The Fall Season in the Performing Arts Department begins in November with the lush period costumes and lightning fast wit of Oscar Wilde in The Importance of Being Earnest. So begins a calendar with a nod to the groundbreakers of the past in music and theatre, decidedly fresh takes and new beginnings.
The Importance of Being Earnest, directed by Carrie Ann Quinn, opens November 2 in the University Hall Theatre for seven performances through November 10. With costumes by Rafael Jaen and scenic design by Joe Sheehan ‘18 Quinn’s production of Wilde’s 1895 comedy promises the lavish (and a bit ridiculous) trappings of the upper class behaving badly while tearing away the masks of reality. The University Hall Theatre transforms again with lighting design by Anthony Phelps and arena seating on all four sides of the stage. With the cast set, rehearsals will delve into complex explorations of gender roles, societal expectations and – of course – mastering the British accents that help Wilde’s words pop with comedic timing. Tickets now on sale.
In Music, the UMass Boston Chamber Orchestra will present Audacious. on November 17, with the emphatic period in the title. Conductor Sommer Forrester leads the orchestra, including soloists Kenneth Mok, violin and Reinmar Seidler, cello, on a journey through repertoire that upended contemporary ideas about how the orchestra is conceived. From Rossini’s Overture to Semiramide (1823), to the Brahms’ Double Concerto (1887), to Bates’ electronic infused Mothership (2011), the orchestra will delve into works push artistic boundaries and challenge tradition.
Jazz Night! fills the Recital Hall with kicking vibes for two shows December 8 and 9. Still the “coolest night on campus,” the UMass Boston Jazz Ensembles’ program is fueled by an improvisational spirit that evolves until the moment the show starts, and no two shows are ever exactly alike. Long-time Jazz Director Peter Janson likes it that way, as students bring all their musicianship and personality to interpret classic jazz works in their own ways, as individuals and groups. Spontaneity is the only safe prediction.
Word around the Theatre Arts program is the Holiday Musical Theatre Cabaret, December 6 through 9, may be shaping up to be one part holiday celebration, two parts nostalgic campy fun. Musical Director Todd Gordon and Director/Choreographer Danny Swain are mining not only holiday-themed Broadway shows and wintery standards, but works from the annual onslaught of well-loved television specials for sheet music. Tunes from the old Rankin-Bass stop-motion animation specials, Mr. McGoo’s Christmas Carol, and a Nightmare Before Christmas may just leap from out from our VCR’s to become live-action musical theatre magic. Auditions are November 6 & 7, open to all UMass students.
The UMass Chamber Singers and University Chorus welcome all to the Recital Hall on December 1 for Soli Deo Gloria. Translated from the Latin as “glory to God alone,” a chorus of voices will explore the works of Johann Sebastian Bach and others who composed works to praise God, and not necessarily mankind. From the sublime to the soaring, these works were composed to spur contemplation and prayer as part of the Protestant Reformation, and here Conductor David Giessow combines them with American spiritual and gospel music for an evening of inspiration, contemplation, and the connections of spirituality across cultures and time.
December 13, the last day of classes, the newcomer to the Performing Arts mainstage lineup turns it up to 11, gets down, gets back on up, and just might melt a few faces clean off. Just when you need it most, before the break. PopRocks – four brand-spanking new pop and rock bands born in Dr. Josef Hanson’s Pop-Rock Ensemble class – take the stage for what promises to be an eclectic mix of rock, soul, and pop pulled from anywhere in the rock history catalogue, and a bunch of new numbers that just might add a new, amazing page.