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Performing Arts students, faculty plan year
of offerings for CCRI community

Oct. 30, 2013

Adam Florio and Jessica Still Adam Florio and Jessica Still play Sam and Susy Hendrix in "Wait Until Dark," which opened the CCRI Players' 2013-14 season earlier this month. Their next production is "Spitfire Grill" in December.

The Community College of Rhode Island’s Department of Performing Arts has a lot to look forward to during the 2013-14 academic year – and so, too, does the college community. From a thrilling drama that will have audiences on the edge of their seats to jazz standards to lesser-known choral masterworks, there are performances to suit all tastes and budgets on campus this year.

Thrills, music and philosophy: the CCRI Players’ 2013-14 season

The Theatre program and the CCRI Players kicked off this season with “Wait Until Dark,” a thriller written by Frederick Knott, from Oct. 17 to 20. A student suggested the play to director Assistant Professor Luke J. Sutherland. Theatre Program manager Bert Silverberg said that students are always encouraged to make suggestions to the department when it comes to the play offerings. “We haven’t really done a play in this genre in a while,” said Silverberg. “It’s a change of pace, and a good play in its genre. It’s really a ‘boo’ play. There’s a climactic moment when the audience will all jump. It’s well-constructed that way, and will be fun for the audience.”

The set, designed by Sutherland, was skillfully spare in its representation of a Greenwich Village basement apartment where the main character, a blind woman, lives with her husband, a photographer. Silverberg said it’s a period piece that takes place in the 1960s, a fact that is important considering much of the plot hinges on gaps in communication rendered obsolete these days by cell phones.

Next up is “The Spitfire Grill,” a musical written by James Valcq and Fred Alley, running on the Knight Campus in Warwick from Dec. 5 to 8. Directed by Silverberg with musical direction from Dr. Audrey Kaiser, the play is a heartening work about three women who come together to help heal themselves and revitalize a small town. Silverberg said that he’s excited to present the show to audiences here, as “not many people have seen it … it really deserves to be better known than it is.”

An edgy, contemporary take on biblical times is next on the docket as “The Last Days of Judas Iscariot” by Stephen Adly Guirgis is presented on the Liston Campus in Providence from Feb. 20 to 23 and 28 and March 1 and 2. Assistant Professor Theodore R. Clement will direct the show, and Silverberg said the show has yet to have its auditions. “It’s about Judas and Jesus and their relationship,” he said, adding that “it raises some very provocative questions about religion.”

Rounding out the season is the annual student-directed production, the titles for which are yet to be announced. The Liston Campus will host the play or plays from April 24 to 27. Silverberg said that while there’s no directing class at CCRI, students who meet certain academic standards and have assisted or stage managed on a regular season production can apply to participate in the student director project.

“It’s a great opportunity for the students. They see the play production process from different perspectives, and get to know what’s involved,” he said, adding that audition numbers run quite high for the student directed project, making it a palatable entrée into the theater fold for many students.

Tickets for CCRI Players’ performances cost $12 for the general public and $10 for students, staff and senior citizens. Subscription pricing is available. Tickets can be ordered by email. ccriplayers@aol.com. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays and 2 p.m. on Sundays.

Hitting all the right notes: the fall concert season

Performing Arts Department Chairwoman Cheri Markward said that the fall semester will bring a variety of concerts and recitals ranging from jazz to chamber music.

On Nov. 5, the jazz ensembles concert will take place in Room 0540 at the Knight Campus under the direction of Dr. Stephen Lajoie. Admission to the 7 p.m. concert costs $5. Another concert by the ensembles will take place at 7 p.m. on Dec. 3 in the same venue for the same cost.

Student recitals, which are broken up by discipline, will allow the more than 20 music students taking applied lessons this semester the chance to perform for the public. The recitals are free of charge and all take place in Room 0540 at the Knight Campus. Jazz students will perform at 1 p.m. on Dec. 6, voice students at 1 p.m. on Dec. 10 and classical instrumentalists at 1 p.m. on Dec. 13.

The CCRI ChorusThe Chorus and Chamber Singers celebrate their repertoires at the Fall 2013 Choral Concert, which is set for 7 p.m. on Dec. 9 at the Bobby Hackett Theater at the Knight Campus. Under the direction of Dr. Joseph Amante, the two groups will perform selections from Vivaldi’s “Magnificat” as well as Daniel Pinkham’s “Christmas Cantada.”

Amante said he is excited to present these works, particularly Pinkham’s, as it’s the piece that really “put this New England-native composer on the map.” For its part, “Magnificat” promises many “difficult solos” for the students to shine on, said Amante. Admission costs $5 and will go toward funding music scholarships.

Although the fall concert is the major event for the Chorus and Chamber Singers, who number nearly 40 in all, there are some exciting happenings in the works off campus, Amante said. The groups have been invited to sing at Carnegie Hall in New York City in December, where they will plan to sing Schubert’s “Mass in G” with other colleges from around the country. Locally, they will be performing Mendelssohn’s “Elijah” with the Rhode Island Civic Chorale and Orchestra this November and December. “I’m really thrilled about these opportunities,” said Amante.

To round out the performing arts season, the Chamber Ensemble will give a concert in the Bobby Hackett Theater at the Knight Campus at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 12. Markward, who is directing the concert with Charles Kalajian, said that the repertoire promises to be exciting. With a larger percussion section this year, and introducing a student who plays the steel drum, Markward said that “the ensemble will have a combination of instruments that is very interesting,” all for the bargain price of $5, also to benefit music scholarships.

Markward said that the value of performing arts offerings, particularly at a community college like CCRI, can’t be understated. “The creative process in the arts is important for the development of certain parts of your brain … and it fosters a discipline as well as creativity and teamwork in ways that very few other things do.”

Silverberg concurred, noting that the environment at CCRI is ideal for students who want to explore out of their comfort zone. “I’ve had students who came into CCRI not having done any theater, and now it’s what they do for a living,” he said.


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