” the ensemble performs classic doo wop as well as doo wop versions of the hits of Smokey Robinson, the Temptations, Michael Jackson, Jason Mraz and Maroon 5.
* The Texas Tenors – 7 p.m. March 25. $49, $39 and $29. The trio performs Broadway and American classics.
* Canadian Brass – 7 p.m. March 29. $49, $39 and $29. Formed in 1970, the acclaimed brass quintet performs the music of Bach, Mozart, Louis Armstrong, Dixieland and more. The group’s concerts are known to feature lively dialogue, theatrical effects, spontaneity and, its website says, “fun.”
* One Night in Memphis – 7:30 p.m. April 8. $49, $39 and $29. A musical tribute inspired by the real-life night in 1956 when Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins jammed together at Sun Studios in Memphis.
* Splish Splash: The Music of Bobby Darin – 3 p.m. April 24. $49, $39 and $29.