Upcoming ‘Echoes of the Cotton Club’ show at WCU

Apr 16, 2014
“Echoes of the Cotton Club” will stage Thursday, April 24, at Western Carolina University. Standing, from left, is the show’s director Steve Carlisle, choreographer Karyn Tomczak, music directors Jon Henson and Bruce Frazier, writer and producer Don Connelly, and Mercedes Ellington. Ellington is president of the Duke Ellington Center for the Arts in New York City and is the granddaughter of music legend Duke Ellington.

CULLOWHEE — The cast, band and dancers from the upcoming production of the “Echoes of the Cotton Club” radio show re-creation at Western Carolina University recently learned that the show has been registered with the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival.

Two regional representatives of KCACTF, an organization committed to identifying and promoting quality in university productions, will attend the “Echoes of the Cotton Club” performance in the John W. Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 24.

The representatives also will meet with the cast to provide feedback and a peer review of the production, and will prepare a written report for the students and production team.

In addition, “Echoes of the Cotton Club” will be eligible for an invitation to a regional Kennedy Center festival to be held next February and may be considered for national awards recognizing outstanding achievement in production, design, direction and performance.

Shows selected from the regional festivals across the country receive an invitation to perform in KCACTF National Festival events in April 2015 in Washington, D.C.

“Echoes” is the sixth in a series of academic-based entertainment projects mounted in collaboration with four departments and three colleges at WCU under the leadership of director Steve Carlisle, retired associate dean of the Honors College.

Each of the shows in the series hearkens back to the golden age of radio, featuring a live orchestra and sound effects, and is performed only once before a live audience.

Carlisle said registration of the production with the KCACTF represents a strong desire of the production team to provide an outstanding learning experience for the students, staff and faculty involved in the production.

“The adjudicators that will attend our performance are experienced theatre professionals who will provide extremely valuable feedback on our production to the students as well as the concept and execution of the designers. It is peer review at its best for all concerned,” said Carlisle.

Connelly said the storyline of “Echoes” is woven around the critical role that radio broadcasts originating in 1927 from the Cotton Club played in changing the musical landscape in America.

The show will feature the Catamount Singers and Electric Soul in addition to the radio cast members. Also, the production will have a special appearance by Mercedes Ellington, president of the Duke Ellington Center for the Arts in New York City and the granddaughter of music legend Duke Ellington.

“Echoes of the Cotton Club” will be performed at 7:30 p.m. April 24 in the Bardo Arts Center. Tickets to the show are $10 and proceeds will fund scholarships in participating academic departments. In the last five years, the group has raised nearly $25,000 for student scholarships.

For more information, contact Connelly at 828-227-3851 or dconnelly@wcu.edu. For tickets, visit the Bardo Arts Center box office in person or online at bardoartscenter.wcu.edu, or call 828-227-2479.


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