Bonnie Bing

For Van Dyke, I'll learn to sing baritone

Have you ever made a list of people you would love to meet? Mine includes five people I would love to interview. One of them is Dick Van Dyke. He's an actor who, to me anyway, seems like he could be a favorite uncle. I have no doubt you could chat it up with him and have a blast.

That's why when local actress Barb Schoenhofer told me she had dinner at Dick Van Dyke's house and then sang and tap-danced around his piano, I wanted to hurt her. Not really. Well, maybe a little.

Barb's good friend Brent Moon, whom you may have seen on stage numerous times here in Wichita before he went to Los Angeles, introduced her to Van Dyke.

Brent worked at a restaurant in Malibu called Marmalade Cafe. That's where the Van Dykes would dine and that's how Brent got to know them.

One time, Van Dyke mentioned to Brent that the baritone in his quartet was not singing with him at that time. Brent, a baritone, sang for the "Mary Poppins" star right there on the spot.

"It's been a surreal, crazy gift to get to know him," Brent said when I called him. "I remember watching 'Mary Poppins' when I was 5 years old, then I look over and there he is in his living room and I'm digging through his music."

Van Dyke, who is 84, does a lot of singing and entertaining to raise money for music programs in the schools around Los Angeles.

His quartet is going to sing for President Obama at the Kennedy Center this month.

Brent doesn't get to go on that gig, but he looks forward to entertaining with one of his childhood heroes again soon.

"We do a big fundraising show every year. I got to be on stage in front of 2,000 people singing 'Chim Chim Cher-ee' with Dick and he forgot the words! It was really funny," Brent said.

Then he asked Brent to sing a song, which was a bit of a surprise. "But you know how sometimes you sing in the shower and it sounds just right? Well, I had a shower moment in front of 2,000 people singing 'When You Wish Upon a Star.' "

Brent credits Wichita and its "amazing theater community" for the success he's had in California. He's starting a production company, has done some music videos and has been in a couple of short films.

"But I miss Wichita. I learned how to do everything in a theater, and how to do it as a professional," he said.

As for Barb, she's back in Wichita still riding high after her evening with Dick Van Dyke. "It was just the coolest thing," she said.

Well, yeah. I'd say. Perhaps tap lessons are in my future.

The French Connection — Joycelyn Falsken, an assistant professor in the department of apparel, textiles and interior design at Kansas State University, will present an illustrated program at 2 p.m. June 19 at the Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum. It will be titled "The French Connection — French Fashions for America" and will be based on the museum's current exhibit, "The French Connection: Clothes From Paris to Wichita."

Designers featured include Jean Patou, Christian Dior, Coco Chanel, Nina Ricci, Louis Feraud and Pierre Cardin. This program is free and open to the public.