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May 16, 2013

‘A Song for Indiana’ to raise money for Dresser sculpture

TERRE HAUTE — Art Spaces will present “A Song for Indiana – The Paul Dresser Project” at 5:30 p.m. on June 6 at the Holiday Inn of Terre Haute.

Proceeds from the event will support a sculpture to honor Paul Dresser and Indiana’s state song, “On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away.” This song, written by Dresser, was so popular in its day that it sold more than 1 million copies of sheet music, the second-highest sales of any one song. Both houses of the Indiana Legislature reaffirmed the state’s appreciation of the song when they honored Dresser on March 14, 100 years after declaring his song to be Indiana’s state song. It was also Indiana’s first emblem, pre-dating even the flag.

The sculpture will be located in Fairbanks Park near the Wabash River and close to the home where Dresser grew up. Art Spaces anticipates completion of the project by June 2014 in plenty of time for the bi-centennial celebration of Indiana’s statehood.  

The evening will feature Dresser’s great-niece, Tedi Dreiser Godard, performing in “Paul Dresser Night,” including Dresser’s songs and selections from “My Brother Paul,” written by Theodore Dreiser.

Godard grew up in Manhattan, where she studied voice and dance at Julliard. Her many credits include Beatrice in “Much Ado About Nothing” at the Hofstra Shakespeare Festival and in “Damn Yankees” at Broadway A La Carte, L.A. At the Center Stage in Atlanta she performed in several Gilbert and Sullivan operas including “The Pirates of Penzance,” “HMS Pinafore,” “The Gondoliers,” “Princess Ida” and Yum-Yum in “The Mikado.” She also portrayed Yum-Yum in the PBS production for which she received an Emmy nomination. She has also directed many productions in New York and performed at Supper Clubs throughout the country. In 1984, she received the Governor’s Awards in The Arts for Outstanding Contribution, by Georgia Gov. Joe Frank Harris.

The show will also feature Joel Godard, Tedi’s husband, who was announcer for “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” for 17 seasons. Prior to that, he was the first announcer for “Dateline NBC” as well as an NBC staff announcer for seven years. His voiceover appearances include “Saturday Night Live,” “NBC Nightly News” and ABC’s “Issues and Answers.” His acting credits include principal roles in the Emmy-nominated CBS television movie “Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones” and in the TBS daytime drama, “The Catlins,” as well as numerous commercials and industrial films. His awards include a Primetime Emmy for his contributions to the writing of NBC’s “Late Night with Conan O’Brien”; a Chicago Film Festival Award; a Broadcast Producers Association Award; and an Atlanta Emmy Award.

“Paul Dresser Night” is produced and directed by Paul Dreiser Andrews, Godard’s son and the last living relative of Dresser and his brother, well-known novelist Theodore Dreiser. The Cultural Trail Committee of Art Spaces hopes to honor Dreiser in a future project.

The evening begins with appetizers and cash bar. At 6:15 p.m. the performance will begin, followed at 7:30 by an elegant post-performance dinner provided by the Apple Club of the Holiday Inn. The Holiday Inn is at 3300 U.S. 41 South.

Tickets are available for $75 (or $575/table of eight) by calling 812-235-2801 or emailing info@wabashvalleyartspaces.com. Reservations will be accepted through May 31. Seating is limited.

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