Once again, Central Junior High School students under the masterful direction of Mike Dumey have put on a first-rate musical production, this time "Beauty and the Beast." And once again, audiences were wowed by the talent on display. That's what proud parents, friends and community members have come to expect from the junior high extravaganzas involving 100-plus students.
A good deal of community support goes into the junior high productions as well. That's indicative of the backing the arts in general are enjoying in Cape Girardeau. With the recent outstanding production of "42nd Street" at Southeast Missouri State University, our city is building an even stronger reputation for excellence in the performing arts.
This well-deserved reputation underscores the bright future for the university's River Campus for the performing and visual arts, which will open to students this fall. Already the university is seeing an increased enrollment in arts majors. And, as artist-in-residence Judith Farris pointed out in a letter to the editor, there is a potential for a symbiotic relationship between local schools that place a premium on performance excellence and the River Campus.
As the Cape Girardeau area continues to find more ways to market its assets, the culture of performing arts at the junior high, high school and university levels certainly will be high on the list. Add to that the professional performances by touring companies that will be coming to the performance halls at the River Campus.
Just think. In a few years performers from this year's "Beauty and the Beast" will have an opportunity to pursue performing careers at the River Campus. Next stop: Broadway.