Benefit show for Englert set

BY RILEY UBBEN | MAY 05, 2011 7:20 AM

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mp3 sample: Dick Prall


Nancy Kula can’t help but envy the past. Though Iowa City’s historic Englert Theatre burned down in 1926, the financial blow sounds manageable compared with its current situation.

“It’s kind of neat that at that time it only cost $60,000 to rebuild the Englert,” said Kula, the Englert’s development director. “By the time we went into the renovation in 1999, so much needed to be done and replaced and repaired that it ended up costing a little over $5 million.”

After the fire, it took only 10 months to rebuild the theater. The recent renovation process, however, took around five years, and Kula said there is still work to be done.

“Following the renovation, we began to see some issues with the roof leaking,” she said. “Over the years, it just continued to increase.”

In order to raise money for the repairs, the Englert, 221 E. Washington St., will host Rock 4 the Roof, a benefit concert, at 7 p.m. Saturday. The show will feature performances by the Recliners, Dick Prall, OSG, and Daddy’s Brother Band, and will cost $15. All proceeds will go toward repairing the Englert’s roof.

In addition to the music, a Golden Ticket will be raffled off. The Golden Ticket allows the winner and one guest into every Englert Series event for a year.

Prall, a solo artist now based in Chicago, started out his music career playing in bands in the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City area. After seeing historical buildings neglected in his hometown of Sheffield, he became an advocate for preservation efforts.

“I’m from a really small town in north Iowa, and over the years, it’s really decayed because there hasn’t necessarily been money put in,” he said.

Prall’s experience with a theater in Sheffield made him especially sympathetic about the Englert’s cause.

“We have an old theater [in my hometown] where we used to watch movies when I was a little kid. That was the place you went to,” he said. “Once they shut it down, it dilapidated and was ignored. I think it’s sad, and I think it’s important in any community to put stock in its history and historical buildings.”

Aaron Warner of Daddy’s Brother Band said that audience members aren’t the only ones who would miss the Englert if it went away. He cites the theater as a first-rate destination for performers, something he realizes in his first show there.

“We’re kind of like kids in a candy store with that venue,” he said. “Everybody we work with there is so professional and so experienced. It’s really been wonderful planning things out with these guys.”

The Iowa City natives of Warner’s band only do a handful of live shows every year, but he said their early experiences with the Englert and the variety of entertainment it offers made the decision to do the benefit show an easy one.

“We thought it would be a really cool opportunity to help the Englert out. I can remember going to see movies there as a kid,” he said. “And they’re not just doing movies or not just live music. They have a variation in the kinds of art the they bring to the area. I think it’s a nice alternative to your more run-of-the-mill establishments in the area.”

With plenty of people such as Warner who believe in the Englert’s value to Iowa City, Kula is confident that the theater will continue in spite of financial setbacks.

“Since we reopened in December of 2004, we’ve had more than 200,000 people walk through the doors,” she said. “I think that it’s impossible to put a price on the opportunities that have been supplied for the community.”

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