Hal Holbrook to Perform ‘Mark Twain Tonight!’ Oct. 7

Actor returning to UM for second time since first performing the long-running play on campus in 1962

Photo courtesy Hal Holbrook

Photo courtesy Hal Holbrook

OXFORD, Miss. – Emmy and Tony Award-winning actor Hal Holbrook will perform his solo show “Mark Twain Tonight!” at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday (Oct. 7) in the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Mississippi.

Holbrook, who created the play, has been performing it every year since 1954, making 2014 the 60th year he’s portrayed the man George Bernard Shaw called “America’s Voltaire.” His first performance of Twain on campus in October 1962 came in the days just after the deadly riots that followed the enrollment of James Meredith as the university’s first black student.

Holbrook, 89, said he’s looking forward to coming back to Ole Miss. He last performed the play here in May 2006.

“It’s important to me,” Holbrook said. “Going there in 1962 with the Army rolling through town and violence in the air and one brave black student named James Meredith facing up to it, was an important moment in my life. I had to bet on what I sensed was waiting, silently, in the Southern mind: the moment to step forward. That night Mark Twain told the truth and they stepped forward and I have never forgotten it. I admired them. Coming back will mean thinking about where we are now.”

The actor will portray the author of “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” and “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” in what is probably the longest running theater performance in American history.

Holbrook’s portrayal of the author has been characterized by the New Yorker as “Uncanny. A dazzling display of virtuosity.” He received a Tony Award for “Mark Twain Tonight!” in 1966, and drew 30 million viewers on CBS television in 1967. He has won five Emmy awards for other roles and was nominated for an Oscar for “Into the Wild.” He has had roles in “Designing Women” and “Evening Shade” and made appearances on many other movies and television shows.

Tickets in the Ford Center’s orchestra pit, orchestra and parterre are $55, mezzanine seats are $50 and balcony tickets are $39. For more information, call 662-915-2787 or email fordcent@olemiss.edu.

Pianist Garrick Ohlsson at Ford Center Sept. 23

Renowned musician's repertoire includes classical and contemporary music

American pianist Garrick Ohlsson plays during rehearsal at Warsaw Philharmonic

American pianist Garrick Ohlsson plays during rehearsal at Warsaw Philharmonic

OXFORD, Miss. – American pianist Garrick Ohlsson is coming to the University of Mississippi Sept. 23 for a concert of classical and contemporary music.

The event begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets are $35.50 for seating in the orchestra and parterre sections and $28 for the mezzanine and balcony. UM Box Office hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays.

“Since his triumph as winner of the 1970 Chopin International Piano Competition, Garrick Ohlsson has established himself worldwide as a musician of magisterial interpretive and technical prowess,” said Kate Meacham, Ford Center marketing director. “Although long regarded as one of the world’s leading exponents of the music of Frédéric Chopin, Mr. Ohlsson commands an enormous repertoire, which ranges over the entire piano literature.”

A student of the late Claudio Arrau, Ohlsson has come to be noted for his masterly performances of the works of Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert, as well as the Romantic repertoire. To date, he has at his command more than 80 concertos, ranging from Haydn and Mozart to works of the 21st century, many commissioned for him.

For more information, visit http://www.fordcenter.org.

Music of the South Concert Series Continues Sept. 17

Cajun French band Feufollet to perform at Ford Center Studio Theater



OXFORD, Miss. – Cajun roots-rock band Feufollet gives listeners a taste of Louisiana Sept. 17 at the Music of the South Concert Series at the University of Mississippi.

The concert is set for 7 p.m. in the Studio Theater of the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. The venue has a capacity of 150 people. Tickets are available for $10 through the UM Box Office, 662-915-7411, and at the door.

Feufollet is a Cajun French band deeply rooted in the Francophone soil of their hometown of Lafayette, Louisiana. They first came together and recorded in 1995, when they were all in their early teens or younger. Though famous for their renditions of heartbreaking songs and rollicking tunes, the group features original songs that draw on deep roots tempered by a cutting edge of contemporary life.

“Three members of Feufollet came to the Music of the South Symposium in 2013,” said Ted Ownby, director of the UM Center for the Study of Southern Culture. “The topic that year was experimentation and innovation, and the band members told some intriguing stories about how, as children, they played music considered traditionally Cajun, and how they have experimented with those traditions while listening to and feeling the influence of all sorts of music. We’re excited to have them performing at the Ford Center.”

The name Feufollet translates to “swamp fire.” Band members Philippe Billeaudeaux, Kelli Jones-Savoy, Chris Stafford, Mike Stafford and Andrew Toups sing and even compose in French, and their music is a blend of modern sounds and ancient styles, mixing zydeco, rock, rhythm and blues, and country.

Billeaudeaux, who plays bass, said he is looking forward the show.

“At the Music of the South Conference last year, we had a great time talking about our musical influences and our creative process, and had the ability to present examples to an interested audience,” he said. “We’re very happy to be asked back, this time with the band.”

The band has been hard at work on its forthcoming album “Two Universes,” which will be its first with new singer-guitarist-fiddler Jones-Savoy and now-full-time keyboardist Toups.

“With the addition to our new members, our sound has helped us move forward,” Billeaudeaux said. “Kelli is rooted in old-time and country music as well as Cajun and Creole, while Toups’ keyboards add new colors to our repertoire.”

Recently, the group won the 2014 Gambit Weekly’s Big Easy Music Award for “Best Cajun Artist.”

The Music of the South Concert Series, which highlights intimate evenings with Southern performers, is a partnership between the Center for the Study of Southern Culture and the Ford Center that began in 2012. Previous performers include Caroline Herring, Randall Bramblett, Valerie June, Blind Boy Paxton and John “JoJo” Hermann.

UM Showcases Creations of Campus Artists

Ford Center gallery features work of 11 faculty members, Meek Hall hosts graduate student art show

UM Ph.D. Student Alona Alexander, a music education major from Madison, looks at the faculty art exhibit at the Ford Center. Photo by Michael Newsom/University Communications

UM doctoral student Alona Alexander, a music education major from Madison, looks at the faculty art exhibit at the Ford Center. Photo by Michael Newsom/University Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi is hosting an art show featuring the work of 11 faculty members in the gallery at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts through Oct. 24.

A reception honoring the artists of the exhibit is scheduled for 5-7 p.m. Oct. 9. There’s no admission fee to view the artwork or attend the reception.

The exhibit offers the public a chance to see paintings, prints and mixed media from the Department of Art’s distinguished faculty, said Virginia Rougon Chavis, associate professor and chair of the art department, who is also one of the featured artists.

“Our faculty members are nationally and internationally recognized for their research,” Rougon Chavis said. “This is a great opportunity for the public to see the work of our faculty from the art department right here on campus. While the Ford Center and the university does a great job at bringing outside artists and performers to campus, we also have some wonderful faculty doing exciting things in the area.”

The exhibit features the work of:

  • Paula Temple, professor emeritus of graphic design
  • Robert Malone, adjunct assistant professor of art
  • Ashley Chavis, adjunct assistant professor of art
  • Virginia Rougon Chavis , chair and associate professor of art
  • Ross Turner, visual resources specialist
  • Carlyle Wolfe, adjunct assistant professor of art
  • Brooke White, associate professor of imaging arts
  • Sheri Rieth, associate professor of art
  • Jere Allen, professor emeritus of painting
  • Amy Evans, adjunct art instructor
  • Jan Murray, associate dean of liberal arts and associate professor of art

Also, Gallery 130 in Meek Hall is showing works created by graduate art students in an exhibit running through Oct. 9. A reception is planned at Meek Hall on the same evening as the Ford Center reception, but it runs 4-6 p.m. to allow visitors to attend both events in one evening.

“The graduate students play an important role in the Department of Art,” Rougon Chavis said. “The work they create is more than the acquisition of knowledge under competent instruction. These students make a contribution to the art world that is of original and independent value.”

Broadway Hit Musical ‘Mamma Mia!’ Comes to the Ford Center

Music of ABBA featured in smash performance that is nearly sold out for Mother's Day

Mama Mia

Mama Mia

OXFORD, Miss. – The Broadway hit that more than 54 million people around the world have fallen in love with is coming to the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Mississippi. “Mamma Mia!” will be performed at 3 p.m. Sunday (May 11).

Limited tickets, priced at $55.50 to $66.50, remain available for the show. For ticket availability, call the UM Box Office at 662-915-7411 or visit http://www.fordcenter.org/.

The performance will close out the Ford Center’s 2013-2014 season, during which it marked 10 years as north Mississippi’s premier performing arts center.

Written by British playwright Catherine Johnson, “Mamma Mia!” follows a daughter’s quest to discover the true identity of her father on the eve of her wedding, which leads to three men from her mother’s past coming back to the Greek island they last visited 20 years ago. Since its London debut in 1999, the show has grossed $2 billion worldwide.

“Mamma Mia!” is based on the songs of ABBA, a Swedish pop-dance group that hit it big worldwide in the 1970s and ’80s to become one of the most popular groups of all time. The quartet’s blend of pop melodies and lavish harmonies helped the group sell more than 400 million records around the world.

The musical includes such hits as “Super Trouper,” “Lay All Your Love on Me,” “Dancing Queen,” “Knowing Me, Knowing You” and “Take a Chance on Me.” A film adaptation starring Meryl Streep was released in July 2008.

UM Students Chosen to Perform with the Best in the Business

Dance and theatre students get opportunity to collaborate with David Dorfman Dance Company

David Dorfman spends time with UM students at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for Performing Arts earlier this semester.

David Dorfman spends time with UM students at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for Performing Arts earlier this semester.

OXFORD, Miss. – A group of 11 University of Mississippi students is set to perform an original 15-minute dance piece as part of David Dorfman Dance Company’s show “Prophets of Funk” at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for Performing Arts.

The collaboration is part of Ford Center’s programs in conjunction with the South’s Arts’ Dance Touring Initiative. The show is at 7 p.m. April 9. Tickets are $33 each and are available by calling the UM Box Office at 662-915-7411 or online. Special pricing is available for UM faculty, staff, students and retirees. Proper ID is required, and the number of discounted tickets is limited.

In January, dancers from David Dorfman Dance spent three days with Ole Miss dance and theatre students. Jennifer Mizenko, UM professor of theatre arts, says she is grateful to Norm Easterbrook, Ford Center director, for writing the grant that allowed this project to happen. The chance to construct choreography that will be incorporated into a professional performance is a first for the students and for Mizenko.

“What is unique about this opportunity is that the work is actually an extension of a piece the David Dorfman Company will be performing, and we will be performing with this professional company at the Ford Center,” Mizenko said. “It is always exciting to have a guest artist come in and set a work on the students, and we are excited for be a part of the whole production process, from rehearsal, to tech to performance in early April.”

The David Dorfman Dance Company was founded in 1985 and has performed in North and South America, Great Britain and Europe, while being based in New York. David Dorfman and the company’s dancers and collaborators have been honored by the National Endowment for the Arts, three New York Foundation for the Arts fellowships, an American Choreographer’s Award, the first Paul Taylor Fellowship from The Yard, and eight New York Dance and Performance (“Bessie”) Awards.

“Prophets of Funk” has been performed 34 times in 24 venues, including The Joyce Theatre in New York, the Lincoln Center Out of Doors festival and a six-night sold-out run at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in Beckett, Mass.

The students are excited by the opportunity to collaborate with a professional dance troupe, said David McKell, a freshman from Starkville who is part of the UM dance company.

“I feel that it is a wonderful opportunity not only to further our skills as dancers, but also to meet some wonderful people who are in the business,” McKell said. “It has been a wonderful learning opportunity. Everybody we met has been very willing to give advice and tell stories, which creates a wonderful atmosphere.”

Hollywood Meets Broadway on the Ford Center Stage

Mary Donnelly Haskell and friends perform an evening of popular songs from movies, musicals for the entire family

Marilu Henner

Marilu Henner

OXFORD, Miss. — Mary Donnelly Haskell and friends, Marilu Henner, Guy Hovis, Mary Lane Haskell and the Mississippi Delta’s Buford Family, come to the University of Mississippi Saturday (April 12) for an evening of beloved songs from Hollywood and Broadway.

“Sounds of Stage and Screen” will be performed at 7 p.m. in the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. A collection of movie and stage memorabilia will be on display in the Ford Center lobby. The memorabilia, including posters and playbills, are on loan from Archives and Special Collections in the J.D. Williams Library.

An accomplished actress and singer, Haskell was most recently seen as Dolly Levi in the successful production of “Hello Dolly!” at the Oxford Shakespeare Festival. She has had numerous appearances in Los Angeles and regional stage productions such as “The Light In The Piazza,” for which she won an LA Theater Critics Award. She is an Ole Miss alumna.

Golden Globe-nominated actress and singer Marilu Henner will accompany Haskell. Henner had a prominent role as Elaine Nardo in the comedy “Taxi.” She has performed with such celebrities as John Travolta in the production of “Grease,” Steve Martin in “L.A. Story” and Burt Reynolds in the comedy “Evening Shade.”

Tupelo native Guy Hovis will also join the cast. Hovis is an Ole Miss alumnus who got his start to fame as one of the featured acts on the syndicated television series “The Lawrence Welk Show.” Hovis was also a guest on the Johnny Cash, Merv Griffin and Mike Douglas programs.

Mary Lane Haskell, daughter of Sam and Mary Donnelly Haskell, is a singer, actor and dancer who is working and living in New York City. She made her solo debut at Carnegie Hall at age 17. In 2011, she was named one of Broadway’s Rising Stars. She is slated to make an appearance on the ABC hit series, “Scandal” Thursday (April 10).

The Mississippi Delta’s Buford Family has performed in countless concerts around Mississippi, including the Bologna Center at Delta State University and 10 sold-out Christmas Concerts at the Alluvian Hotel in Greenwood.

Tickets for “Sounds of Stage and Screen” are on sale at the UM Box Office. Call 662-915-7411 or visit www.fordcenter.org. Discount tickets for students, staff, faculty and retirees are available with valid ID.

Grammy Winner Rosanne Cash Comes to Ford Center

New album, tour promise show-stopping performance from artist whose career spans 35 years

Rosanne Cash

Rosanne Cash

OXFORD, Miss. – The Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts welcomes talented singer-songwriter Rosanne Cash for a 7 p.m. show March 21. Cash will perform a number of hits and selections from her highly-anticipated new album, “The River & the Thread,” her first new collection in more than four years.

“Like nearly everything that we do, sponsoring appearances of performers like Roseanne Cash is a big part of our mission,” said Norman S. Easterbrook, Ford Center director. “She is appearing in major markets with ticket prices more than twice those of the Ford Center. It is a great, affordable opportunity for our community to experience her work and gain a fascinating first-person insight to the great history of country music – a truly American art form.”

Tickets, ranging from $25 to $50, are on sale and available by calling the UM Box Office at 662-915-7411 or online.

Cash, daughter of the legendary music icon Johnny Cash and his first wife, Vivian Liberto Cash Distin, is a versatile artist whose music is based on many genres, including folk, pop, rock and blues. The Memphis, Tenn.-native released her first album, “Right or Wrong,” in 1980. During this time she produced three top 25 singles, “No Memories Hangin’ Around,” “Couldn’t do Nothing Right” and “Take Me, Take Me.”

Among other awards and accolades, Cash has received one Grammy, 12 Grammy nominations, 11 No. 1 Billboard singles, 21 Top 40 country singles and two gold records. Her 2009 album, “The List,” won the Americana Music Award for Best Album of the Year.

“I had the opportunity to see Rosanne Cash a couple of years or so ago when she was getting reacquainted with the South and exploring the influence that living in the South had on her dad’s work,” Easterbrook said. “When we learned that she would be releasing a new album with tunes exploring those influences, we thought that it would be timely to bring her to the Ford Center.”

Peking Acrobats to Defy Gravity at the Ford Center

The contorting, eccentric troupe will be flipping and flying their way to campus March 15


Peking Acrobats

OXFORD, Miss. – As part of their 2014 North American tour, the Peking Acrobats will display their phenomenal acts of strength in an amazing live performance March 15 at the University of Mississippi’s Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

Tickets for the 7 p.m. show range from $28 to $33.50. They are on sale at the UM Box Office in the Student Union or online.

The Peking Acrobats got their debut in 1986 and have since challenged audiences’ perception of Chinese acrobatics.

They are experts in a variety of precarious maneuvers, including tumbling, trick-cycling and gymnastics. Along with expert tumbling abilities, these acrobats defy gravity with their remarkable demonstrations of contortion, flexibility and precision. Skillful Chinese musicians playing traditional Chinese instruments along with special high-tech special effects will accompany the troupe.

During their tour, the Peking Acrobats are playing to sold-out audiences throughout the United States and Canada. The group has performed all over the world and made its Hollywood debut with elite actors including Julia Roberts, George Clooney and Brad Pitt in the motion picture “Oceans 11.”

The troupe also has been featured on talk shows including as “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and “The Wayne Brady Show,” and on NBC’s “Ring in the New Year Holiday Special.”

For more information on this or other performances at the Ford Center, visit http://www.FordCenter.org.

Ford Center Program Puts UM Students Center Stage

Collaboration provides rare mentoring, professional development for dance and theatre students

David Dorfman Dance Company choreographers Kendra Portier and Raja Kelly watch as Ole Miss Dance students rehearse for their part in the upcoming performance of Prophets of Funk.

OXFORD, Miss. – In the world of modern dance, it is not often that students work directly with professional dancers to create choreography. But several University of Mississippi students are doing just that, through a program organized by the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

Through a competitive grant application, the Ford Center was selected to participate in South Arts’ Dance Touring Initiative. Throughout the three-year project, the Ford Center is collaborating with 10 theatres from across the Southeast, but is the only one offering such a unique experience to students.

During January, two dancers from David Dorfman Dance spent three days with UM dance and theatre students creating a 15-minute piece that will be performed April 9 in conjunction with “Prophets of Funk” at the Ford Center.

Jennifer Mizenko, UM professor of theatre arts, says the opportunity to create choreography that will be worked into a professional performance is a real first for her and her students. It is also the first time that Mizenko will perform at the Ford Center.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for our students because they will be a part of the company’s show, and David (Dorfman) is literally including us in the artistic work he has made,” Mizenko said. “It’s an honor, and something that is not typical at all in the industry. We are incredibly grateful to the Ford Center for making this program happen.”

With a shared commitment to community development and mentoring, the program is a natural fit for the Ford Center and David Dorfman Dance.

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