The longtime musical fundraiser known as “A Really Big Shoe,” delivered as it always has Sunday, with a variety of singers, groups and individuals, performing songs from the 20th century.
But after an 11-year run, the group of performers known as Entertainment Explosion — the same folks who put on A Really Big Shoe — plan to step aside next year and let a new group entertain and help raise money for homeless and needy children in the region.
Under Entertainment Explosion, “A Really Big Shoe” raised — including Sunday’s take — about $275,000 for homeless children in eight school districts, including Olympia, Tumwater and North Thurston Public Schools in Thurston County. Community Youth Services, another Olympia nonprofit organization, also receives money.
Next year’s scheduled act is The Brothers Four, a folk-singing quartet that started in Seattle, said Scott Schoengarth, producer and director of Sunday’s show and a longtime performer with Entertainment Explosion.
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He said Sunday’s performers, ranging in age from 52 to 88, are getting older. Some have new hips and others have had work done on their eyes, he said.
“A production this size takes a lot of work,” said Schoengarth, who added that rather than go down slowly and painfully, they decided to bring in another act.
Musical director Newt Buker questioned whether it was Entertainment Explosion’s last show. “It might be,” he said, but he also added that it could be temporary. Still, with or without them, the fundraising will continue.
Helping homeless children is “as needed as ever,” he said.
As Buker spoke to a reporter, he got a little ribbing from fellow performer Lee Thompson.
“He doesn’t smoke, drink or kiss girls,” Thompson said about Newt. “That’s why his hands are so steady.”
In the same breath, Thompson praised Newt’s work as musical director, saying he’s very “sympathetic to new performers.”
Olympia School District Superintendent Dick Cvitanich took the stage at The Washington Center for the Performing Arts before the Sunday afternoon show and talked about the need in Thurston County. He said more than 2,000 students are homeless in the county.
“They deserve a chance,” he said. “We know that if they don’t have the same opportunities as other students, their chances of graduating and having a successful life are dramatically reduced.”
“I’m grateful,” Cvitanich said.