Katy Bourne

Back to the Poncan!

POSTED ON May 02, 2012 | POSTED IN: My Blog | 29 Comments

 It’s not every day that a woman gets to return to the small town where she grew up and perform a jazz concert in the same theater where she watched movies as a child. However, I have the privilege of doing exactly that. One week from tomorrow, I am hopping on a plane and flying to my hometown of Ponca City, OK to sing at the beautiful Poncan Theatre. The show takes place on May 11th.

 Ponca City is a small northern Oklahoma town that sits fairly close to the Oklahoma-Kansas border. It is named after the Ponca Indian Tribe, which was forcibly relocated to the area in 1877.  When I was growing up, the population of Ponca City was around 30,000.  At the time, the economic hub of the city was Conoco, which operated a research and development facility and a refinery in the south part of town. It seemed like almost everybody’s dad worked at Conoco, including my mine. My father Henry Bourne worked as a mechanical engineer with the company for most of his career.

  The Poncan Theatre is downtown on Grand Avenue. My friends and I used to go to Saturday matinees, usually to catch the latest Disney flick. As mortified as I am at being old enough to use the phrase “back in the day,” back in the day a box of miniature jawbreakers was a dime. I bought a box every time I went to a movie. I would eat most of them but would also roll a few on the floor underneath the seats just for good measure. Although I’m not sure how accurate they are, my memories of the Poncan are vivid all the same. The theater always held a sort of majestic grandeur to me. I recall fairly elaborate ornamentation, stunning light fixtures and, of course, the big sweeping balcony where we loved to sit. I can’t even begin to remember all of the films that I saw there when I was growing up, but a few come to mind. Every year around Halloween, the Poncan would screen “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken” with Don Knotts. This annual event was a very big deal that all the kids in town looked forward to. I also remember going to see “Westworld” with my father and watching Yul Brenner completely fill the screen as the scariest, bad ass cowboy robot that I’d ever seen. I never made out with a boy in this great old theater but I kind of wish I had. It would be a great detail for the narrative. Although I can’t recite the entirety of the Poncan’s history, I do know that it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985 and also that it underwent major renovations in the 1990s. In 1994, the theater celebrated its Grand Opening as a performing arts center.

 Randy Halberstadt, my musical director and pianist, will be traveling with me to Oklahoma. For our May 11th concert at the Poncan, Randy and I will be joined by bassist Michael Geib and drummer David Hardman, both from the faculty of the University of Central Oklahoma School of Music. Seattle bassist Jeff Johnson was kind enough to connect me with Michael and David and I’m very much looking forward to playing with them. On the following evening, Randy and I will be performing as a duo for a private event in Oklahoma City. Never in a million years did I imagine that I would be heading back to Oklahoma to sing jazz. I’m thrilled, blessed and grateful.

 My performance at the Poncan is being presented by the Ponca City Arts & Humanities Council with funding from the Oklahoma Arts Council. Leslie Smith Schauvliege, the director of the Ponca City Arts & Humanities Council, has worked tirelessly and patiently to iron out all the details and to make this concert possible. I would like to give a big shout out to Leslie here and to say “thank you” for everything. She’s been a gem. My concert at the Poncan is free but I encourage anyone who attends to consider making a contribution to the Ponca City Arts and Humanities Council. (You can do that right here: http://www.poncacityarts-humanities.org/donor.html)

 My father died of pancreatic cancer in September of 2000 and my mother is now residing in an assisted living community in Oklahoma City. I am sad that they won’t be there for what is sure to be a very special evening. However, my sister Martha will be in attendance as will several very close friends, some of whom are traveling a long way just to be there. It is truly an honor to perform at the Poncan Theatre and to share this homecoming in a historic place that holds sweet memories for so many people.


29 responses to “Back to the Poncan!”

  1. Barbie says:

    Knock’m dead Katie!
    I’m sure your beautiful voice will sound great!
    I did kiss a boy at the Poncan. (Kinda wish I hadn’t) 😉

  2. Brian Brock says:

    This is awesome Katy! I’m sure the crowd will be very pleased to hear “one of their own.” And what a beautiful space with many memories! Enjoy the visit.


  3. Hilary says:

    What a lovely post & a special performance for you! The venue is gorgeous & it seems that you CAN go home again…and it’s especially wonderful when you’re returning on YOUR terms, to sing YOUR music. Sing out, Louise!

    • admin says:

      Thanks for dropping by, Hilary! This is going to be a fun show. The folks in Ponca probably never figured that the dirty, feral little tomboy with the potty mouth would return as a jazz singer. Actually, I haven’t changed that much! Har.

  4. Mary Klinger says:

    Enjoyed hearing about our town and memories of the Poncan…’back in the day’. Smiled all the way through. This is going to be fun to finally hear you up there! Hope you have a good trip down.

  5. Jenny Dale says:

    Awesome news Katy, can’t wait to hear you LIVE!!!

  6. Patti says:

    So bummed I can’t make it to P.C. Any chance they will film the event?
    I’m sure it will be a beautiful eve! Take it home Katy!!!!

  7. Chris Barrington says:

    This is the first I’ve heard of your fabulous career choice, wish I was a bit closer to Ponca to witness you talent. I know your Dad is smiling, I remember him as the best Scout Master ever! I’m sure Alan can recall for you world class bouts of midnight football in the basement of the Presbyterian Church instigated by your pop. Be sure someone films a few selections for YouTub! Everygood wish for a successful evening…and hi to Martha.

    • Martha Bourne Edmands says:

      Wonderful article, Katy! The theater looks beautiful but I bet they don’t sell those big dill pickles anymore. I’m glad Mom gave me one of those cool bears made out of the groovy old Poncan curtains. And I did make out with my 8th grade boyfriend there – I remembered that after I told you I didn’t.

      Hi Chris! I love hearing people’s memories of Dad, so thank you for that. One time I was mad at the Poncan for some stupid teenage reason & he actually suggested that I go back & tape a fish to the bottom of one of the seats. He was a nut. Hope you are well and happy!

    • admin says:

      Thanks for dropping by the blog & for remembering Henry!

  8. Mike D. Maxson says:

    It is possible we might be in Ponca that week end to see my Mom. If so, it would be fun to come see you!
    You will do great! Have a blast.

  9. Jyl Murray says:

    Can’t wait for the event. I think that my parents…my dad…forbid me to sit in that balcony during jr. high. I bet Jana got to sit there. She got away with everything 😉

  10. carla says:

    Enjoyed your artical Katy and can’t waite to see you perform. I’m so looking forward to it!!

  11. Ruth says:

    Your first grade teacher and myself remember Roosevelt’s introduction to your feisty spirit and look forward to hearing you again on Friday.
    Your family was a delightful part of my life.

  12. Beverly Schneider says:

    Katy, what a walk down memory lane I just took while reading your article. Yes, I was your first grade teacher and fondly remember what a delight you were. Of course I’m coming to share your evening at the Poncan. BTW, my son lives on Beacon Hill in Seattle. Small world!

    • admin says:

      Oh my! Mrs. Schneider? WOW! Thank you so much for dropping by the blog. It will be great to see you! I’m sure you never imagined that the feral little tomboy from your first grade class of so many years ago would end up singing jazz at the Poncan. No worries-I’m still a bit of a disheveled troublemaker. Some things never change, huh? Hope all is well at Roosevelt!

  13. Kenneth says:

    Hi Katy! My friend Eloise told me about you. She remembers a little girl in a Halloween costume asking for candy in August – practicing! I wish Eloise and I could both be there to see you at the Poncan. But she’s way up north, and I’m stuck here in Texas for a couple more months. I know it’ll be a great show!

  14. Will Martin says:

    Katie, I enjoyed your concert with a group from 1st Presbyterian. I’m PoHi class of ’66. I knew your Dad. He was reeeealy a great guy. I know two others who died of pancreatic cancer here – it’s horribly fast and incurable. My Dad worked with your Dad at Conoco under Fran Conley’s group and was very impressed with his work there. My Dad is still healthy at 89, but can’t really converse. Ponca was a mini Oak Ridge, TN, in those days – so full of scientists. I heard Henry’s name often around the dinner table. Your Dad was in the Production Engineering Section under Raj Phansalkar. Raj is still in town and can be found any Monday at Noon attending Rotary Club where he has been very active. You should give Raj a call to reflect on your Dad. Raj isn’t getting any younger. Again, great concert. What a fun career! My daughter is a singer songwriter in Houston (clorymartin.com). Seeing you perform makes me look forward to her musical career, as well.

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Katy Bourne is a Jazz Singer and Writer.