Performing Arts Center to welcome back live entertainment

The Clark State Performing Arts Center’s (PAC) Kuss Auditorium has been quiet, the lights dimmed and the seats empty, save for a Springfield Symphony Orchestra concert, since March 2020.

As the effects of the pandemic have lessened and a new sense of normality is setting in, the PAC staff wants to welcome back audiences with a new season of 11 concerts, theater and multi-media experiences at its venue, located at 300 South Limestone St.

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For a presenter such as PAC executive director Adele Adkins, not being able to bring shows to the community has been tough. That makes this the most emotional and exciting season she’s announced in her 18 years of programming.

It will start with “Welcome Home – PAC Celebration for Our Community” at 5 and 8 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 10. Patrons are welcome to enjoy goods from several food trucks and then live performances on the Kuss stage from local country performer Wyatt McCubbin, the Springfield Symphony Orchestra’s Brass Quintet and others.

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“We are welcoming not only the community back to the venue, but our wonderful resident arts groups who have a place in the evening too. I don’t like the motto ‘Something for Everybody,’ but in this case I believe that saying is true,” said Adkins.

The pandemic left uncertainties and Adkins has felt like she’s been trying to program this series for a year, not always knowing if certain tours would be out.

“There have been so many starts and stops because of the uncertainty of live performance,” she said. “At some point in January, a majority of the industry took a leap of faith and touring and programming started to take shape.”

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Roughly half the shows were previously scheduled.

Adkins said the PAC is allowed to move ahead with 100 percent seating capacity and the health and safety of the patrons, staff and volunteers will be a priority at all events. Attendees will be required to follow whatever health department guidelines are at a given time.

Tickets for all events will be available through ticketmaster.com in mid-July. For more information, go to the PAC’s website or social media pages.

“Waitress National Broadway Tour,” 8 p.m. Oct. 2. This Tony Award-nominated musical was originally to round out the 2019-2020 season. This works out better as the rehearsals and technical period will be at the Kuss according to Adkins, which will also lead to the 60-member cast and crew boosting the city’s economy for the three weeks they’re here.

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Diamond Rio, 7 p.m. Oct. 7. The longtime country favorites will play their hits, while Wyatt McCubbin will open the show.

Hairspray National Broadway Tour,” 7 p.m. Dec. 14. A newer classic musical that has been long-awaited to tour. Adkins was able to get a date before some of the bigger markets due to their rescheduling.

Mannheim Steamroller, 7 p.m. Dec. 20. The group that sets the holiday season sound for many people will perform the PAC’s annual holiday show all ages can enjoy.

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Anais Mitchell and the Bonny Light Horseman, 8 p.m. Feb. 10. A Tony Award-winner combined with a two-time Grammy nominee for a super group that will play traditional folk songs infused with a contemporary twist.

Trey McLaughlin and the Sounds of Zamar, 8 p.m. Feb. 26. A group Adkins has tried to bring in for a while can have audiences laughing, crying and dancing all within its show of contemporary gospel, musical theater and original compositions.

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Aquila Theatre Company of London presents “The Great Gatsby,” 7 p.m. March 3. Returning to the series, Aquila Theatre will perform the timeless story, and Clark State president Dr. Jo Alice Blondin will present a pre-show lecture about the classic book.

”Fiddler on the Roof,” 7 p.m. March 9. A beloved classic musical filled with plenty of familiar tunes and the themes of family, faith and tradition.

The TEN Tenors – “Love is in the Air,” 8 p.m. March 26. The Australian ensemble that has had international success will fill the Kuss Auditorium with love and song during this upbeat presentation.

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The British Invasion – Live on Stage, 8 p.m. April 30. A new multi-media tour from the United Kingdom, the PAC was the first venue to submit an offer for it in the U.S. It puts the audience in the center of the swinging ’60s with projection photos, film footage and live British pop music that defined the time. Adkins said this was perhaps the show she’s most excited to get and the producers and Sony Music plan a surprise when they are here.

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