The new Department of Performing Arts at Fort Lewis College has been a long time coming. And now that it will be a reality with a new degree program in musical theater, it’s party time.
To celebrate, FLC has planned a Performing Arts Extravaganza. Festivities begin at 6 p.m. Friday outdoors in the plaza at the Community Concert Hall.
“It’s going to be really cool,” Charissa Chiaravalloti said. She has been chairwoman of the Music Department for the last three years, has functioned as chairwoman of the Department of Theatre since Ginny Davis moved on to Denver a year ago, and now will become head of the new FLC Department of Performing Arts.
“I wish I could be an audience member for the extravaganza,” Chiaravalloti said. “It’s going to be an evening with many types of music and performances – jazz, dance and even scenes from upcoming productions.”
At first, the audience will gather in the courtyard to enjoy wine and hors d’hoeuvres with music by the FLC Jazz and Brass Ensembles, the Jazz Combo and a dance sequence from “Swan Lake.” At 6:30 p.m., attendees will move into the lobby for performances by smaller chamber groups. Before 7 p.m., attendees will be encouraged by Hawkappella, the elite singing group originated by Chiaravalloti, to file into the Concert Hall for a more elaborate set of performances.
The FLC Symphonic Band, directed by Justin Hubbard, will perform “Illumination,” by David Maslanka. Chiaravalloti, Provost Cheryl Nixon and Dean Jesse Peters will speak between offerings.
“We’ve been given no more than three minutes each,” Chiaravalloti said. “We want the whole evening to feel like a salon program, combining music with scenes from plays and dance.”
Thinking ahead, a scene from a 2023 musical theater production will be presented: “Songs for a New World,” by Jason Robert Brown. That will be followed by a scene from the current play, “I & You.”
The FLC Chamber Choir will perform “Go Lovely Rose,” by Eric Whitacre, followed by a new Chamber Music Project spearheaded by Wesley Dunnagan. An ensemble made up of students and faculty members will present two of Brahms’ Liebeslieder-Walzer with dancing, choreographed by Suzy DiSanto. Dunnagan’s project, in which Chiaravalloti and Michael McKelvey will sing, will be followed by another dramatic preview from the 2023 schedule, a scene from Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.”
WHAT: Fort Lewis College Performing Arts Extravaganza.
WHERE: Community Concert Hall at FLC, 1000 Rim Drive.
WHEN: 6 p.m. Friday.
TICKETS: Adults: $30; FLC students free with Green Health Pass. Tickets available online at https://bit.ly/3JGri8w.
MORE INFORMATION: Email email@example.com, visit www.fortlewis.edu/theatre or call 247-7089.
The FLC Faculty Trio will perform the finale of Haydn’s Piano Trio No. 39 in G major. And for those who missed the recent production of “Sweeney Todd,” the entire cast plus pit orchestra will reprise the opening number. The Prelude tells the tale of the demon barber of Fleet Street.
To close the evening, a massive student-and-faculty ensemble will perform the stirring finale from Leonard Bernstein’s “Candide.” “Make Our Garden Grow” is a perfect statement of hope for the future.
A year ago, word slipped out that plans to hire a specialist in musical theater were afoot. On March 5, 2021, Chiaravalloti said: “Over the next year, music and theater will still be separate departments, but we’ll be under one umbrella. We’re searching for a musical theater specialist to develop a new degree program and a new curriculum.”
McKelvey became that that person. Recently, McKelvey was interviewed for a Durango Herald profile before the opening of “Sweeney Todd,” (Herald, March 30). McKelvey’s excellent production of “Sweeney Todd” was performed in early April and featured a stellar cast plus an orchestra peppered with faculty members. Next fall, the new musical theater degree program will begin formally. Productions for 2022-23 have been announced. They include: “Recent Tragic Events,” Oct. 13-22; “Cabaret,” Nov. 3-12; “Songs for a New World,” Feb. 17-26, 2023; and “Romeo and Juliet,” in April 2023.
Judith Reynolds is an arts journalist and member of the American Theatre Critics Association.