“[The series] has continued to grow and evolve, really based on the folks that have come and played a part in it,” said Matt Santini, administrator for The Grand. “Certainly having a great community response has allowed us to continue doing the series, along with obviously our title sponsor Century Bank providing the [financial support].
“... We do try to bring a lot of variety. A few years ago we [offered] some magic. We’ve dabbled in the comedy and we’ve done some different type of tribute bands. We try to mix it up for people. Right now, it’s [trying] to find that balance. We know what people want to see. It’s bringing back things that are going to be familiar names but something that perhaps they haven’t seen before.”
Following 7 Bridges, the series will continue with Atlanta Pops Orchestra on Dec. 8; country music artist Collin Raye on Feb. 9; comedian Jon Reep, who won the fifth season of NBC’s “Last Comic Standing” on March 2; and Mountain Heart on April 20.
Started in the early 2000s, the series was fine-tuned following the results of a community survey more than five years ago. Conducted by The Grand, the survey sought public input on a variety of items, from preferred types of music to performance dates and times. In addition to pinpointing Saturday as the concert day of choice, the survey revealed area residents enjoy country and bluegrass music and tribute shows.
Based on name recognition and talent, Santini expects Raye’s appearance on the series to draw country music fans.
According to www.collinraye.com, "one of the true hit makers of the 1990s ... Collin still continues to crank out soulful, heartfelt material with the honesty and richness that is signature to his vocals, making him one of the greatest vocalists of our time. Collin Raye is nothing if not passionate. His fiery delivery has made country standards of such searing ballads as ‘Love, Me,’ ‘In This Life,’ ‘Not That Different’ and ‘Little Rock.’ Always an electrifying showman, he has also blazed through such vivid rockers as ‘My Kind of Girl,’ ‘That’s My Story,’ ‘I Can Still Feel You’ and ‘I Want You Bad.’
“... Five times nominated as country music’s Male Vocalist of the Year, Collin Raye has consistently used his stardom to advance social causes. Among the organizations he has supported are Boys Town, First Steps, Al-Anon, Special Olympics, Country Cares About AIDS, Catholic Relief Services, Parade of Pennies, Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, The Tennessee Task Force Against Domestic Violence, The Emily Harrison Foundation, Childhelp USA, Silent Witness National Initiative, Easter Seals and Make a Difference Day.”
Along with bringing quality entertainment to Cartersville, Santini also said the Entertainment Series has helped support the local economy.
“One of the things that I think is really fantastic and special about the series is that it is happening in our community,” Santini said. “For $25, you have an opportunity to be sitting on [the] front row of a Collin Raye concert and you don’t have to go out of town to do it. We’re real proud of the fact that usually before the show, I’ll ask who went out to eat at a local restaurant before they came to the show and usually it’s well over half of the crowd. We’re trying to use the theater as a tool to help impact the local economy and I think that we’re doing a good job of it.
“I [also] enjoy not just the performance part of it but seeing the social interaction that takes place — the friends that buy season tickets ... and all the conversation that happens before the curtain goes up and after the show is over. It’s just a great experience, not just in the entertainment portion but just the experience of coming to a beautiful theater, seeing a great show and being surrounded by friends. And I think that’s what means the most [about] this series to me is being able to play a part in providing that for the community.”
Individual event tickets — $25 for orchestra level seats and $20 for balcony level seats — will be available Oct. 8. Season ticket holders will receive a 10 percent discount. For more information, call 770-386-7343 or visit www.thegrandtheatre.org.