Photo via Kristina Lakey
Photo via Kristina Lakey

Get your Friday night culture fix by tuning in to Kristina Lakey and Dan Gerics’s themed concerts on Facebook Live, complete with professional costumes, fun staging and curated setlists. 

FLINT, MI — Like many Michiganders, married performance artists Kristina Lakey and Dan Gerics said they were “financially smacked” by the coronavirus outbreak in Michigan. 

Under normal conditions, Gerics teaches drama at Mott Community College and Saginaw Valley State while Lakey works as a sign language interpreter in education and theater. Gerics said he’s still teaching online, but Lakey essentially lost her job when public gatherings were effectively banned across the state. 

Unlike other Michiganders, though, this pair is getting through the economic downturn by raiding their walk-in costume closet every Friday to stream themed concerts via Facebook Live — for cashless tips. 

Both Lakey and Gerics are known in the community for their work as lively and engaging performers.

Lakey runs popular theater troupe The Goblin King Players, who just lost their May run of The Lost Boys. 

As for Gerics: “I joined a Beatles tribute band,” he said. “That was my main gig last summer, which this summer has been put off until all of this clears up, so that’s really hurting us. That’s what I do. I do drama and music. Those are my skills.”

It didn’t take long for the creative duo, who have a teenage daughter, to find a way to put those skills back to work under current limitations. 

Lakey and Geric’s Living Room Concert Series, which streams every Friday at 7 p.m. on Geric’s public Facebook profile, began as a one-off live stream of Gerics playing songs he had prepared for a David Bowie tribute concert that was postponed due to coronavirus concerns. 

“Dan had been really gearing up for that first David Bowie concert with his band and I knew he was disappointed,” said Lakey, “so I suggested we do it anyway. People can tune in. That’s how it started.” 

They were excited by the positive engagement they received and said that when it came to their virtual tip jar, people were generous and helpful. Gerics said that’s when they decided to make it a weekly thing.

“The second week we had a lot of people join who were … talking and it seemed to be a thing where you could forget what was happening and just enjoy,” said Lakey, who steps off camera every so often while Gerics performs solo to engage with the audience in the live chat. 

“That’s ultimately what I think art does and should do, is make you forget your problems and just be in the moment,” she said. “That’s what I would like to cultivate.”

The couple’s third and most recent live stream featured an ‘80s-themed setlist, with such hits as Violent Femmes’ “Blister in the Sun” and Taco’s cover of “Puttin’ on the Ritz” raking in dozens of heart reacts. 

It was hard to believe that everything Lakey and Gerics incorporated into that show they had on hand in their theatrical collections, including vivid pink and purple stage lighting, long strings of costume beads, a loud patterned shirt with huge collar, and — oh, yes — a gold lamé shirt to die for. 

And future live streams promise equally fun and elaborate setups. Lakey hinted that future shows include stints from “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” and  may have a Renaissance theme in homage to local Holly’s famous Renaissance Festival. 

While virtual tips from the concerts are helping Lakey and Gerics support their family through Michigan’s stay-at-home order, they both agree that embracing art in times of crisis is vital. 

“What everybody is turning to right now is escapism,” said Gerics. “People are binge-watching shows, people are reading. 

If there’s one thing that this situation has brought to light, it’s how many things we rely on without even thinking about it, like how important the arts are … How important these things are that we could argue about in normal times, but in times like this the answers become very, very clear. 

And anyone who says they don’t support the arts, well, they can turn off their TV and close all the books until this is over and then tell me how they feel.” 

“I feel like [the concert] is the one time of the week when things are normal again, because I’ve performed and connected with my friends,” said Lakey. 

“So for me it’s like a release. It’s a really good time. I usually sleep very well after we do those. Things are OK, the world is still turning, people are still out there. 

And when financial support does come in, man, I just feel really loved and supported.” 

You can catch Kristina Lakey and Dan Gerics streaming live in concert on Geric’s public Facebook profile every Friday at 7 p.m. EST.