Mary Donnelly Haskell, Daughter to Perform at ‘hUManities affair’

Second annual fundraiser set for March 5 at Lyric Theater

Mary Donnelly Haskell (left) and daughter Mary Lane Haskell are coming to the Lyric March 5 in a benefit concert for the UM Department of Music. (Submitted photo)

OXFORD, Miss. – Mother and daughter singer-actresses Mary Donnelly Haskell and Mary Lane Haskell are the featured performers Sunday (March 5) for a University of Mississippi Department of Music fundraiser.

The department’s second annual “hUManities affair” is set for 4:30 p.m. at the Lyric. Tickets are $50 for singles and $75 for couples. All proceeds benefit innovative and educational programs produced by the Living Music Resource.

“This is the first time for LMR to showcase Mary Donnelly and Mary Lane in concert, my first time to perform with them and our first event at the Lyric,” said Nancy Maria Balach, professor of music and event coordinator. “The repertoire includes American standards (popular and jazz songs from the early 20th century).

“The evening will also include Guy Hovis, whom many will remember from ‘The Lawrence Welk Show.'”

For tickets, visit

To date, LMR has brought Grammy Award-winning composers, Broadway performers and Metropolitan Opera artists to Oxford. The Haskells also were featured on an LMR LIVE live-stream interview series Tuesday (Feb. 28) at The Powerhouse.

They are set to lead a “Between the Bar Lines” master class at noon Wednesday (March 1) in the music department’s Choir Room.

“Although I’ve sung in Oxford many times, I’ve never had the opportunity to do a whole concert of songs from the Great American Songbook, or as most people refer to as ‘standards,'” Mary Donnelly Haskell said. “I grew up listening to the music of Rosemary Clooney, Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra, so this is a chance to sing many of my favorite songs.”

Nancy Maria Balach Schuesslin, UM professor of music, will also perform at Sunday’s event at the Lyric. (Submitted photo)

The mother and daughter have performed together in Oxford before, including the successful production of “Hello, Dolly!” and “Sounds of Stage & Screen” concert, both held at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. Still, Sunday’s benefit will be a unique experience for them both.

“Mary Lane and I have chosen songs for the concert that will definitely have this audience humming along,” she said. “We have songs by Gershwin, Cole Porter, Duke Ellington and many more. The hardest thing was narrowing the list down, since we love them all!”

As an UM undergraduate, Mary Donnelly Haskell often performed with the Mississippians Jazz Ensemble.

“It is extra-special that The Mississippians will again collaborate with her on this concert,” Balach said.

Originally from Beaumont, Texas, Mary Donnelly Haskell was crowned Miss Mississippi in 1977 and graduated with distinction from UM in 1981. She has starred in episodes of “Touched By An Angel,” “Seventh Heaven,” “Sisters,” “Diagnosis Murder,” “Days Of Our Lives” and more than 20 movies for television, including two of the Hallmark Channel’s highest-rated Christmas movies: “Once Upon A Christmas” and “Twice Upon A Christmas.”

An accomplished singer, she has performed at venues including the Kennedy Center and the White House. and with the Prague Symphony Orchestra. She is also a popular recording artist, having released four children’s CDs, an adult contemporary album and a collection of sacred hymns and praise songs.

Mary Lane Haskell has performed at Carnegie Hall with Michael Feinstein and Elaine Stritch, serves on the Great American Songbook board and appears regularly on TV series and movies. Most recently, she was featured on NBC as Miss Moody in the Dolly Parton movie “Christmas of Many Colors.”

For more information about the UM Department of Music, go to

Ford Center Hosts ‘Murder on the Nile’ on Valentine’s Day

Production honors Agatha Christie's staging of classic whodunit

Agatha Christie’s ‘Murder on the Nile’ will be performed Feb. 14 at the Ford Center by Aquila Theatre. Photo courtesy Richard Termine

OXFORD, Miss. – An evening of deceit, intrigue and murder is in store for audiences Feb. 14 at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts when Aquila Theatre brings its production of mystery writer Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Nile” to the University of Mississippi.

The 7:30 p.m. performance is Christie’s own staging of her 1937 novel “Death on the Nile.” The story is set on a paddle steamer making its way along the Nile River in 1940s Egypt. When a famous heiress boards the ship, passengers begin a frenzy, which quickly involves treachery, theft and death.

The whodunit tale performed by colorful and mysterious characters in Christie’s signature style add to the drama of the classic novel. Aqulia Theatre, in its 25th anniversary, brings critically acclaimed direction, acting, physicality and design to give life to the story.

“We are happy to again welcome Aquila Theatre to the Ford Center with ‘Murder on the Nile,'” said Kate Meacham, Ford Center marketing director. “It’s such a great opportunity for University of Mississippi students and the Oxford community to experience theater at its finest.”

Tickets, available at the UM Box Office inside the Ford Center, are $22 for balcony seating, $26 for Tier 2 box and Mezzanine seating and $30 for Orchestra/Parterre and Tier 1 box seating. They also can be purchased online at

The play, written by Christie in 1942, was first performed in Dundee in 1944.

“In so many ways ‘Murder on the Nile’ was a product of the darkest days of World War II, a time when the very existence of Britain was under constant threat of a Nazi invasion and German bombers pounded major cities,” Aquila Theatre founder Peter Meineck said. “At that time, Christie lived just outside London and worked at University College Hospital, in the heart of the city.

“Like all Londoners, she would have endured the frightening and almost daily bombing raids on the city during the Blitz. Small wonder a play like ‘Murder on the Nile,’ set in the pre-war years with its colonial travelers sailing away into heat, ancient history and intrigue, would have appealed to people in war-torn Britain.”

Meineck wanted to explore the production of the play from this perspective, while also honoring the performance originally created for the stage, he stated in a director’s note.

“In so doing, I discovered that behind her deft mystery writing lay acute observations of British culture and society and many poignant reflections of Europe in the late 1930s and early 1940s,” he said.

“My aim is that we get to enjoy this brilliant classic murder mystery once again while also being thoroughly entertained in the finest style and traditions that Aquila Theatre has become so well-known for.”

In conjunction with the performance, Aquila Theatre will hold a Physical Theatre Masterclass at 2:30 p.m. Feb. 14 in the Ford Center’s Studio Theatre. The class will focus on movement and vocal exercises for experienced high school and college level performers.

For more information, visit

‘Miracle on 34th Street,’ Santa’s Workshop Among UM Christmas Events

Annual Gingerbread Village also open through Dec. 16 at Ford Center

The UM Museum and the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts will host several upcoming holiday events including the Gingerbread Village and Santa’s Workshop Family Activity Day. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

The UM Museum and the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts will host several upcoming holiday events including the Gingerbread Village and Santa’s Workshop Family Activity Day. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts and the University of Mississippi Museum have a whole bagful of family-friendly activities slated for December to encourage the Oxford and Ole Miss communities to embrace the holiday spirit.

The Ford Center’s seventh annual Gingerbread Village opens Dec. 1 and is free to the public. More than 30 gingerbread houses designed and assembled by local groups, including Holli’s Sweet Tooth, Willie Price Lab School, Yoknapatawpha Arts Council and local Girl Scout troops, will be on display.

The village will be open 1 to 5 p.m. daily and during performances through Dec. 16. A full schedule is available here.

On Saturday (Dec. 3), the Ford Center hosts “Miracle on 34th Street” at 3 p.m. The holiday musical tale by Valentine Davies, based on the 1947 movie, tells the story of Kris Kringle filling in for Santa in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The performance brings the Christmas spirit to life with songs such as “I Believe in Miracles,” “Macy’s Madrigals” and “Just Imagine.”

“The Ford Center is creating a festive mood and offering hot chocolate in concessions for this holiday show,” said Julia Aubrey, Ford Center director.

“Santa’s helpers will be on hand to brighten your afternoon as you enjoy a lovely story and its music. And don’t miss a chance to drop in on the Gingerbread Village before or after the show.”

Tickets are $34 for the balcony level, $40 for the mezzanine and tier 2 boxes, and $46 for the orchestra, parterre and tier 1 boxes. Tickets can be purchased online or at the UM Box Office inside the Ole Miss Student Union. Ole Miss faculty, staff and retirees are eligible for a 10 percent discount. UM student tickets are $20 for orchestra/parterre and $13 for mezzanine/balcony.

Also Saturday, the University Museum is partnering with the Ford Center for its Santa’s Workshop Family Activity Day. Families can bring children to the free drop-in session from 9 a.m. to noon to create seasonal art, eat holiday snacks and visit the Gingerbread Village via sleigh, provided by The Flying Tuks.

“Santa’s Workshop is an event we look forward to each year as we find new ways to connect our collections with the holiday season,” said Emily McCauley, the museum’s curator of education. “Last year we had over 400 in attendance, so this year we are looking forward to engaging audiences in new ways to maximize all areas of the museum building.”

The free event is sponsored by Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi and the Ignite Ole Miss Campaign. No pre-registration is required. For more information, contact the museum at 662-915-7073.

While the village display and Family Activity Day are free, visitors are encouraged to bring nonperishable food items as a donation to benefit the Oxford Food Pantry and the Ole Miss Food Bank.

UM Chorus to Perform ‘Carmina Burana’ at Ford Center

Concert to feature students, faculty, staff and members of local performance groups

The UM Chorus will perform alongside an orchestra composed of Ole Miss students, faculty, and some members of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra on November 14th. Photo by Nathan Latil Ole Miss Communications

The UM Chorus will perform alongside an orchestra composed of Ole Miss students and faculty, plus some members of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra on Nov. 14. Photo by Nathan Latil/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts will host the University of Mississippi Chorus and an orchestra composed of students, faculty and members of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra as they perform works from Carl Orff’s renowned “Carmina Burana” on Nov. 14.

Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. performance range from $19 to $25 and are available at both the UM Box Office in the Student Union and online at

The music of Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana,” is well-known to many concertgoers, most notably the first movement, “O Fortuna,” which can be easily recognized as a staple in many of the commercials and movie soundtracks, including “The Omen.”

“In the recent past, the Ole Miss Choir performed standard works based on sacred texts such as the 2013 performance of Verdi’s ‘Requiem,’ so I thought it would be educational and great fun to perform Orff’s secular ‘Carmina Burana,'” said Don Trott, UM director of choral activities. “We try to give our students at Ole Miss an opportunity to perform a wide variety of repertoire, including large works that utilize full chorus, large orchestra and soloists.”

The UM Chorus includes some 160 singers, all members of the university’s Men’s Glee and Women’s Glee vocal groups.

Soloists for the concert include UM faculty members Nancy Maria Balach, on soprano, and Bradley Robinson, baritone tenor, as well as tenor Brady Bramlett, a graduate student and former Ole Miss Rebels pitcher.

Accompanying the choir is the Oxford Intermediate School Choir, directed by Carol Trott, and the Lafayette Middle School Concert Choir, directed by Hannah Gadd. Together they comprise the youth choir known as Ragazzi.

The performance will be divided into three sections, titled “Springtime,” “In the Tavern” and “The Court of Love.”

“The Ford Center is happy to be able to present such an important work and support the UM Choirs with this production,” says Kate Meacham, Ford Center marketing director. “I think that our patrons will enjoy this performance very much.”

Los Angeles Guitar Quartet to Perform Friday at Ford Center

Acclaimed group set to play diverse set ranging from classical to contemporary works

The Los Angeles Guitar Quartet will perform Friday (Oct. 7) at the UM Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. Photo courtesy Jiro Schneider

The Los Angeles Guitar Quartet will perform Friday (Oct. 7) at the UM Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. Photo courtesy Jiro Schneider

OXFORD, Miss. – The Grammy Award-winning Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, renowned by critics for its precision, rich tonal palette and joyous performances, comes to the University of Mississippi for a Friday (Oct. 7) concert at Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. show are $22 for balcony seating, $26 for mezzanine and tier two box seats and $30 for the orchestra, parterre and tier one box levels. They are available through the Ole Miss Box Office, either online or in person in Ole Miss Student Union.

The group’s four accomplished musicians are John Dearman, Matthew Greif, William Kanengiser and Scott Tennant, each offering a unique stage presence by capturing sounds and style from around the world. The quartet’s works include French Renaissance dances, Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 6, Brazilian favorites and American classics, such as pieces from John Philip Sousa and Miles Davis.

“We are looking forward to having such accomplished musicians at the Ford Center,” said Kate Meacham, the theater’s marketing director. “The performance will include classics by Bach and Debussy, as well as more contemporary pieces by Aaron Copeland and even two composed for L.A. Guitar Quartet.

“It promises to be a truly enjoyable performance. This is a wonderful opportunity for our community to see such a highly acclaimed guitar quartet.”

Dearman, a native of Minneapolis, is a versatile guitarist whose styles range from samba to bluegrass and from flamenco to classical. He is director of the guitar chamber music program at California State University at Northridge in Los Angeles.

Greif, the newest member of the quartet, has a background in guitar styles of classical, jazz, rock and bluegrass, among others. He teaches classical and jazz guitar at California State University at Dominguez Hills in Carson.

Kanengiser is an acclaimed guitar soloist, recording artist and professor at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music. He has won the Concert Artists Guild New York Competition and is best known as the classical guitarist in the 1986 film “Crossroads.”

Tennant is a Detroit native and world-class performer, author and teacher. He has performed concerts since he was 12 years old and is the author of the best-selling book and video “Pumping Nylon,” a technical handbook for classical guitarists. Tennant previously taught at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and is on the faculty at the USC Thornton School of Music.

Concert to Benefit Oxford Boys and Girls Club

Gospel and country artists Michael English and Trae Edwards set for Tuesday show at Ford Center

Michael English

Michael English

OXFORD, Miss. – A benefit concert for the Boys and Girls Clubs of North Mississippi, featuring gospel and country performers Michael English and Trae Edwards, is set for Tuesday (Oct. 4) at the University of Mississippi’s Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. show are $25 through the Ole Miss Box Office. To purchase tickets, call 662-915-7411 or go to

English, well known in the Christian music industry, has won two Gospel Music Association Dove Awards and has had a Top 10 Hit on the Adult Contemporary chart. He has toured and recorded with The Singing Americans, the Happy Goodman Family and the Gaither Vocal Band. He also has recorded several solo albums and scored a major Adult Contemporary single with “Your Love Amazes Me.”

Edwards, an emerging country and gospel performer, has a new song, “Love Got Us Through,” climbing the charts.

“The night will be filled with contemporary as well as traditional hymns, such as Trae Edward’s amazing rendition of ‘The Old Rugged Cross,'” said Margaret King, a representative for the LOU Barksdale Clubhouse and organizer of the fundraiser. “Everyone will walk away blessed and with incredible memories. It will be an awesome experience.”

Trae Edwards

Trae Edwards

The event is co-sponsored by The Inn at Ole Miss, the UM Department of Continuing Education and the Oxford Exchange Club.

“The money that is raised will allow us to help more students,” said Amy Goodin, director of LOU Barksdale Clubhouse. “We currently serve 160 students a day, ranging from ages 6 to 18. The money will go towards more tutors and the supplies we use daily.”

‘Fame – The Musical’ Coming to Ford Center this Week

Production set for one performance Thursday evening

FAME- the Musical National Tour stops in Oxford Thursday night at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

FAME- the Musical National Tour stops in Oxford Thursday night at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

OXFORD, Miss. – “Fame – The Musical” makes a stop at the University of Mississippi’s Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts this week as part of the acclaimed production’s North American tour.

The musical is set for one performance at 7:30 p.m. Thursday (Sept. 29). Tickets, which range from $57 to $69 each, are available at the UM Box Office in the Ole Miss Student Union and online at

Based on the hit movie and Emmy Award-winning television series, the production tells the story of driven high school students admitted to an exclusive performing arts school in New York and their competitive nature as they strive to develop their talents in the industries of music, dance and theater.

The young artists navigate their time through their four years of high school in the 1980s, with all the triumphs and tribulations that accompany them, while captivating audiences with acclaimed choreography and Academy Award-winning music.

“We can’t think of a better way to open the Ford Series than with ‘Fame”; it’s a great story and very entertaining,” said Kate Meacham, Ford Center marketing director. “It should be a very enjoyable evening.”

“Fame” was originally conceived and developed by David De Silva, who has been involved in the creative process for the movie, television series and musical. De Silva was fascinated by a magnet school in New York City, the School for the Performing Arts, and its exclusivity and fostering environment for youth art education.

“This school took these kids out of their neighborhoods to build on their passion for the arts – rich, poor, black, white,” De Silva said. “What makes ‘Fame’ special is its social consciousness in terms of themes.

“There are characters that are funny, but there’s a seriousness to what education is all about. There are lessons to be learned in this story.

Though it began as a movie, De Silva originally envisioned the story as a theatrical production because it is organically musical.

The musical was created in 1988 and has since reached 60 million people in more than 30 countries.

He hopes the Oxford and Ole Miss community attend the performance, not only to see a critically-acclaimed musical but also to enhance their own exposure to the arts.

“Art is a good part of anyone’s education, but when there are budget problems, it’s the first thing to go,” he said. “The beauty of art is that it prepares you for everything. It allows you to build confidence and learn to project your personality.”

Ford Center’s Fall Lineup Filled with Variety

The Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts hosts a variety of shows this fall. Photo by Kevin Bain.

The Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts hosts a variety of shows this fall. Photo by Kevin Bain.

The University of Mississippi’s Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts has a season schedule that does not disappoint, featuring something for everyone, including children’s shows, a critically acclaimed comedian and musical performances.

Here’s a look at what’s coming up this fall:

– “The Emperor’s New Clothes: The Naked Truth Tour” by Lewis Black, 7:30 p.m. Aug. 26 – For the first time ever, the Ford Center will host a comedian. Lewis Black, known as the “King of Rant” for his comedic yelling, will discuss the madness of life, including current events, politics, social media and everything else that irritates him.

Tickets are $50 for the orchestra and orchestra pit level, $40 for the parterre, mezzanine and balcony levels and student tickets are $20, thanks to the Student Activities Association.

– “Fame – The Musical,” national touring production, 7:30 p.m. Sept.29 – This musical, developed from the Academy Award-winning movie and Emmy-winning television series that followed, explores the ups and downs of young artists trying to catch their big break in music, dance and theatre.

Tickets range from $57 to $69.

– Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 7 – This Grammy-winning group is known for is niche in capturing styles of music from around the world. Their variety of works includes everything from French Renaissance dances and Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 to Brazilian favorites and American classics.

Tickets range from $22 to $30.

– “The Princess and the Pea,” Virginia Rep on Tour, 3 p.m. Oct. 8 – The beloved tale by Hans Christian Anderson is brought to life for children and adults alike as this musical tells the story of acceptance, love and true happiness.

Tickets are $14 for adults and $7 for children.

– Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana,” University of Mississippi Choirs with Orchestra, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 14 – This musical collaboration based on medieval Latin poems is one of the best-known cantatas of the 20th century, as it has risen to be as popular among concertgoers as Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. You’ve likely heard the theme “O Fortuna” in countless commercials and movie trailers, but this live combination of musical styles will be a treat for the ears.

Tickets range from $19 to $25.

– “Miracle on 34th Street,” 3 p.m. Dec. 3 – This classic holiday tale is a favorite for the whole family. Based on the 1947 movie, the musical tells the story that begins as Kris Kringle fills in for Santa Claus at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Tickets range from $34 to $46.

Meanwhile, the Ford Center will also host its annual Gingerbread Village from Dec. 1 to 16, so stop by and get lost in a candy wonderland before the show!

Tickets to all events can be purchased online here or at the UM Box Office, inside the Ole Miss Student Union.

For the full lineup of scheduled events, visit

Air Force Band, ‘Peter Rabbit Tales’ at Ford Center this Weekend

Events offer family-friendly entertainment for L-O-U community

The United States Air Force Concert Band and Singing Sergeants will perform at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts Friday, April 15 at 7:30 p.m.

The United States Air Force Concert Band and Singing Sergeants perform Friday night at the Ford Center.

OXFORD, Miss. – The Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts will host two family entertainments events this weekend: the United States Air Force Concert Band and Singing Sergeants on Friday night and “Peter Rabbit Tales” on Saturday.

The USAF Concert Band, stationed in Washington, D.C., is known as the premier symphonic wind ensemble of the Air Force. The band features 53 active-duty airman musicians who perform around the United States on biannual concert tours. Attendees will hear a variety of music, ranging from classical works to popular and patriotic pieces.

The Singing Sergeants, the Air Force’s official chorus, will join the band. These 23 active-duty musicians perform more than 200 times a year, featuring traditional, Americana, modern Broadway and jazz musical styles.

The two groups together honor those who have served, inspire patriotism and work to advance positive diplomatic relations through song.

“It is always an honor to host one of military bands,” said Kate Meacham, Ford Center marketing director. “The musicians are always of the highest caliber, and I know the Air Force Band and the Singing Sergeants will put on a wonderful performance.”

The performance is set for 7:30 p.m. Admission is free, but tickets are required. They are available at the UM Box Office in the Ole Miss Student Union.

The family friendly performance Peter Rabbit Tales will be at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts April 16 at 2 p.m.

The family-friendly performance ‘Peter Rabbit Tales’ comes to the Ford Center on Saturday.

“Peter Rabbit Tales,” performed by the Enchantment Theatre Company, bring Beatrix Potter’s tale to life. The performance follows Peter as he sets off on an adventure to rescue his sister’s babies. The one-hour family performance is recommended for ages 3 to 9 and is sure to captivate the young audiences.

“We are also excited welcome young audiences back to the Ford Center for ‘Peter Rabbit Tales,'” Meacham said. “‘Peter Rabbit’ and all the Beatrix Potter books are such a classic character and story.”

Peter Rabbit’s adventure begins at 2 p.m. Tickets are $12 for adults and $6 for children, and are available at the UM Box Office in the Ole Miss Student Union or online at

Shakespeare’s First and Second Folio on Display at UM

University observes Bard's anniversary with exhibit, major acquisition

The First Folio will be on display at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts April 11 to May 1. In addition, the Second Folio is currently on display at the UM J.D. Williams Library and will be part of the permanent collection.

The First Folio will be on display at the Ford Center through May 1. In addition, the Second Folio is on display at the J.D. Williams Library and is part of the university’s permanent collection.

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi celebrates William Shakespeare this month with exhibitions of two rare books containing some of the first printed copies of the Bard’s best-known works.

The observance kicks off Monday (April 11) with “First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare,” a landmark exhibit at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. The university’s J.D. Williams Library is supplementing this exhibit with the purchase and display of Shakespeare’s Second Folio.

The First Folio is the term scholars use to describe “Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies,” a collection of 36 plays published in 1623. It includes 18 previously unpublished works, including “Macbeth,” “Julius Caesar” and “Twelfth Night.” Only 233 copies of the book are known to exist.

In commemoration of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, the Folger Shakespeare Library is sending a copy of the book for display in each state. The Ford Center is the chosen location for Mississippi.

“We are honored to have been selected to host the First Folio,” said Kate Meacham, Ford Center marketing director. “It’s a great opportunity for students and the community to see a piece of history. We hope as many people as possible see the exhibit and take advantage of all the different ways to learn more about Shakespeare.”

The exhibit begins with an opening reception at 6:30 p.m. Monday, featuring comments by Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter and Owen Williams of the Folger Library. The folio will remain on display through May 1. It is free and open to the public in the Ford Center’s Studio Theatre.

The celebration will include performances and workshops in addition to the exhibit. A full schedule of events can be found here.

“The Folger Shakespeare Library holds the world’s largest Shakespeare collection; it is the ultimate resource for exploring Shakespeare and his world,” Williams said. “We realize, of course, that not everyone can visit us on Capitol Hill and, in the spirit of the Folger itself, we wanted to share an important part of our collection with the country to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.”

Shakespeare’s First Folio was published in 1623. Only 233 copies are known to exist today, and one will be on display at the Getrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts April 11 to May 1.

Shakespeare’s First Folio was published in 1623. Only 233 copies are known to exist, and one of those will be on display at the Ford Center through May 1.

Visitors will see the original 1623 book, opened to the “to be or not to be” speech from “Hamlet.”

“With this as the centerpiece, our host sites across the nation have developed exciting original programming through which we hope that Americans of all ages can engage with Shakespeare, deepen their love of his language and discover how understanding his world helps us understand our own,” Williams said.

Thanks to a gift from the Gertrude C. Ford Foundation, the university also has acquired a rare volume of the Second Folio, making it a permanent part of the university’s collection. It is on display in the Department of Archives and Special Collections in the J.D. Williams Library.

Published in 1632, the Second Folio is an updated version of the First Folio. This rare copy belonged to Edwin Booth, one of history’s most illustrious Shakespearean actors, and the brother of John Wilkes Booth, the man who assassinated President Abraham Lincoln.

Edwin Booth was known for a more textually accurate use of Shakespeare’s works in his theatrical performances, a practice which was unusual for the 19th century. It is likely the actor consulted this volume in preparation for his lauded portrayals of characters such as the tragic Hamlet, historians say.

The Second Folio was purchased from the collections of the New York’s Players Club, a social group for actors founded by Booth, which had engaged the auction house Sotheby’s to negotiate on its behalf. The book, purchased with a $150,000 donation from the Ford Foundation, had an original estimate between $300,000 and $500,000.

The acquisition was completed thanks to the efforts of Rene Pulliam, interim chair of the Department of Theatre Arts; Rhona Justice-Malloy, theatre arts professor; Provost Morris Stocks; and Associate Provost Noel Wilkin, said Jennifer Ford, head of special collections and associate professor.

“This copy of the Second Folio, owned by one of history’s foremost Shakespearean actors, is a tremendous acquisition,” Ford said. “It will be an enduring resource for the entire university, as well as the general public.”

Justice-Malloy notified Pulliam that the copy was going to auction while visiting the Player’s Club in December.

“I am overjoyed that the University of Mississippi will now be a resource for theater researchers nationwide,” Pulliam said. “This fulfills a vision of Dr. Rhona Justice-Malloy and myself.”

Pulliam and Justice-Malloy put together literature and images to begin the fundraising process to purchase the book. In January, Associate Provost Noel Wilkin contacted Pulliam with news that the Ford Foundation would be a major donor and the acquisition would move forward.

“They were excited about the idea of it being at a public institution where someone would really be able to enjoy it,” Justice-Malloy said. “I am so proud to be a faculty member at Ole Miss and know that they value the importance of such a book.”

The folio will be valuable to help recruit students and scholars interested in the arts, history and literature research, Justice-Malloy said.

“It’s a big deal to be able to say we have not only the Second Folio, but Edwin Booth’s copy,” she said. “It will be a point of pride for us and scholars and students can actually use this. I would like to extend an enormous ‘thank you’ to the Ford Foundation for making this possible.”

The First Folio display will be open to the public 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. weekdays through May 1, with varying hours in the evening depending on performances. For a full schedule of events, performances, workshops and master classes, go to

The J.D. Williams Library Second Folio exhibit is open 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Mondays-Wednesdays and 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays. For more information, call 662-915-7091.