River Campus Announces Summer Arts Festival Dates and Shows

Southeast Missouri State University announces its fourth annual community River Campus Summer Arts Festival to be held June 17.

In addition to the festival, an ambitious summer season of three shows is planned.  Children will delight in seeing “Dear Edwina Jr.,” featuring a 13-year-old girl that gives advice to her friends.  The summer lineup also includes the smash comedy hit musical “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” and the festival southern comedy play “Greater Tuna.”

Last year’s festival received rave reviews, according to festival organizers. More than 3,000 attended the one-day Saturday festival, and audiences enjoyed three full-scale productions. Events scheduled for this year’s June 17 festival include live music, dance, theatrical performances, magic, visual arts displays, hands-on family-friendly art expression activities, museum exhibitions, musical instruments and animal petting zoos, creative writing workshops, an art walk, and other hands-on activities throughout the River Campus.

The community festival is free and open to all ages in the entire region. The event is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is sponsored by Drury Hotels, the Isle Casino Cape Girardeau, US Bank, the Earl and Margie Holland School of Visual and Performing Arts, Southeast Missouri State University, City of Cape Girardeau Parks and Recreation, 573 Magazine, Rust Communications, KGMO, Ameren Missouri, KBSI, KRCU, Cape Girardeau Convention and Visitors Bureau, iluvlocalplaces, Don and Jo Anne Dickerson, Cape Noon Optimist Club, Cape Rotary Club, the Rosemary Berkel and Harry L. Crisp II Museum, and the University’s Departments of Art and Music and The Conservatory of Theatre and Dance.  Partners include the Arts Council of Southeast Missouri, Old Town Cape and the United Way.

“Each year has seen large growth in the numbers of visitors and has exceeded our goals.  The first year had around 1,000 in attendance for the Saturday River Campus Summer Arts Festival.  Last year’s number swelled to more than 3,000. Now we have people who come up and ask what we are doing this summer.  The community has definitely embraced the River Campus Summer Arts Festival and our summer productions,” said Rhonda Weller-Stilson, director of the Earl and Margie Holland School of Visual and Performing Arts and associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts. “Thanks to the continued generosity of our sponsors, this year we will offer two free admission performances of the musical ‘Dear Edwina Jr.’ There will be a morning and an afternoon performance of this production on June 17. It’s truly an all day celebration of the arts – visual and performing.

“There is something for everyone of all ages,” she continued. “We encourage families and art lovers to make a day of it.  Food by Chartwells is available for purchase, and people may bring a picnic. The festival represents our commitment to community outreach, showcases the work of professional artists from our region, and gives the community an opportunity to see what occurs at the River Campus. We are excited to reach out to a diverse population and kids of all ages.”

The “Dear Edwina Jr.” musical with book and lyrics by Marcy Heisler and music by Zina Goldrich will run on the Donald C. Bedell Performance Hall stage at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Both performances will be open to the public and not require ticket purchases. The musical is about a 13-year-old problem solver Edwina.  She dishes out advice with the help of her friends.

“What’s even more fun about this offering is that the cast will be 10- to 15-year-old children performing for children. We’ve had great success with our kids performing for kids during the festival,” said Weller-Stilson. “We can’t wait to see what they do this year.  There is so much young talent in the area.”

“Dear Edwina Jr.” also will have Friday, June 16, and Sunday, June 18, performances requiring tickets.

Capping the day’s events will be a performance of “Greater Tuna” at 7:30 p.m. in the Wendy Kurka Rust Flexible Theatre. The southern comedy “Greater Tuna” by Ed Howard, Joe Sears, and Jaston Williams will open Friday, June 16, and will have multiple performances through Sunday, June 25.

Running alongside “Greater Tuna” is the musical “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”with music and lyrics by William Finn, book by Rachel Sheinkin and conceived by Rebecca Feldman. Opening night for “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” is Thursday, June 15, and will close Wednesday, June 28.

Tickets are on sale now and may be purchased by contacting the River Campus Box Office, located in the Cultural Arts Center, 518 S. Fountain St., weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., by calling (573) 651-2265 or by visiting www.RiverCampusEvents.com.

“Numerous performances sold out last summer,” Weller-Stilson said. “We anticipate these three summer shows selling out as well, so I encourage everyone to get their tickets sooner rather than later. There is a summer of comedy, and there is something for all ages.”