Bonners Ferry’s Hidden Treasure

If you’ve never been to The Pearl Theater for any given performance, you might not realize what an aptly-named gem of a place you’re missing out on! Housed inside a former church on Ash Street near Downtown Bonners Ferry, The Pearl Theater has been beautifully refurbished with amazing acoustics and incredible detail. But aside from being aesthetically pleasing, the real treasure is the continual string of fine performances that are offered.

Pearl Theater Board President Rhea Verbanic explains, “We strive to book events at The Pearl in a variety of genres so that it will appeal to a broader audience. Our goal is to offer more options to choose from so that more people will take the opportunity to come see what great entertainment we offer right here in town.”

The caliber of performances are truly impressive; attendees comment frequently that shows at The Pearl compare to—or exceed—those in Spokane, at a fraction of the price. “There are also opportunities to check out a new performer that you might not have heard of, always at a very affordable cost,” Verbanic adds.

The Pearl Theater is offering a special five-show package for the 2017-2018 season at $65 for members and $70 for non-members. Members were offered an early bird discount on the package, so plan on becoming a supporter of The Pearl and take advantage of that next year.

The season lineup is exceptional. It kicks off with Grammy-nominated performer Randy McAllister and the Scrappiest Band in the Motherland, who are returning (at his request!) for their third performance at The Pearl on Saturday, September 30. With music described as East Texas roadhouse soul, Randy’s entertainment style is just like his home state—large! Accompanied in the past by two guitarists and a violinist, Randy plays drums, washboard and harmonica—sometimes all at once—and performs lead vocals. Opening for Randy is local performer Nancy Meadows. This is one concert you don’t want to miss!

Many requests for a comedian to perform at The Pearl have been made, and the next act brings it on. Comedian Paul Brantly, seen on L.A.’s “Rebels of Comedy,” will perform his show “Comedy for Adults” on Saturday, October 14. Bonners Ferry’s Melayne Stevens, a regular performer, will share the stage with Brantly with her brand of comedy.

October is a bonus month with an encore show. The Andy Sydow Band will take the stage on Saturday, October 21, along with local stars Paul Bonnell and Friends. Here’s a chance to experience great rock and roll along with some talented local musicians.

While not part of the five-show lineup, the Shook Twins are a big tradition at The Pearl with their annual day-after-Thanksgiving concert. Performing across the county, they're gaining quite a following, and their local fan base is strong. The Bonners Ferry show always sells out quickly, so buy your tickets for the November 24 event as soon as they go on sale.

Next on The Pearl’s lineup is the Incredible Flying Dookie Brothers (old-time rock and roll) on Saturday, January 27. The ToneDevil Brothers (folk music with Arvid Lundin) are playing April 21. And the season concludes with the Panhandle Polecats performing all-in-the-family bluegrass on May 5.

Every performance at The Pearl starts at 7pm, with The Pearl Café opening at 6pm to serve a variety of delicious finger foods and desserts, along with beer, wine, coffee and other beverages as well.

For free entertainment, there are two regular events: Open Mic Night on the first Thursday of every month and Performer’s Circle on the last Friday of each month. Anyone who sings or play instruments is welcome at both. Open Mic has room for poetry readings, comedy routine and more. For additional shows and events, more details, ticket prices and times, check out The Pearl’s website, ThePearlTheater.org, or join their Facebook page for notifications. Tickets can be bought online, at Bonners Books or Mountain Mikes, and at the door (if tickets are still available).

With general ticket prices averaging $12 to $15, Pearl shows are a great deal. “Figure the cost of a show in Spokane, along with gas and food; this is a more affordable way to see and support the performing arts, and it’s right here in Bonners Ferry,” Verbanic says. “Plus, if you have dinner out or appetizers and drinks at The Pearl Café prior to a show, you're supporting not only The Pearl but other local business people as well. Your money stays at home.”

Memberships help keep quality acts coming to The Pearl. With tiers from general to corporate, a purchase of $25 to $500 (discounted prices for seniors and military personnel) will give you a nice variety of benefits. General members receive voting privileges, one Café Buck coupon and member punch card. The corporate package has that plus three more Café Bucks, four free Pearl-sponsored event tickets and your name and logo on every program. The punch card is a reward system for members; attend a show, buy tickets for a guest, volunteer or attend a meeting, and receive one stamp on the card. After five stamps, members earn a free ticket to a Pearl-sponsored event and a Café Buck.

Make a note to attend the Pilsner, Pinot and The Pearl membership drive event next September (as this year’s event has already taken place). This popular wine and beer walk through participating Bonners Ferry businesses is a great way to socialize and bring more awareness to what The Pearl Theater has to offer.

And another not-to-miss happening at The Pearl is the festive New Year’s Eve party with dancing and celebration of the New Year’s Eve ball dropping in Times Square. Formal wear is welcomed but certainly not required; do think about joining in the fun though with an up-cycled gown from the thrift store or your dad’s old sports jacket.

Anyone interested in what’s happening behind the scenes is encouraged to attend the monthly Backstage at The Pearl board/volunteer meeting, held the second Thursday of every month from 5:30 to 7pm. “Just like it takes a village to raise a child, it also takes a village to run The Pearl,” Verbanic explains. Volunteers are needed for everything from easy jobs (ticket taking, information table attendants, cafe servers and poster hanging) to more complex duties (poster design, data entry, sound system and lighting tech). Volunteers receive free or discounted passes to most shows.

Whatever your preference in music, plays or comedy  might be, The Pearl Theater is sure to offer something that will meet or exceed all expectations. Enjoy the luxury and convenience of having local music, a variety of concerts, plays and movies to choose from and being able to enjoy them in one of the finest settings that Bonners Ferry is privileged to offer.

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