basie-marquee1The Basie is giving an electronic shout-out to Roy McCurdy now that it’s completed the marquee. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)


Roy McCurdy spent 19 years taking an extended pole outside the Count Basie Theatre to change the names on the theater marquee. And he’s proud to say he did it with few misspellings.

“‘Engelbert Humperdinck‘— try spelling that without it written down letter by letter for you,” McCurdy said. “That’s a difficult one.”

When theater fired up a new digital marquee this week, so ended McCurdy’s days in front of it. But for the moment, he’s on it.

Ben Kelly of the Basie marketing department made this video tribute to McCurdy and posted it on YouTube.

While contractors knock out a few small punch list items on the theater’s “Let’s Face It,” facade upgrade portion of a multi-million dollar, multi-year renovation project, the Basie staff is giving its e-thanks to McCurdy for almost two decades of labor and proper spelling.

The message reads: “Thank You Roy McCurdy! 19 years of changing the old marquee letters!”

“It’s nice to see his name up there instead of him putting up other people’s names,” said Diana St. John, marketing director.

Although the theater went overtime on the $2 million facelift — it was expected to be done in September — it came in $7,000 under budget, Executive Director Numa Saisselin said.

Well worth it, he said. The theater now has more exposed brick, enhanced fronts and brand new windows in addition to the LED marquee.

“It looks clean, it looks tight, it looks sharp,” Saisselin said. “I don’t think the front of this building has looked so good since the beginning.”

Saisselin said “for all intents and purposes” the work is done.

McCurdy, however, is not. Although changing the marquee letters was a key part of his job as the theater’s maintenance supervisor, he’ll have plenty of work to do, he said — just one task fewer, one he’s not particularly sad to shed it from his list of duties, especially since Engelbert Humperdinck is expected to return to the Basie in March.

“Yeah, most definitely,” McCurdy said. “I don’t have to go out in the 20-degree weather, I don’t have to go out in the pouring rain with my duck suit on. But it was my responsibility. I had to do it.”