Part of the cast of Polly Kellogg Bradley's 1940s Gala Show, set for Mother's Day weekend at Valley Christian Center in Spring Valley, is rehearsing for their upcoming performance.  From left are Linda Niemeyer, Julie Mlinar and Tasha Van Brunt, and seated, Mary Ann Schultz.  GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE
Part of the cast of Polly Kellogg Bradley's 1940s Gala Show, set for Mother's Day weekend at Valley Christian Center in Spring Valley, is rehearsing for their upcoming performance. From left are Linda Niemeyer, Julie Mlinar and Tasha Van Brunt, and seated, Mary Ann Schultz. GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE
The 1940s Gala, a benefit for Mission 21 in Rochester, featuring area performers singing the tunes as they were sung by Judy Garland, Billie Holiday, Bing Crosby and Ella Fitzgerald, will be held once again in Spring Valley next month.

"We have tons of local talent and a variety of music and radio skits from the 1940s. This is our fourth annual gala and our last one from this era, at least for a while, but there are so many great radio shows and so much great music from this era that it is just a wonderful time to celebrate. It was the beginning of so many great styles of music. So many of the great artists of all time happened in this era," said Polly Kellogg Bradley, organizer of the 1940s Gala.

The event, set for Friday, May 9, and Saturday, May 10, at Valley Christian Center in Spring Valley, offers up vintage vocals and comedy as brought to the stage by Roger Svebakken, Marcy Capelle, Mary Schultz, Maria Klingsheim, Craig Cornell, Jeffrey Thauwald, Kelvin Haywood, Sarah Kohn, Todd Looney, Kirby Johnson, Sierra Kellogg, Tasha Van Brunt, Melissa Vang, Julie Mlinar, Linda Niemeyer, Laurie Helmers and Novella Meisner - people gathered to sing out because they're in Glenn Miller's "mood," and to speak out against child trafficking.

According to its website, Mission 21 is an anti-trafficking service provider committed to the complete restoration of child victims of sex trafficking. Since 2010, Mission 21 has been working to provide services to children being bought and sold in the commercial sex trade in Rochester and statewide. The average age of entry into the commercial sex trade, more commonly known as prostitution, is 12 to 14 years old. Mission 21 can help victims of domestic minor sex trafficking, ages 15 and younger, with food, clothing and emergency medical services as well as on-going case management.

Kellogg Bradley related that the gala is a personal mission that rewards her in numerous ways.

"First and foremost, doing something in the community for the greater good and working with the people in the community is such a fantastic honor for me. We have so many people who just give of themselves and are so talented," she explained.

"Helping Mission 21 fight against something as horrific as child prostitution is humbling. It is a way for this community to say 'No more - we will not stand by and just let this happen,'" she added. "Awareness has been key in our community. There were many people who didn't know Mission 21 existed or how prevalent child prostitution is, not only in Minnesota, but in Rochester. That is just too close to home."

That's why she feels so strongly about bringing Holiday's blues, Garland's bluebirds and jazz, Crosby's crooning and Fitzgerald's heartfelt ballads, and best yet, George Burns's and Gracie's comedy, back to the VCC stage.

"We started rehearsing the first week of April on Thursday nights. This group of people is already so talented, and most have a performing background, so we were ready to start rehearsing right away," she said. "We have some new faces, new styles, more new songs and, of course, all of the old favorites of the time.

"The costumes mostly look like what they would have worn in the 1940s. We try to do the hair, makeup, etc., like the performers of the era, including some of the signature things many of them wore.

"This will be like nothing you have ever experienced. The quality of the performers is outstanding, the mood of the room is straight out of the 1940s and the hope of what we are trying to do is an emotional journey. You will probably laugh and cry, and then want to get up and swing, all at the same time. It is definitely an event you will remember."

The benefit's admission is a free-will donation, "a donation from the heart," said Kellogg Bradley. "We had an ice storm last year at Gala time, and so the numbers for the audience were way down, but we still raised $1,400, which was amazing compared to the number in the audience. Our goal this year is to raise $5,000 for the cause.

"Seating is limited, but we will try to accommodate every person that wants to see the show. Other years, we have taken reservations, and it really has not been beneficial because there are always more people that come than actually make reservations, so this year, it is first-come, first-serve, and we will do our best to accommodate."

The 1940s Gala is slated for May 9 at 7 p.m. and May 10 at 1:30 p.m. at Valley Christian Center in Spring Valley, 610 Territorial Road. For more information on the event, call Valley Christian Center at 346-2101, and to learn more about Mission 21, visit www.mission21mn.org or e-mail Kellogg Bradley at pollyjo38@yahoo.com.