River Campus season better than ever Mix of touring and staff, student shows sure to please audiences

Friday, October 5, 2012
“A Chorus Line” is coming to the River Campus in January. (Submitted photo)

By James Samons

The Southeast Missouri State University River Campus's 2012-2013 season will once again offer an array of performing arts events by professional touring companies as well as the school's faculty and students of music, theater and dance.

Each yearlong season consists of a Symphony, Touring and Theatre and Dance Series, and each series consist of several individual shows. Department of Theatre and Dance professor Marc Strauss said each new season brings better and better entertainment, and the upcoming season will continue that trend.

"We've got another great mix of popular entertainment and challenging, thought-provoking work available for everyone on and off campus," Strauss said. "All three have 'can't-miss' productions, frankly, due to the versatility and artistic evolution of everyone at the River Campus."

River Campus assistant director Bob Cerchio said comparing seasons from year to year is difficult, but this one will be as good as any.

Bob Cerchio, assistant director of Southeast Missouri State University's River Campus, (File photo)

"I learned early on not to compare seasons. They're all excellent in their own way," Cerchio said. "What's important is you know that if it's at the River Campus, it's going to be a terrific show."

Ticket prices vary depending on the event, but River Campus box office manager Ellen Farrow said that, all in all, prices are affordable.

"For the type of entertainment you're getting, it's a steal," Farrow said. "Some shows are cheaper than others, but the range when you look at cheapest seat at the least expensive show to highest seat at the most expensive show."

In the six-event Touring Series, shows are priced from $26 to $49. Tickets for the five-event Symphony Series range from $14 to $19. And tickets for the eight-event Theatre and Dance Series cost from $15 to $20.

"I'd say tickets are selling at about the same rate they did last year, and that's saying something because we had a great year," Farrow said. "It's very early, but I could see a few of these selling out."

Jack Gibbons

To get tickets, seating layout and more show information, contact the River Campus box office at 573-651-2265 or visit rivercampusvents.com.

Touring series

The touring series begins Oct. 5 with "Titanic: The Musical," which recounts the hopes and aspirations of those aboard the ship. The story of the launching, the collision with the iceberg and the sinking is played out against the class-distinctions of the passengers. A stoker, a lookout and a telegraph operator all reveal their perspectives as events unfold.

After New Dance Horizons shuffle through Oct. 16, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees Dr. John and the Blind Boys of Alabama roll in Oct. 18. The five-time Grammy winners will be premiering their new album, "Spirituals to Funk." The show is based on 1930s Carnegie Hall spirituals and swing concerts, and explores the connections between jazz, blues and gospel.

"A Chorus Line" -- winner of nine Tony Awards, including best musical, and recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for drama -- kicks off Jan. 28. Earl and Margie Holland, for whom the Earl and Margie Holland School of Visual and Performing Arts at Southeast is named, have selected this show as the special choice event this season.

The series continues with Irish classic "Celtic Nights" on Feb. 27, and "Swan Lake," which is known as the quintessential ballet, performed by the Russian National Ballet Theatre on April 26.

Symphony series

The series starts Oct. 8, as acclaimed concert pianist Jack Gibbons is featured in a performance of Rachmaninoff's Concerto No. 2 for piano and orchestra.

Next is "Vespers" by Mozart and the "Reformation Symphony" by Romantic composer Mendelssohn, which will be performed Dec. 4 by the Southeast Choral Union and University Choir. Both groups will perform with the orchestra again during the presentation of celebrated English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams' "Five Mystical Songs" on March 12.

Highlighting the series will be a special guest symphony performance by the China National Symphony Orchestra at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 25. Known as one of the most outstanding orchestras in China, this team of instrumentalists combines artistry, dedication and professionalism to introduce audiences to a vast repertoire of classical, romantic, modern and contemporary works.

The series closes with the Symphonic Spectacular on April 29. The orchestra will be joined by the Southern Illinois Symphony in a festive concert of works for large, symphonic orchestra. Featured will be the world premiere of a work by acclaimed American composer James M. Stephenson commemorating the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War, titled "Two Brothers."

Theater and dance

This series opens with a bang as hit musical "Grease" slides in Sept. 26 to 30. One of the most popular films and longest-running Broadway musicals of all time, this Tony Award-winning high school musical rocks with high energy and features such hit songs as "Summer Nights," "Beauty School Dropout" and "Greased Lightnin'."

Arthur Miller's Tony Award-winning drama "The Crucible" comes next from Nov. 7 through 11. Focusing on the Puritan purge of witchcraft in Salem, Mass., this drama is described by critics as both a gripping historical play and a timely parable of contemporary society.

After the annual student and faculty showcase "Fall for Dance" from Nov. 29 to Dec. 1 and Eric Overmyer's lighthearted "On the Verge" Dec. 5 to 9, the season continues with Broadway classic and Tony Award-winning musical "Annie," a familiar show for children of all ages, Feb. 20 to 24. Following up "Annie" will be "The Miss Firecracker Contest" from April 3 to 7. Beth Henley's offbeat comedy featuring larger-than-life characters exploring the themes of femininity, beauty and the need to be accepted.

The season concludes with the another annual faculty and student showcase, "Spring Into Dance," April 18 to 21.