Bringing crazy back
Public invited to unique SCT event to honor volunteers
Tomáš Kub'nek (pronounced toh-mawsh koo-bee-neck) welcomes the title of "certified lunatic and master of the impossible," among many other monikers he has received from national and international critics.
"Your favorite wacky man will be hosting the afternoon -- dishing it up with love and inspiration and things absurd and bizarre," the Czech-born comedic entertainer said of his upcoming performance at 4 p.m. Sunday at the newly renovated Spencer Community Theatre, which will benefit children's programming with a free-will donation.
Kub'nek, no stranger to Spencer, will be performing in a new space. He entertained a crowd of predominantly young families at the old middle school auditorium in 2006 as part of Spot The Hancher Family Arts Adventure and his memories of Spencer and the people he met prompted him to request a return.
"He thinks it's a great town," said Spencer native Chuck Swanson, executive director of the University of Iowa's Hancher Auditorium. "He also got to know my mom and others."
The quirky performer remembers Swanson's mother Lillian, an avid SCT box office volunteer, quite fondly.
"I knew her from 2006," he recalled, adding, "She was such a vibrant lady. She did not act her age at all. She was always interacting, meeting with people for coffee and golfing even though she had two his replaced. She threw a party for us at her house."
In honor of the late Swanson family matriarch, Kub'nek, suggested a memorial event.
"He said, 'Let's do something in honor of your mom,'" Swanson shared. "Then I talked to (SCT Director) Connie (Goeken) about it. She came up with the idea to honor all volunteers. What a neat thing to do. The entire operation of SCT has volunteers in the box office, costume shop, stage, boards and committees. They're the ones that make it happen."
With the passing of volunteers Mark Lancaster, Alice Schar and Swanson -- in addition to numerous current volunteers -- in mind, Goeken and Chuck Swanson decided to honor all volunteers and perhaps recruit more.
Goeken clarified, "It's not just the volunteers that are invited. The public is invited as well. This is a way to highlight how much volunteers help."
Kub'nek is exuberantly anticipating his solo performance at the new facility.
"I'm here (in Iowa) for a few weeks doing shows with a symphony orchestra," he said. "I'm coming through Spencer to do kind of a grand re-opening. The date worked out perfectly. I said, 'Let's pass through there and visit Spencer.' I'll do some schtick as part of the gallery opening."
While Kub'nek is performing with Orchestra Iowa on various dates, his stop in Spencer will be a solo act in which he has been known to use audience participation.
"He loves to make people laugh," Swanson said. "He's charmingly silly. He's kind of vaudeville, witty, charming, sweet. Everyone of all ages falls in love with him because he's unique and something you've never seen before."
Swanson also explained how Kub'nek's Symphony Project with Orchestra Iowa came to be.
"He wanted to connect with a full, 80-person orchestra and work his comedic elements into orchestra," Swanson said. "He interacts with the orchestra, the maestro and tries to get people who wouldn't come normally to come to an orchestra concert. ... Tim Hankewich is the conductor. He and Tomáš have been working two years on putting together this full evening."
Amidst his busy schedule -- which includes visiting youth detention centers, schools and other facilities for workshops -- he is offering the Spencer performance free of charge.
"He made the offer," Swanson said. "That's the most important part. He wanted to do it. He's gifting it. ... He wanted to honor my mom and it grew from there in a lovely way. There again, it goes back to the way Spencer touches people. He will never forget Spencer and I've taken a lot of artists there and they all feel the same way."
With fond memories of the Clay County seat, Kub'nek hopes others have similar recollections of him, which prompt them to view the newest rendition of his solo act.
"I'm looking forward to coming back to Spencer and seeing everybody," he concluded. "It's going to be a nice time."