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October 11, 2012

Legendary music | Temptations, Lettermen in concert at Arcadia Theater

WINDBER — Arcadia Theater in Windber will be alive with legendary music in two upcoming concerts.

A concert featuring The Temptations has been rescheduled for 8 p.m. Saturday at the theater, 1418 Graham Ave.

The original performance, set for June 2, was postponed.

The music of Motown will preceed the appearance by an equally iconic group and an audience favorite. The Lettermen will perform at 8 p.m. Oct. 20 at the historic theater.

Frank Cunsolo, Arcadia Theater program director, said tickets purchased for the June 2 performance will be honored.

“We have good seats available and look forward to bringing the sound of Motown to Windber,” he said.

Tenor Talmadge Pearsall will lead the tribute to a group that captivated audiences around the world with such hits as “Get Ready,” “Just My Imagination,” “The Way You Do the Things You Do,” “My Girl,” “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” and “Beauty Is Only Skin Deep.”

“This show, with its music, outstanding choreography and unforgettable songs, will bring back the magic of Motown,” Cunsolo said.

“The show will be a springboard for welcoming back the following week  one of Arcadia’s favorites, The Lettermen.”

Tony Butala, founding member of the Lettermen, relishes every appearance on the stage and never tires of performing.

“It’s like eating ice cream,” Butala said in a telephone interview from Las Vegas. “Who doesn’t enjoy ice cream anytime they can?

“It’s the most rewarding job in the world.”

In 1961, Butala, Jim Pike and Bob Engemann recorded The Lettermen’s first national hit “The Way You Look Tonight.”

Fans can count on hearing a portion of Lettermen hits at each show.

Lettermen classics included such hits as “When I Fall in Love,” “Theme from a Summer Place,” “Hurt So Bad” and “Goin’ Out of My Head/Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.”

Other members of The Lettermen are Donovan Tea, a 17-year veteran, and Bobby Poynton, who joined the group in 1988 and recorded six albums with The Lettermen.

“Bobby decided to leave in 1995 to tend to the business of raising his family,” Butala said. “But he returned to the group last August after working as an actor in Hollywood.”

Butala’s mission each time he walks on the stage is to give people the best entertainment they’ve had in their lives.

“Look, people usually get a sitter, go out to dinner, sometimes battle ice and snow and look for parking just to see our show,” he said. “We do every show as if it’s our last. We want them to forget about the outside world and their problems.”

Butala, a vegetarian for 40 years, credits eating right, enjoying life and performing for being able to continue when other entertainers may contemplate retirement.

The Lettermen do from 100 to a 110 shows a year. That is a far cry from the 350 shows a year the group was expected to perform during its heyday as one of the nation’s most successful performance groups.

The Lettermen place an emphasis on the audience’s experience and encourage people to bring cameras to the show.

“Fans can send us their photos, which we will sign and then return,” Butala said.

After the show, the group will sign autographs and take pictures with audience members.

“We and the janitor are the last to leave the building,” Butala said.

Butala said he is privileged to have been part of Americana for five decades.

“We are releasing our 50th anniversary CD after the first of the year,” he said.

No doubt he will celebrate the occasion with wine from his own vineyard.

Butala, who was born in Sharon, Mercer County, owns a 40-acre vineyard in California’s Napa Valley.

His family’s wine making began in the 1870s when his great-grandfather, Josip, owned and operated Butala Vineyards in Croatia.

Butala’s grandfather, Miko, came to the United States at the turn of the century bringing with him his knowledge of wine making.

“When I was 5 years old, most men were off to war and I helped my grandfather around the vineyard,” he said.

“I’m carrying on the tradition.”

Performances

What: The Temptations.

Where: Arcadia Theater, 1418 Graham Ave., Windber.

When: 8 p.m. Saturday.

Tickets: Available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays at the box office, by calling 467-9070 or visiting www.arcadiatheater.net.

Cost: $29, $35, $37.

Information: 467-9070.

What: The Lettermen.

Where: Arcadia Theater, 1418 Graham Ave., Windber.

When: 8 p.m. Oct. 20.

Cost: $32, $36, $40.

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