News Column

Audra McDonald Headlines UAFS Season Of Entertainment

August 1, 2013

YellowBrix

Aug. 01--Acclaimed singer-actress Audra McDonald, award-winning plays and local-based presentations will be among the many "sweet" spots found in one local, long-running entertainment series, said one official.

The University of Arkansas at Fort Smith's Season of Entertainment 33 schedule will serve national-touring productions of "Memphis," "Man of La Mancha," "Bring It On: The Musical" and "The Addams Family," as well as a variety of performances by local theater and music students, said Stacey Jones, UAFS associate vice chancellor for campus and community events. All of the shows will comprise one of the university's most diverse, "exciting" lineups, he said.

"When you have a superstar like Audra McDonald headlining the season, it's such an exciting occasion," Jones said. "She has probably sang with every major symphony orchestra in the country.

"You don't get stars of that caliber in our neck of the woods often," he added. "That's why it's a great joy to have her with us this year."

A featured singer at the most recent Tony Awards ceremony, McDonald has won five Tonys and two Grammys. For four years, she played Dr. Naomi Bennett on the ABC series, "Private Practice," and recently released her solo album, "Go Back Home."

McDonald's Fort Smith concert will feature a variety of opera and Broadway material, Jones said.

"I'm just ecstatic about Audra McDonald and all of the shows we are doing," he said. "'Memphis' has won several Tony Awards, and the remaining shows are equally impressive."

"Bring It On: The Musical" has received two Tony nominations, and "Man of La Mancha" has been called a cornerstone of theater by fans and critics alike, Jones said.

"'The Addams Family' will be a show that will be a lot of fun, too," he said. "This will be some of the best musical theater we have offered in a long time."

The national-touring shows and the UAFS vocal and instrumental music concerts will be held at the Arkansas Best Corporation Performing Arts Center, 55 S. Seventh St., while the Theatre @ UAFS performances will be staged at UAFS's Breedlove Auditorium, 5210 Grand Ave.

Following is a list of the season's events:

--7:30 p.m. Oct. 14 and 7:30 p.m. April 17 -- UAFS Symphonic Band Concert.

--7:30 p.m. Oct. 17-19 and Oct. 21-22 -- Theatre @ UAFS production, "Lend Me a Tenor."

--7:30 p.m. Oct. 24 and 7:30 p.m. April 28 -- UAFS Choral Concert.

--7:30 p.m. Nov. 1 -- Audra McDonald. The popular singer will perform a wide range of songs, including opera pieces and Broadway tunes.

--8 p.m. Nov. 16 -- "Memphis." This relevant story line presents the bond formed between a white man and a black woman in the 1950s. The man is a radio DJ, hoping to change the world, and the woman is a club singer hoping to see her name on large marquees someday.

--7:30 p.m. Nov. 19 and 7:30 p.m. April 8 -- UAFS Jazz Concert.

--7:30 p.m. Dec. 2 -- Season's Greetings Concert.

--7:30 p.m. Feb. 4 -- "Man of La Mancha." The popular production includes the well-known, well-loved song, "Impossible Dream," and follows Don Quixote and his journey. The show features comedic and dramatic elements alike.

--7:30 p.m. Feb. 13-15 -- Theatre @ UAFS production, "Crimes of the Heart."

--7:30 p.m. Feb. 17 -- "Bring It On: The Musical." This play focuses intensely on a high school cheerleading competition and how the young women vying for victory learn about life and relationships.

--7:30 p.m. April 5 -- "The Addams Family." Centered around the brooding, quick-witted family, this production ran on Broadway from March 2010 until December 2011, becoming one of Broadway's biggest plays.

"We truly feel that this is an entertainment season that is hard to beat," Jones said. "I'm very excited by what we are offering to our community. It's going to be an incredible season."

Season tickets are $220 and can be purchased through Aug. 30 by calling 788-7300. Individual tickets will go on sale Sept. 2.

For information, visit uafs.edu/season.

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(c)2013 Times Record (Fort Smith, Ark.)

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