CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., March 28, 2016 — Arts lovers’ dreams come to life when Southeast Missouri State University’s River Campus transforms a lazy day of summer into grounds sprawling with live music, dance, theatre performances, magic and visual art exhibits for the entire family at the third annual River Campus Summer Arts Festival slated for June 18.
In addition to every inch of the campus buzzing with hands-on activities galore, this year’s festival will feature two free performances of “Honk! Jr.,” based on “The Ugly Duckling” story.
Based on rave reviews from last year’s event, this year’s Summer Arts Festival will see an expanded lineup. Along with three shows, this year’s all-day event will feature additional music performances, creative writing workshops and more hands-on activities across the River Campus’ grounds, theatres, classrooms and creative spaces.
“We did not know what to expect attendance-wise for the first two years,” 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.
Last year’s festival received rave reviews, with more than 2,000 attending the one-day Saturday festival.
“We exceeded our goals and were thrilled with the turnout. Now we have people who come up and ask what we are doing this summer,” Weller-Stilson said. “The community has definitely embraced the River Campus Summer Arts Festival and our summer productions.”
The community festival is free and open to all ages – the young and young at heart — in the entire region. The event is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“The River Campus Summer Arts Festival is another way the city’s investment in the River Campus partnership pays back to the citizens of the city,” said Cape Girardeau City Manager Scott Meyer.
Festival sponsors include 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, KRCU, Cape Girardeau Convention and Visitors Bureau, KBSI, Medicenter Pharmacy, 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, music and theatre and dance. Partners include the Arts Council of Southeast Missouri, Old Town Cape and the United Way.
“Thanks to the generosity of our sponsors, this year we will offer two –morning and afternoon — free admission performances of the musical ‘Honk! Jr.’ This is new to the festival, and we anticipate even more guests this year,” Weller-Stilson said. “It’s truly an all day celebration of the arts – visual and performing.”
In addition to live performances, the event also invites community members to participate in hands-on family-friendly art expression activities, Plein Air painting and an art walk, and to tour exhibits in the Rosemary Berkel and Harry L. Crisp II Museum.
“There is something for everyone of all ages. We encourage families and art lovers to make a day of it,” Weller-Stilson said.
Food prepared by Chartwells will be available for purchase. People may also bring their own food and picnic on the serene grounds overlooking the mighty Mississippi River and the Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge.
“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,” she added. “We are excited to reach out to a diverse population and kids of all ages.”
The “Honk! Jr.” musical by Anthony Drewe will run on the Donald C. Bedell Performance Hall stage at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Both performances are free and open to the public. Ticket purchases are not required. The musical is an adaptation of the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale, “The Ugly Duckling,” which tells the story of a homely bird that blossoms into a beautiful swan.
“What’s even more fun about this offering is that the cast will be 10- to 15-year-old children performing for children. This is the first time we have offered a fully produced show for kids by kids during the festival,” Weller-Stilson said. “We can’t wait to see what they do. There is so much young talent in the area.”
Ticketed performances of “Honk! Jr.” also are scheduled for Friday, June 17, and Sunday, June 19.
Visitors are invited to explore all the festival has to offer. The Department of Art’s studios and the patio on the Mississippi River side of the River Campus will be open for community members to view the work of Southeast’s art students and faculty. Local artist Craig Thomas will again coordinate an art walk competition open to all ages. Artist booths displaying the work of community artists and a kid’s art tent for children to create art will be set-up in the grass.
Dance performances from both University and regional studio members will be held in the Donald C. Bedell Performance Hall. Dance workshops and presentations will run throughout the day in both dance studios.
Students participating in multiple River Campus summer high school camps – the Vocal Arts Boot Camp, Acting Lab Camp, and Percussion and Steel Drum Camp – will present their culminating works during the festival in two vocal recitals in the Robert F. and Gertrude L Shuck Music Recital Hall; multiple percussion concerts in a variety of locations; and two theatre performances in the Wendy Kurka Rust Flexible Theatre.
“To have young adults and children able to participate in the festival for such an affordable fee and get top talent instruction followed by a showcase of their experience in front of their parents and friends is indeed an opportunity that would seldom find its way out of a major metropolitan area,” Meyer said.
The River City Players will perform in the atrium of the Cultural Arts Center. Jerry Ford returns to coordinate the outdoor music stage with a variety of musicians, including the Southeast Missouri Music Academy students, performing a variety of genres, from folk to jazz.
The Rosemary Berkel and Harry L. Crisp II Museum, the River Campus Art Gallery, and the Kenneth and Jeanine Dobbins River Campus Center will be open for visitors to view a variety of exhibits. The University’s mobile museum, the Southeast Explorer, will be on hand and open as well.
Other activities will include face painting, magic performances, a musical instrument petting zoo, storytelling, creative writing workshops and other sponsor booths.
Capping the day’s events June 18 will be a performance of “Steel Magnolias” at 7:30 p.m. in the Wendy Kurka Rust Flexible Theatre. The southern comedy “Steel Magnolias” by Robert Harling, will open Friday, June 17, and will have additional showings on June 22, 23, 26 and 28.
Running alongside “Steel Magnolias” is the musical “Always . . . Patsy Cline” by Ted Swindley. Opening night for “Always . . . Patsy Cline” is Thursday, June 16, with additional performances June 19, 21, 24, 25 and 29.
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 RiverCampusEvents.com.
“Last year’s ‘Seussical’ sold out all 10 performances. We anticipate these three summer shows selling out as well, so I encourage everyone to get their tickets sooner rather than later,” Weller-Stilson said. “There is something for everyone this year.”