As a reporter, you get to do many special things in your travels. I have been able to go to the circus for the first time; attend a prom for the first time at the age of 45 (my daughter’s, upon her invite to chaperone); visit and eat on a circus train for the first time; serve as a judge at various contests; attend sporting events and even travel to New York City for a story and so much more. This past Saturday, however, was the best experience yet; I was in the arms of Kevin Costner, who was in Cranston to perform with his band, Modern West, at the Park Theater, known officially as the RI Center for the Performing Arts.
Near and dear to my heart is my hometown of Cranston, where I was born and raised and now live less than a mile from my family home. With Cranston comes the Park Theater. It was my childhood place for fun as I grew up in the city and often met friends and then went on dates there. I will admit I even snuck into an R-rated movie when I was an older teen, yet not of age. I am sure our readers have many wonderful, fond memories of the old Park Theater when it was a cinema, and now have an opportunity to see worldwide live entertainment at the new Park Theater.
A special thank you to Park Theater owner Piyush Patel and his staff for inviting my boyfriend and Herald photographer, Steve Popiel, and my friend, Mary Gustafson Ouellette, of Cranston and I to a private meet-and-greet with Kevin Costner prior to him taking to the stage. Also accompanying us to the small and intimate meet-and-greet was Don Fowler, also of the Cranston Herald, and his wife, Joyce. We all have been patrons of the theater. As a bonus, we met Erika Van Pelt of “American Idol” fame Saturday evening as well.
We all are fans of Kevin Costner, and Steve, much to his delight, was asked to take extra photos for the theater, which he happily did. Being the “official” photographer, Steve was last in line to meet Kevin Costner and, to his pleasure, was also able to have his picture taken with him and speak with him as well.
Of course, nothing goes smoothly in my life, and as I was in the receiving line to meet Kevin Costner something happened.
I felt myself getting warmer and warmer. I had a hot flash (perhaps triggered by the handsome celebrity himself?). I have been plagued by hot flashes for nearly a year now, and this was definitely not the time to have one. It was my turn for a photo with the celebrity, and I was full of sweat. He did not seem to mind as he put his arm around me to pose for the photograph that I will always cherish.
I am never normally out of words, but when I got up close I was truly starstruck. I knew it was not for an interview, for time did not allow that, so I had to think quickly while wiping sweat from my brow. I thanked him for coming to Cranston and told him how much I was looking forward to the concert. It was a brief encounter, but one I will always remember.
As a big fan of Kevin Costner, I was in my “field of dreams.” He is as charming as you might have guessed and oh, so handsome. The concert, which was sold out, was wonderful and Steve and I, and my friend Jane Costanzo, bounced in our seats to the music.
My original reason for going to the concert was to meet Kevin Costner, as I was not that familiar with his music. I was not disappointed. As the band took the stage, the audience rose and clapped. When Costner appeared, the Park Theater erupted into a roar. He thanked us all for watching his films and for being such great fans.
I think one of the most touching moments of the concert is when he introduced his daughter Lily to the stage. She is also a wonderful singer. You could see the pride in his face as they sang together as one. Living on opposite coasts, they met up to perform in Cranston as father and daughter.
Although Costner is the front man for Modern West, he performs on an equal playing field with the band. There were guitar solos and fiddle solos, and throughout it all Costner stands back, takes it all in, and has a great time. Unique about his show were the stories he told prior to each song, many which were written by him and the band. As he explained each song and its meaning, the music took on a life of its own.
If you have not been to the renovated theater, you are missing out. It is a jewel in our city, bringing in a wide variety of entertainment each month; entertainment a city such as Cranston may not have been able to secure without such a tremendous venue. Shows that would normally perform in Providence, such as Kevin Costner and Modern West, are now performing in Cranston. According to his website, Costner enjoyed his Rhode Island visit immensely.
“It has probably the best-run organization and staff of any place we've been. They really took great care of us, and the crowd that night was enthusiastic. We were on our best behavior. I think we made some fans there, and we definitely want to come back,” Costner wrote.
With the Stage Door Restaurant right next door for pre-show dinners and free parking behind Cranston City Hall, you just can’t beat the Park Theater and all it offers patrons.
Coming up at the Park Theater just this month are acts such as The Priests on April 27, Doo-Wopp, Burlesque & The Legends of Vegas on April 28 and the Step Crew on April 29. For more information on the theater, the shows and all they have to offer, visit www.parktheatreri.com.
I can tell you that when the Vienna Boys Choir comes to Cranston in December, it is one show I will not miss.