Week to remember shows off new River Campus

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

"Big River," the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, is rolling tonight, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Bedell Theater at Southeast Missouri State University's new River Campus.

I understand tickets are still available. This is a don't-miss production. Why? Because (1) you'll enjoy yourself, (2) the students deserve an audience to share their months of hard work to give you a show to remember, and (3) you'll want to check out and enjoy this new performing arts center and its historic first-ever musical production.

Some of us saw four short numbers from the show during last week's River Campus open house. We saw great singing, dancing, costumes and music.

Congratulations on the announcement of Don Dickerson as this year's Friend of the University.

Don is a former student, campus musician and debater. He served as president of the university's board of regents for eight years, and he is a generally unsung hero as one of the driving forces that made the River Campus a reality.

His friendship with Gov. Mel Carnahan, his many hours of devotion to the university (first with president Dale Nitzschke and then president Ken Dobbins) along with the initial funding nursed along by Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder (during his Senate days) helped create one of the greatest weeks in Cape Girardeau's history: the opening events of the River Campus school of performing arts.

There were many great speeches, remarks, and entertainment at the River Campus events last weekend.

Here are some of my highlights:

1. The remarks and general handling of the smoothly choreographed different events and functions by Southeast Missouri State University president Dobbins (one month's work in five days of events).

2. The introductions and inspirational remarks of SEMO Foundation director Wayne Smith.

3. Director of alumni services Jane Stacy's always to-the-point, informative and witty introduction of the Distinguished Service Award winners at the alumni breakfast.

4. Don Dickerson's dream speech.

5. Mayor Jay Knudtson's dance (you had to be there).

6. Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder's wrap-up Churchillian closing of the official opening ceremony. I've never heard him any better.

7. Artist Gary Lucey's comments on life and the origin, history and soul put into his one-of-a-kind mural.

8. The passion and soft-spoken love and history given to those who attended the lecture by Dr. John Hainsworth and his collection of paintings in the outstanding new museum put together by Stanley Grand. Plan on staying at least one hour for the video, the historic displays and the paintings.

9. Chartwell's food and service.

10. The vocal solos of Lori Shaffer and Chris Goeke.

11. The Southeast brass quintet.

12. The new Barbara Hope Kem Statuary Hall.

13. The humbleness of Cedrick the Entertainer.

14. The many other special moments, including the wonderful remarks by all of the Alumni Merit Award winners on the meaning of their education at Southeast.

15. Judith Farris' contagious laughter, voice-teaching skills and student rapport.

That's what the campus is really all about: the students and this great new facility with its outstanding instructors to give them an experience and opportunity rarely made available.

While passing out praises: Congratulations to KZIM/KSIM Radio program director Faune Riggin for her recent well-deserved recognition as one of 10 best program directors in small-market radio in the Oct. 22 edition of Radio Ink, a radio industry magazine. This is the first time a program director from the Cape Girardeau market has been included in this list.

Gary Rust is chairman of Rust Communications.

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