ATASCADERO - It takes a lot of guts to be vulnerable in stage lights, but some of Atascadero’s literal movers and shakers cast aside inhibition and got together to strut their stuff for a range of worthy causes March 21-23.
Atascadero’s Dancing With Our Stars event, presented by the Friends of the Atascadero Library, passed the decade mark as a local tradition, and artistic director Molly Comin took participants back to the 1980s for the occasion. Paso Robles Mayor Steve Martin emceed for his ninth turn at the event, this time in the guise of Doc Martin, inventor of a time-traveling electric guitar.
The event also saw Atascadero Mayor Heather Moreno, Atascadero School District Superintendent Tom Butler, and City Councilwoman Susan Funk channeling Madonna, Tom Cruise, and Dolly Parton, respectively, for jaw-dropping performances in character.
The eight local “stars” representing seven local charities are not usually trained or professional dancers but they’d had since September 2018 to practice for last week’s three performances and organizers asked for a social media blackout to preserve the magic of surprise costume changes and choreographed moves.
People's Choice Awards for dancers were tabulated on each night with Jan Lynch and Charlie Bradley (dancing for Atascadero Kiwanis) taking the prize on Thursday, Terrie Banish and Chris Harmon (dancing for Atascadero Library) on Friday and Tom Butler and Kara Frenzel (dancing for Atascadero Greyhound Foundation) on Saturday.
Champions over the three nights determined by the monetary contributions raised by their performances were: First - Atascadero Greyhound Foundation (Tom Butler and Kara Frenzel dancing to the “Man Medley”); Second - Atascadero Kiwanis (Jan Lynch and Charlie Bradley, “Get Outta My Dreams...”); and Third - The Printery Foundation (Karen McNamara and Chris Harmon, “Lady in Red”).
Tickets for the packed performances and accompanying meal were sold out well in advance, but as event producer Jeannie Malik explained, most of the ticket price covers expenses. Funds for the charities involved come from attendees directly as well as contributions still being accepted online for each, listed on the event’s web portal friendsoftheatascaderolibrary.org/dwos.
Comin also paid special thanks to Joel Mason, the Las Vegas-based cruise ship and 80s artist tribute musician who played Marty McFly to Martin’s Doc Brown as show co-host this year. Mason has loved the 80s since the 80s, specializing in Prince and Elton John.
The full listing of Community Stars, not to mention first time and returning vignette players, was Funk for the Atascadero AAUW, Lynch for the Atascadero Kiwanis, McNamara for the Atascadero Printery Foundation, Steffi Ketzler for the El Camino Homeless Organization, Butler for the Greyhound Foundation, Nancy Beckett for the Paso Robles Youth Arts Foundation and Banish and Moreno both for the Friends of the Atascadero Library.
Gross funding raised for the event was estimated at $200,000 as of press time.