The Misericordia Theatre Department will present the “Celebrating the Stars” concert at 7 p.m. Feb. 10, featuring Tony-award winning Off-Broadway musical theatre composer, lyricist and playwright Jason Robert Brown and special guest Broadway singer and actress Nova Y. Payton.
Jeffery Kelly, manager of cultural and theater events at Misericordia, explained that Brown will showcase some of his “mega hit songs” from his musicals, including Songs For a New World, Parade, 13, Bridges of Madison County and The Last Five Years. The event will also feature some of Brown’s stand-alone songs.
“This event will be a little bit of everything, I would say,” Kelly said. “The bulk of the evening will be a concert, but he is a very personable person and he will tell a story throughout the evening and will talk to the audience.”
Payton has performed as Effie in Dream Girls at the Prince Music Theatre Revival in Philadelphia.
After the initial announcement, ticket requests flooded in and a total of 50 tickets were sold in the first few days.
Having this event could develop a cornerstone to the future for the theatre department, according to Kelly.
“We are moving in an exciting direction as an institution. Getting bigger names in our theater can lead to a snowball effect that would only help our event numbers,” Kelly stated.
Alec Aversa, junior math and computer science major and theater assistant, is excited to bring such a big name to a small campus.
“I have heard of him [Brown] and, before looking him up, I clearly knew that he was a professional and would make a big impact,” he said.
Aversa explained the pressure has been building since the event has been scheduled. He said planning for the event is nerve-racking because it is “the first big name coming to Misericordia University.”
Getting involved in the theater community wasn’t immediate for Aversa. The love for being on stage started when his freshman roommate talked about how much fun theater rehearsals were, sparking something in Aversa’s mind. Afterward, Aversa tried out for the spring semester show Arsenic and Old Lace.
Even though things did not go well with auditions, according to Aversa, he received an email from Kelly, asking if he would become a work-study for the theater department.
“Jeff saw potential in me, and everything has worked up to some crazier things for the future,” he said.
Aversa is not only active with the musicals and plays on campus as a future theater graduate assistant, he is also a ballet dancer for the Joan Harris Dance Centre in Luzerne where he regularly auditions and performs with the centre’s showcases at Dallas High School.
“I love seeing the other side of theatre,” he said. “You just get to look at the arts through a different lens.”
Aversa’s extensive theater and stage experience bring a new appreciation for Jason Robert Brown and the musical pieces he has composed. He hopes students will come out and see this concert as Brown “tells a story with his concerts.”
Along with others in the theater department, Aversa hopes “Celebrating the Stars” concert will inspire other students and faculty to audition for future shows.
“Maybe people will fall in love with the theater program,” Aversa said.
Kelly assures this event will be a great night out and everyone interested should get their tickets while they are still available.
Tickets are free for all Misericordia faculty, staff and students but are limited to two per person. General admission tickets are $25 and premium seating tickets are $30.
To reserve tickets, visit the Misericordia University website at http://www.misericordia.edu/JRB