Tuesday, June 23, 2009

June 27: Book Signing: An American Café: Reflections from the Grill

The Gianakura brothers, Chris and Samuel, having arrived in Sault Ste. Marie in the late 1890s, established the American Café in the newly built Soo Theatre complex in 1930. Peter, Chris's son, has written an account of the history of the two men, the businesses they owned, and memoirs of his own life, continuing their legacy.
Peter Gianakura will be signing his newly released book about the American Café at the same site that housed the restaurant that he and his family owned. There will be an open house from 2 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 27 at what is now the office for the Soo Theatre Project and STARS.

An American Ca: Reflections from the Grill is the title of Peter Gianakura’s new book. It is a collection of delightful tales about the small restaurant that he ran, first with his father and then on his own. The American Café, fondly remembered by folks all over the Eastern Upper Peninsula, evolved from two candy stores owned by Peter’s dad and uncle. The American Confectionery Store was located closer to Spruce Street and was forced to move when Kresge's came to town. Peter’s dad was able to move to the storefront next to the Soo Theatre where his uncle had a miniature candy factory in the basement. As the big candy companies came on the market, the Gianakuras couldn’t compete and the shop evolved into a sandwich and luncheon gathering spot.

Peter had no inclination to be in the restaurant business, he recalled in a recent interview with Meta Geyer. When he finished his stint in the Army as a medic, however, he couldn’t say no to his dad. He learned the business and worked beside his dad until he retired. Peter was behind the counter 43 years, and when he and Georgia were married, she became the restaurant's famous pie maker. They sold the café in 1989 and still run into former customers who remember their favorite meals there.

In one of the many stories Peter relayed about the Soo Theatre, he recalled, “I loved going to the theater when I was growing up. You know the movie ran all day on Saturday. One time I watched a western at least three times. When I finally left, I’ll never forget the sight in the lobby. There was my dad in his white apron and his hands on his hips glaring at me in front of the crowd coming in for the evening movie. I was one embarrassed young man.”

Soo Theatre Project has honored the Gianakura Family with a display of photos and memorabilia in the area that the family restaurant occupied for nearly 60 years. Peter and Georgia provided the wonderful pictures of the café and the former candy stores. Thanks go to Marian MacLeod for sparking the idea for the memory wall, to Bill Gerrish for lending his design expertise, to Colleen Arbic and Personal Touch for donating some of the materials, and to Sault Realism for creating the finished replica photos. The “Gianakura corner” is adjacent to the refinished original framed mirror that was behind the diner counter. The mirror was found under newer generation wall coverings and brought back to its former beauty by Fran Hoholik.

Stop by on Saturday to see this tribute to the Gianakuras and pick up a copy of Peter’s new book. As Chris Roll says in her review on the back cover of the book, “An American Café is a book filled with the richness of small-town life over the course of most of the 20th century.”

Photos from the Event

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

International Idol 2009 Continues June 21: Come See What Happens!

Composite of International Idol Week One Contestants and Judges

Week Two of the Soo Theatre Project’s International Idol has expanded to ten contestants! Three more Idol hopefuls have been added to this unique vocal contest. This competition is an adrenaline ride for the contestants, who have to hold their own on the Soo Theatre stage, performing in front of the judges, family, friends, and devoted community members.

Lake Street Studio in Brimley, owned and operated by Soo Theatre’s own Taylor Brugman, is donating studio time for the three winning contestants. The International Idol third place winner will receive an award of $100 of studio time, runner-up $200 of studio time, and first place $500 of studio time at Brugman’s Lake Street Studio.

Week Three of International Idol is just around the corner. Sign-up is complete and the ten contestants have been selected. There may be some new challenges compared to last year’s competition… Come see what happens!

The remaining events of the International Idol 2009 Vocal Competition Series take place Sundays, June 21, June 28, and July 5 at 7:00 p.m. at the Soo Theatre. Admission is $5 at the door for any non-contestant. Further information is available at the Soo Theatre Project. Call (906) 632-1930 or email sootheatre@lighthouse.net.

For more information on the contest, see the previous posting.

Dennis Brooks, Trisha Wells, and "Gentleman George" Snider judge the performance of a contestant during Week One of the International Idol 2009 Vocal Competition Series at the Soo Theatre.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

There's Still Time to Sign Up for International Idol 2009!

Sunday, June 7th at 7:00 p.m. on the Soo Theatre stage saw the first round of International Idol 2009. Seven local talents, from both sides of the Saint Mary's River and ranging in age from 12 to 82, began the vocal competition.

The contestants are not only judged on their vocal abilities but also on their stage presence, originality, timing, clarity, interpretation, and pitch accuracy. Local musicians Dennis Brooks and "Gentleman George" Snider make up two of three members of the judging panel. Trisha Wells is the third judge. A graduate of DePauw University with a Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance, Ms. Wells is the female lead in the Soo Theatre’s upcoming production of Oliver! The Musical.

Jennifer Compo and All Good Soundz Entertainment is once again providing musical accompaniment for the contestants. The winners will receive studio time at Lake Street Studio, Brimley's waterfront recording studio. The Grand Prize is $500 studio time, Second Prize is $200 studio time, and Third Prize is $100 studio time at Lake Street Studio.

If you love singing and performing, this is the competition for you! International Idol is still accepting registration for new contestants. Everyone participating must prepare two songs. The music selection is available from All Good Soundz Entertainment. E-mail Jennifer Compo at her website at allgoodsoundz.com to ask about the music selection. If you have your own CD, do not hesitate to bring that in as well.

The International Idol 2009 Vocal Competition Series takes place Sundays, June 7th to July 5th at 7:00 pm. Admission is $5.00 for any non-contestant. Sign-up for contestants is free and International Idol is accepting applicants for one more week (through June 14). If you have any questions, please call the Soo Theatre office at (906) 632-1930 or email sootheatre@lighthouse.net.

For more information on the contest, see the previous posting.

Photos from Week 1 of the Contest

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Yo Ho Ho! Join Our Pirate Cruise on Thursday, June 11!

Steve Welch and his crew are all ready for the Pirate Boat Cruise benefit for the Soo Theatre Project on Thursday evening, June 11. Leaving Soo Locks Boat Tours Dock One at 6:00p.m., the cruise is sure to be fun for the whole family.

Become a pirate for the evening! Come as you are or as a pirate! During the two-and-a-half-hour cruise on the beautiful St. Mary's River you will enjoy:

  • Pirate snacks
  • A pirate re-enactment
  • Pirate stories and songs
  • Pirate prizes, and
  • A pirate auction for a Pirate Hat, A Parrot, King's and Queen's Crowns,Jack the Monkey, and a huge Pirate Flag.
Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for children 12 and under. Tickets are available at the Soo Theatre or at Soo Locks Boat Tours Dock One (1157 East Portage Ave.) (map to Dock One).

PDF version of the event poster

For more information, call the Soo Theatre at (906) 632-1930 or go to our website at sootheatre.org. The Soo Theatre is located at 534 Ashmun St., Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.

Photos of the Cruise

Friday, June 5, 2009

Don't Miss A Table for Two This Saturday, June 6

Rehearsing for the first of the season's shows at the Soo Theatre are some of the ladies from the Lock Cities Chorus of Sweet Adelines. The Sweet Ads and the Northland Barbershop Chorus are presenting A Table for Two as a benefit for Soo Theatre Project on Saturday, June 6 at 7:30 p.m.

Come and enjoy a family evening of song and comedy. Show tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for students, and are available at Soo Theatre Box Office or at the door.

For more information, see our previous posting.

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