Fanfare/Columbia season again offers "something for everyone"
Contact: Christina Chapple
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(1) THEY’RE BACK! – Celebrating the release of their 29th album “Obama Mia,” the Capitol Steps returns to Southeastern Louisiana University’s Fanfare with a new presidential administration at its satirical mercy. The talented ensemble will add its hilarious musical spin to national politics and international events Oct. 23. 7:30 p.m., at the Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts.
(2) LOUISIANA’S FIDDLING BEST – Louisiana’s legendary fiddler Doug Kershaw will bring his world-renowned style to Southeastern Louisiana University’s Fanfare with an Oct. 7 performance at the Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts.
(3) SHOWCASING AFRICAN-AMERICAN COMPOSERS – Pianist and scholar William Chapman Nyaho, renowned for his recitals of piano music by composers of the African Diaspora, will be the special guest of Southeastern Louisiana University’s Fanfare on Oct. 13 at the Pottle Music Building Auditorium.
(4) GUITAR HUMOR – Mike Rayburn, the “World’s Funniest Guitar Virtuoso,” will perform his hilarious show “Some Strings Attached: Classically Trained, Comically Derailed” at the Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts on Oct. 15 during Southeastern Louisiana University’s Fanfare.
(5) MUSICAL SPOOF – “Altar Boyz,” a musical-comedy spoof for the entire family about a fictitious Christian boy-band will open the 2009-210 Mainstage Season of Southeastern Louisiana University’s Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts. The show is scheduled for Nov. 14, 7:30 p.m., at the university’s downtown Hammond theater.
(6) R&B LEGENDS – Boyz II Men, hailed by the Recording Industry Association of America as the most commercially successful R&B group of all time, will perform at Southeastern Louisiana University’s Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts on May 21.
(7) GRAMMY NOMINEES – The Mainstage Season of Southeastern Louisiana University’s Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts includes a June 5 performance by Grammy-nominated Restless Heart, a group whose music has electrified audiences around the world for 25 years.
HAMMOND – More than two decades after Southeastern Louisiana University launched Fanfare, the annual festival of the arts, humanities and social sciences is still following its successful pattern of offering “something for everyone” – inevitably with a new or intriguing twist. The Fanfare 24th season is no exception.
In addition to its usual October showcase of music, dance, theater, lectures, films, children’s events and exhibits, Fanfare 2009 will feature a student-alumni celebration of 75 years of Southeastern opera and musical theater and a day of entertaining presentations dedicated to an unexpected topic – madness.
Expect, said Donna Gay Anderson, who directs both Fanfare and the year-long Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts season that follows, “another spectacular roster of entertainment that is sure to engage, inspire and entertain you, your family and friends.”
The College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences has chosen the intriguing, but often misunderstood topic of madness for a day-long examination of its relationship to art, literature and society.
Psychology professor James Worthen, interim assistant dean, said each of the college’s eight departments will be represented in the Oct. 27 event, which will feature a dozen presentations that include “Romantic Madness,” “Crazy Stories: Representation of Madness and Mad Authorship in Literature and Film,” “Madness and Modern Life,” and “Cultural Perceptions of Insanity and Suicide Bombers.”
Worthen said in addition to showcasing the college’s faculty, the program’s goal is “to illustrate how prevalent psychological illness can be among people of accomplishment and to promote sensitivity.”
Another Fanfare highlight will showcase the talents of current and former students of the acclaimed Opera/Music Theatre Workshop, staged in honor of the Department of Music and Dramatic Arts’ 75th anniversary.
Workshop director Charles Effler said eight students will be joined by alumni singers for a program of opera and Broadway solos and scenes, some “new” to area audiences, others reprising past workshop successes such as The Tender Land, Too Many Sopranos, and A Little Night Music. Alumni musicians will make up the live orchestra, and the evening will culminate with a grand chorale of “as many people as possible who ever participated in an Opera/Music Theatre Workshop show,” Effler said. “We’ll rehearse as one big chorus on Sunday afternoon – and bring down the house with the finale.”
Alumni returning for the gala will include San Francisco Opera soprano Daveda Karanas of Mandeville, who will perform her winning aria from the 2008 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions (as well as take the stage for a solo Fanfare concert on Oct. 21), and Steven Daigle, head of the opera program at the Eastman School of Music and artistic director of the Ohio Light Opera.
Daigle will present a special award to longtime Opera/Music Theatre Workshop director Scharmal Schrock, to whom the concert will be dedicated. Now a member of the faculty at Indiana University Jacob School of Music, Schrock headed the workshop for more than 20 years.
In addition to the Opera/Music Theatre Workshop gala, the acclaimed Southeastern Wind Symphony, Chamber Orchestra, and Concert Choir/Women’s Chorale will also present concerts celebrating the department’s anniversary and showcasing student and alumni talent.
Anderson said Fanfare 2009 will host fresh new productions by returning favorites. A new presidential administration means sidesplitting new material for always popular musical satirists the Capitol Steps. And Fanfare wouldn’t be Fanfare without the Missoula Children’s Theatre, which will dash into town, cast, rehearse and star area children in The Princess and the Pea, leaving enthusiastically applauding audiences again wondering how they pull it all off in just one week.
Also on the Fanfare 2009 entertainment menu are guitarist/comedian Mike Rayburn, starring in “Some Strings Attached: Classically Trained, Comically Derailed”; astronaut Robert “Hoot” Gibson, veteran of five NASA space missions; pianist William Nyaho Chapman, performing a program by composers of African descent; Louisiana’s incomparable fiddle player Doug Kershaw, the “Ragin Cajun”; Sherman Alexie’s critically acclaimed novel “Flight” brought to life as a one-person theatrical adaptation by the American Place Theatre; and the Southeastern Theatre’s production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
The Department of History and Political Sciences’ witty, erudite “Then and Now” lecture series will feature faculty talks on topics ranging from Henry VIII to the Devil and rock and roll to Ulysses S. Grant. The series’ umbrella will also encompass the premiere of “Louisiana’s Lost Treasure: The Isleños,” a documentary by history major Samantha Perez and communication major Joshua Robin about the history and culture of the Isleño population in St. Bernard Parish. The students created the film last spring in a first-ever joint independent study class directed by communication and history faculty.
As October ends, the Columbia Theatre’s Mainstage season opens, offering non-stop entertainment through summer 2010.
The season will include the incomparable, iconic R&B group Boyz II Men; the wacky, award-winning New York production of “Altar Boyz,” Windwood Theatrical’s version of the Broadway hit “Cabaret”; Cajun fiddling sensation Amanda Shaw -- who was once a student at Southeastern’s Community Music School -- and “Mama’s Night Out,” a hilarious look at motherhood and marriage.
“Pajamas and Play,” the Columbia’s special series for its youngest fans, has been a hit during its first two seasons. This year, the just-for-children performances will include a concert by PBS’s favorite canine rocker Raggs, and the touching classic “The Velveteen Rabbit.”
The Columbia’s Mainstage season also includes a Veteran’s Day concert by the Southeastern Jazz Ensemble; the Baton Rouge Symphony’s “Christmas Brass and Percussion” concert; the Louisiana public premiere of “Darwin: An Adventure for All Ages,” a unique cutting-edge theatrical presentation blending puppetry, technology and dance; the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” concert; “Ain't Got Long to Stay Here,” actor, writer, producer Barry Scott’s powerful tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; and the legendary country group and four-time Grammy nominee Restless Heart.
For complete details, dates and ticket prices for Fanfare 2009 and the Columbia Theatre Mainstage season, visit columbiatheatre.org. Meanwhile, here are some additional Fanfare highlights:
▪ “nma@selu: New Media and Animation at Southeastern Louisiana University,” an exhibit at the Hammond Regional Arts Center showcasing student and faculty work from the New Media and Animation Program in Southeastern’s Department of Visual Arts;
▪ The jazz duo of Richard Schwartz, saxophone, and Danny Acosta, guitar, in a special Sunday afternoon concert at the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Maritime Museum;
▪ The “Sunday with the Arts” series of concerts at area churches and other venues, featuring a performance by Guitar Louisiane;
▪ The annual Fanfare’s Foreign Film Series showing a sample of the best Spanish, French, German and Italian flicks;
▪ From the community, a day devoted to the art of quilting in historic downtown Ponchatoula, the Hungarian Cultural Celebration in Livingston Parish, and Saturday morning programs for children at the Hammond library.
Many Fanfare events are free. Individual tickets for Fanfare and Columbia Theatre Mainstage events will go on sale Sept. 9 online at columbiatheatre.org and at the Columbia/Fanfare box office, 220 E. Thomas Street, 985-543-4371. Columbia Mainstage season tickets will be available to new subscribers Aug. 10-28.
The box office is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., and one hour prior to Columbia performances. For a complete schedule, contact the Columbia/Fanfare office at 985-543-4366 or visit columbiatheatre.org.