After 10 years, “Beneath the Balconies” volunteer organizer Wendy Parich said the unique cultural event is just hitting its stride.
“This year, we may be going to another level,” Parich said of the talent lined up for this years event, which kicks off at noon today.
She may be right. From the two hours of music from the Queen City Classics before the first balcony presentation from Miguel Ochoa, Holden Greene and Casey Robicheaux performing selections from “The Three Tenors” to the finalé from The National World War II Museum’s Victory Belles, featuring New Iberia’s own Kate Gulota, the afternoon is shaping up to be a smash hit.
“It’ll start off with the Queen City Classics, and they’re going to be playing 50s, 60s and 70s music,” Parich said. “We’ll have Balcony Breezes for sale, which is our signature drink. Plus we’ll have the Etta Fair dancers on the dance floor that we put in for the event. At 2 o’clock, the Bunk Johnson Brazz Band will lead everyone in a second line to the front of the Shadows for the first performance.”
For Gulotta, who will be doing double duty as a performer on The Daily Iberian’s balcony as well as part of the Victory Belles during the finalé, the 10th anniversary is a special moment. Not only does she get to perform in the city she loves, Gulotta also gets to share the experience with her new partners in the Victory Belles.
Gulotta has been a performer in the Beneath the Balconies events since the first one in 2010. For the last four years, she has also served as a member of the committee organizing the event.
“It’s wonderful to be completely immersed in the beautiful fall weather, the historic Main Street, the arts community,” Gulotta said. “It’s so wonderful to see the organization and the work that goes into it. I get to see all the behind the scenes, and I am so proud to be a part of it. I’m so happy that we have something so exceptional in our community. Plus, my new workmates and friends from New Orleans get to come experience something from New Iberia.”
The presentation is a joint effort of the Iberia Preservation Alliance and the New Iberia Main Street Program, but it draws talent from across the Teche Area. Local high school musicians and dancers perform, as well as singers and actors from the Iberia Performing Arts League and other theater groups.
“We’ll have Percy Williams’ students from Westgate High School on the balcony at Bojangle’s doing their ‘Crossroads Jam,’” Parich said. “But there will be other bands there. Catholic High, New Iberia Senior High, they’ll be performing too.”
It’s not just the performances that require a lot of planning, Parich said. Members of the Beneath the Balconies committee also decorate all of the balconies and arrange to have the sound equipment needed at each location placed prior to the big day.
“Ginger Comeaux’s group decorated the balconies all along Main Street,” Parich said. “It’s been good. We are very fortunate to have people who are so dedicated to making this a success.”
Gulotta also is feeling fortunate. She found out a little over a week ago that she is one of the 10 finalists for the role of Roxie in the Broadway production of “Chicago.”
“I’ve known for about 10 days,” Gulotta said. “I made the top 10 in the nation out of thousands of people who auditioned. The top three girls in the online voting get flown to New York for the final audition.”
Those who want to help Gulotta in her Broadway quest can vote for her at www.chicagothemusical.com.