First published in the April 9 print issue of the Burbank Leader.
While the members of today’s Boys & Girls Club of Burbank and the Greater East Valley are too young to remember, back in the 1960s, kids and teens of their age all watched “The Bugs Bunny Show” on ABC.
The show, which presented “Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies” cartoons produced by Warner Bros., began with a theme song every kid knew:
“Overture, curtain, lights
This is it, the night of nights
No more rehearsing and nursing a part
We know every part by heart.”
That song, written by Mack David and Jerry Livingston, featured Bugs and Daffy Duck walking out on a stage and performing as song-and-dance men who were then joined by the full complement of “Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies” characters for the final chorus.
“Overture, curtain, lights
This is it, we’ll hit the heights
And oh, what heights we’ll hit
On with the show this is it.”
This past week, following a ribbon-cutting ceremony, the board of directors of the local Boys & Girls Club took to the stage of the new, state-of-the-art Warner Bros. Performing Arts Center. As they gathered, it provided a bit of a flashback moment of those iconic characters, led by Bugs and Daffy, proudly parading out before an audience.
Just moments before, the board, along with club members and staff were joined by the youth organization’s CEO Shanna Warren who officially cut the ribbon on the center with the help of Warner Bros. representatives Barry Ziehl, who serves as the senior vice president of public affairs and strategic initiatives, Michael Walbrecht, the vice president of public affairs, and Sally Chan, vice president of community engagement.
“It is for the kids of this club that this center exists, and we at Warner Bros. are honored to be engaged with you,” Ziehl told the assembled group. “Community engagement is our top priority, and we are proud of our 25 years of partnership and support of this club.”
Warner Bros. funded the transformation of what was once a Salvation Army chapel at the club’s East Angeleno Avenue location into a modernized 93-seat performing arts center that features new house seating, a walnut stage floor, curtains, professional quality audio and video equipment, and a movie screen.
With the ribbon dutifully cut, Warren invited everyone inside the new facility where she provided a display of the sound, lighting and projection systems.
“For more than 25 years, [we] have been so grateful to Warner Bros. for partnering with us on a variety of projects in an effort to help our members reach their full potential,” Warren said. “We are thankful for that continuing support in providing us with this tremendous new performing arts center that we can’t wait to showcase.”
Warren also expressed gratitude for the ongoing support Warner Bros. will be giving the club to fund programming of acting, comedy, music and dance instruction, and to maintain and upkeep the facility.
“This center will have great value to our members, along with the Angels City Choral and other community, theater, comedy, musical, dance and civic groups who will also be using it,” Warren added.
Walbrecht, who has been involved with the club since its inception, said that the growth he has seen of the organization over the years is nothing short of astounding.
“For those of us who have been invested in this club for so long we are grateful to the city of Burbank for what they did to get things started, and to the community-at-large who has always shown their support,” Walbrecht said. “On behalf of everyone at Warner Bros. I can say it has been, and is, a privilege for us to be a part of that support.”
While the club prepares for the refurbishment to begin of their sports facilities and gymnasium, which will be funded by the Los Angeles Lakers, members whose talents are in the theatrical realm are now ready to take to their new stage and “hit the heights.” And so, without further ado … “On with the show, this is it!”
DAVID LAURELL may be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or (818) 563-1007.