The Arts at JMU Welcome New Year in New State-of-the-Art Center

From: Public Affairs

The inaugural season at the Forbes Center for the Performing Arts at James Madison University offers a wide variety of first-class entertainment for Shenandoah Valley audiences. Choices range from performances by contemporary country singer Phil Vassar to cutting-edge theatrical productions to a comic introduction into the world of grand opera to high-energy modern dance.

Showcasing the best of JMU student and faculty talent as well as quality guest artists, the JMU Masterpiece Season runs from Sept. 8 through April 30 and opens with Vassar performing from his repertoire of hit songs. A native of Lynchburg, the award-winning singer and songwriter attended JMU, where he first began to take music seriously, on a track scholarship.

Also in September is the annual New Dance Festival, featuring the Eisenhower Dance Ensemble’s award-winning work “Motown in Motion” and performances by JMU faculty dancers Cynthia Thompson, Kate Trammell, Shane O’Hara and Suzanne Miller-Corso.

The first of two community open houses to spotlight the Forbes Center, comprised of the Dorothy Thomasson Estes Center for Theatre and Dance and the Shirley Hanson Roberts Center for Music Performance, and its five remarkable venues – the Mainstage Theatre, Concert Hall, Recital Hall, Studio Theatre and Earlynn J. Miller Dance Theatre – is scheduled for Sept. 26. The second open house is Nov. 6.

Audience favorite traditional events, such as Holidayfest, a concert for welcoming the season with music, and performances by JMU’s own Virginia Repertory Dance Company, Contemporary Dance Ensemble and the JMU Symphony Orchestra are part of the season. The JMU Opera Theatre presents Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro,” while the JMU Theatre produces “Metamorphoses,” “Letters to Sala,” “Kiss Me Kate” and “Arcadia.”

The JMU Jazz Ensemble and guest artists present the Mary Lou Williams 100th Anniversary Tribute Jazz Concert to honor one of the most celebrated female composers, arrangers and jazz pianists of the 20th century. The JMU Marimba Orchestra, Steel Drum Band and faculty musicians perform an exciting world premiere of a work written by Jamieson Carr for the opening of the Forbes Center and the JMU Wind Symphony, Symphonic Band and faculty soloists present the premiere of “Shadow of Sirius” by Joel Puckett.

Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood, stars of the Emmy-nominated “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” return to JMU’s Wilson Hall Auditorium to present an evening of improvisational comedy after their sold-out performance last year. Guest artists and companies joining the Masterpiece Season in the Forbes Center are Alarm Will Sound, Birgit Fioravante and Wendy Reynolds – the “Duelling Divas” – Liz Lerman Dance Exchange, the Harlem Gospel Choir and Imago Theatre’s “ZooZoo.”

In addition to the Masterpiece Season, the Forbes Center for the Performing Arts will offer many other concerts and events. For detailed information and ticket sales, call (540) 568-7000 or visit http://www.jmu.edu/JMUarts.

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Aug. 25, 2010