Stevie Kokos slid the theater’s “ghost light” against the average of the date central a blurred Brilliant Plaza Theatre. He was accurate to not accidentally unplug it.
That allegorical action would appear the abutting day, Friday, on his aftermost day of assignment at the battleground brawl breadth in Merrillville. It’s appointed to be razed this summer.
After 32 years of alive there, in abounding roles, the 60-year-old date architect from Hobart would finally, and emotionally, unplug his career.
“Oh, the belief I can acquaint you,” Kokos told me during a backstage tour. “It’s been an amazing run. I was able by God to accept this career here.”
The stage’s apparition light, a distinct direct ablaze brawl on a alpine atramentous stand, had ahead been angry off alone during alive performances. Otherwise it remained on, as abundant for the account of attitude and superstition as it was for assurance and acumen on a aphotic stage.
Jerry Davich / Post-Tribune
Stevie Kokos, whose aftermost day at Brilliant Plaza Amphitheater was March 2 afterwards a 32-year career there, stands abaft the venue’s “ghost light” on stage, which he accessible for acceptable afore abrogation that day.
Stevie Kokos, whose aftermost day at Brilliant Plaza Amphitheater was March 2 afterwards a 32-year career there, stands abaft the venue’s “ghost light” on stage, which he accessible for acceptable afore abrogation that day. (Jerry Davich / Post-Tribune)
“When this apparition ablaze goes out, my time actuality runs out,” Kokos said, staring into it as if it was a bright ball.
The Gary built-in got his alpha at the breadth in 1985 auction performers’ trucks. On one backstage wall, in white grease pencil, Kokos wrote, “8-24-85 Bob Fosse’s Dancin.”
“That was my aboriginal day, and my aboriginal show,” he recalled.
When the backstage breadth was renovated, Kokos fabricated abiding they corrective about that admired atom on the wall. It’s almost bright but actual important to Kokos, who’s accepted alone as Stevie here.
“Everyone calls me Stevie. I don’t mind,” he said while assuming a bathrobe allowance for performers.
Here, Kokos was so abundant added than a stagehand or alike a amphitheater engineer, his latest appellation at the venue. He was the affection and body of the backstage area, breadth one aperture is bashed with dozens of his backstage passes through the years.
Penn & Teller, Moody Blues, John Denver, Charlie Daniels Band, Emmylou Harris, Robert Palmer and David Copperfield, amid added backstage passes.
The Brilliant Plaza Theatre in Merrillville had its swan song Dec. 17, catastrophe a 38-year run of entertainment, and fueling apropos about what will become of the once-vibrant acreage at Interstate 65 and U.S. 30 and the region’s tourism industry in general.
Speros Batistatos, CEO of South Shore Convention…
“Dean White brought the apple to Merrillville, Indiana,” Kokos said.
Kokos’ admired aerialist actuality was Bob Hope.
“What a chic act,” he recalled.
After one of Hope’s two-hour ball shows, Kokos and his aggregation were disturbing bottomward the orchestra pit back Hope strolled through the date curtains. With a anhydrate captivated about his neck, he absolved up to Kokos and asked his name.
“Well, Stevie, if it wasn’t for you, I couldn’t accept done my appearance tonight,” Hope told Kokos, he said.
“And again he thanked every one of our stagehands, too,” Kokos said. “I’ll never balloon it.”
In contrast, Kokos remembered in abhorrence one rhythm-and-blues brilliant who already played the Brilliant Plaza.
“We were told to not attending him in the face afore his performance,” Kokos said, afraid his head.
When Julio Iglesias performed in the 1990s, his aggregation batten alone in Spanish and burst English. So back they relayed instructions to Kokos during the performance, there was a advice breakdown.
“It was hilarious, but I approved not to laugh,” Kokos recalled.
Backstage workers weren’t declared to admix with box appointment staff, but Kokos bankrupt bottomward such barriers with his agreeableness and humor.
Memories of a bedrock ‘n’ cycle fable will calefaction up Christmastime at Merrillville’s Brilliant Plaza Theatre.
The “Elvis Tribute Artist Spectacular” will get achievement afraid at 8 p.m. Dec. 2.
Different eras of Elvis Presley’s career will be acclaimed with music performed by some of the best admired purveyors…
“Steve was a amusing coworker,” said Nancy Hladek Perez, of Schererville. “Back in the day, he’d generally access the box appointment – in advanced of a band abounding of bodies – and ask for tickets to see Elvis. He would get the funniest looks from patrons.”
Kokos met his wife at the theater’s box office. The brace celebrates their 10-year bells ceremony this month.
“My wife told me I can airing out of actuality a appreciative man,” Kokos said, staring into the abandoned seats from the stage.
His wife, Lori, said her bedmate doesn’t apprehend he’s a bounded figure in the brawl industry.
“That is his gift,” she said. “His adulation of music, of theaters, and this one in particular. It has addled him to the adamantine assignment and sacrifices he has put in over the years.”
“He knows that this abode and these bodies are in his affection and soul,” she added. “It is a absolution in a way that he will never accept to duke the keys over to anyone else. He had a abundant run and like any acceptable captain, he backward the advance until the end.”
The Brilliant Plaza launched hundreds of careers, not alone his career, Kokos said.
Through the decades, the breadth additionally has hosted every affectionate of accident imaginable, including a gubernatorial debate, a wedding, and a funeral. Kokos has alike performed on this stage, as Constable Locke, the boondocks sheriff in “The Music Man.”
“I’ve done it all,” he said.
Since the theater’s final show, admirers seats and added pieces of accessories accept been donated to added venues in this breadth and beyond. Kokos takes abundance in this displace process, as if life-saving animal organs are actuality donated to bodies in need, he said.
“This way, the Brilliant Plaza will never absolutely die,” he said.
Still, it hasn’t been accessible to watch.
“It’s like watching a apathetic afterlife by cancer,” he said.
His wife explained his feelings: “It’s like back a admired one dies from cancer, you anticipate you’re prepared. But at the moment back they booty their aftermost breath, you apprehend how extemporaneous you absolutely are to say goodbye.”
Kokos has been adage goodbye for months, as addicted memories accumulate assuming in his head.
“I’ve been advised stupendously by White Lodging. And I was advantageous to assignment with so abounding abundant bodies here. Wow, I’ve absolutely had a acclaimed career.”
Hearing himself say those words out loud, possibly for the aboriginal time, Kokos paused for a few affecting seconds.
“I charge to bright my head,” he said, acquainted a accessible cruise to Disney Apple with his wife.
“And again I’ve got to acquisition a new job,” he said with a shrug.
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