AACC promising an eclectic season

The Baltimore Sun

This season, Anne Arundel Community College will continue its tradition of offering performing arts events that range from Broadway musical favorites to dramas to operas sung in English, from orchestral and jazz concerts to classical, jazz and tap dance.

The shows should give students a chance to hone their skills before an audience, while offering a variety of entertainment options at affordable prices at the AACC Pascal Center for the Performing Arts.

, in addition to works by Massenet and Brazilian composer Cesar Carnargo Mariano. The show will benefit the Charlotte Dunham Memorial Scholarship Fund.

The Moonlight Troupers will present Frank Loesser's classic musical, Guys and Dolls, Nov. 8-9 and Nov. 13-16, to be directed by recently retired Performing Arts chairwoman Barbara Marder. She said she plans to bring a cartoon style to the colorful Damon Runyon characters.

From Nov. 21 to Nov. 23, Opera AACC will present Gian Carlo Menotti's The Death of the Bishop of Brindisi and Amahl and the Night Visitors, conducted by Anna Binneweg. Bass Robert Cantrell and soprano Mary Anne Barcellona will be featured, with the All-Children's Chorus of Annapolis.

The AACC Dance Company and Concert Band will offer holiday performances at 8 p.m. Dec. 5-6, and at 3 p.m. Dec. 7.

Binneweg will direct the AACC Orchestra in Dec. 12 concert featuring Brahms Symphony No. 2 and the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No, 1 performed by pianist Pavel Gintov.

Classical music will be on the schedule again Jan. 23-25 and Jan. 30-31, when Opera AACC will present Mozart's The Magic Flute. The opera will be sung in English in an abridged version suitable for the whole family.

The Moonlight Troupers will return March 12-14 with Off-Center IV, their annual series of avant-garde one-act plays.

The acting troupe will turn to Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie April 17-19 and April 23-26,. Director Rob Berry said he plans to bring to life a work that many students know only as literature.

The music faculty will perform April 3, featuring Mary Anne Barcellona and James Harp.

Binneweg will conduct the AACC Orchestra in Beethoven Symphony No. 9 at 8 p.m. May 2 and 6:30 p.m. May 3.

The ACC Dance Company will close the season with Spring Migration May 8 and May 9.

After this season, performing arts offerings will be expanded under the direction of the recently appointed chairman of performing arts, Douglas Byerly, who is considering offering season subscriptions.

"We have the responsibility to program to attract the community," he said. "An educational institution is about innovation, and we have a unique opportunity to do interesting performances. All the elements are in place. Our ballet would be involved. Our theater will challenge audiences with issues to think about. Many four-year colleges don't have the expertise and richness of talent across the board that exists here."

Byerly said he envisions future seasons that might include La Boheme and Rent for interesting comparisons and a creative program of Madama Butterfly and Miss Saigon to assess differences and similarities. He is also looking at big musicals such as Showboat and chamber musicals such as Once on This Island and perhaps a future Brigadoon or Sweeney Todd, he said.

Enthusiasm was high at a recent gathering of what Byerly called his "great team": director of dance Lynda Fitzgerald, who has been with AACC for 20 years; new theater arts faculty member Lars Tatom, an actor and director with a background in Shakespeare; and Rob Berry of the theater arts faculty, who designed the setting and lighting for last fall's Ragtime and directed Twelfth Night in spring 2007. Also on hand was new music faculty member and ethnomusicologist Jonathan McCollum, who Byerly said "will bring new insight to performing arts productions."

Tatom hopes to bring works by Shakespeare into the Moonlight Troupers repertoire, explaining, "No author demands as much as Shakespeare or provides more."

Byerly said the AACC performing arts program draws more than 1,000 students each term to classes and ensembles.

A number of distinguished Moonlight Troupers and AACC Performing Arts alumni are working as actors and directors on local stages and beyond, as illustrated by 27-year-old director Dominic D'Andrea, who in 2005 conducted a series of new works read by established playwrights for the Chesapeake Arts Center and more recently directed plays in New York.

For further information about the AACC Performing Arts season, visit aacc.edu/performing arts or call the box office at 410-777-2457.

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