When a performing arts organization with 29 years of presenting a variety of high-profile acts and shows claims it has perhaps its most distinct season of entertainment yet, it’s quite a statement.
Dan Hunt, interim executive director of the Clark State Performing Arts Center (PAC), declared this sentiment in introducing the 2022-2023 season, that will feature not only a range of arts but genres including classic traveling shows, holiday themes, family events, cultural arts and more.
Season and individual event tickets will be on sale in August at a date to be announced, Hunt said.
“I’d say this is possibly our most diverse season in a long time. There’s just something for everybody,” he said.
The season will lead off with a show that was postponed from last season, the classic “Fiddler on the Roof” on Oct. 7. The story of changing times in pre-revolutionary Russia through the eyes of a poor milkman trying to find husbands for his daughters has been reimagined with a fresh look.
“It’s an exciting new take on a classic story,” Hunt said.
The PAC will also renew another tradition as “Fiddler on the Roof” cast and crew will tech the show, or get it set through rehearsals and behind the scenes work, for about two weeks prior to its opening here and going on a countrywide tour. As shows came back from the pandemic, they filled up in New York City quickly, and “Fiddler” found a convenient alternative here.
“For the last four or five years, we’ve been the place to go. Our facilities are good for that,” said Hunt. “We have a hotel near the theater and they stay and spend money here while preparing the show.”
The PAC will host two holiday-themed shows in the fall, one with a familiar brand and the other a different take on a familiar story. The Illusionists, a fixture show here each season for several years now, will again tech a few days ahead before beginning its new tour, “The Illusionists – Magic of the Holidays” here on Nov. 8 as an early seasonal gift.
Hunt said while The Illusionists perform here each year, it’s never the same show twice, with different performers and this one will be themed around the holidays.
“Hip Hop Nutcracker” will offer an alternate take of the seasonal favorite with a holiday mash-up for the family on Dec. 3. This is a contemporary dance version on the classic that will include a dozen top dancers, a DJ, violinist and MC Kurtis Blow, one of the pioneers of rap and hip hop music.
“This show was in Dayton last year and did very well. It’s a way to see a different side of the story,” said Hunt, who added the traditional “Nutcracker” performed by the Ohio Performing Arts Institute, will again be performed later in the month.
The new year starts with one of the most beloved childhood characters of all-time with the musical “Winnie the Pooh” on Jan. 15. Pooh and all his friends will come to life through puppetry and song.
Hunt said it’s similar to the way “The Lion King” is presented with life-size puppets and everything you love about the characters. It was a recent hit off theater row in New York, he said.
Another familiar group devoted to staging literary classics returns on March 7 when Aquila Theatre Company of London presents “Pride and Prejudice.” Aquila has previously performed productions of literary classics “Sherlock Holmes”, “Frankenstein” and, earlier this year, “The Great Gatsby”.
“This fits in a lot with us being a higher education program and we are happy to have these productions,” said Hunt.
As she has with previous such shows, Clark State President Dr. Jo Alice Blondin will do a pre-show lecture on “Pride and Prejudice”. She enjoys getting back to her roots of teaching classic literature for such occasions.
Another new experience will bring a bit of Bollywood to Springfield with Taj Express on March 16, with the sounds and hits of Indian culture and Bollywood, including a variety of dance in this musical with colorful costumes, choreography and live music.
“We’ve had nothing on this scale before. We’re excited to bring it to Springfield,” he said.
The Clark State Theatre Arts Program will present two shows. “Red Herring”, Oct. 28-Nov. 6 at the Turner Studio Theatre, has three love stories, a murder mystery and nuclear espionage plot in a noir comedy about marriage set in the early 1950s.
The program will return with “Clyborne Park”, April 14-23. This show features two acts set fifty years apart starting in 1959 when white community leaders try to stop a black family from buying a home, then the second act is set in the same house in the present day, now a predominantly Black neighborhood trying to hold its ground in the face of gentrification.
But that’s not all, as they say in the business. Hunt said a country music act will also be added and possibly other shows if dates and touring schedules coincide.
For more information on the season or tickets, go to pac.clarkstate.edu/.
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