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Dr. Brett D. Johnson of the Mercyhurst Theatre Program directs this student production that explores the depths to which humanity can sink and the heights of compassion of which we are capable. This deeply moving play centers on the life of 21-year-old Matthew Shepard of Laramie, Wyo., who was beaten to death because he was gay. The Laramie Project is written by Moisés Kaufman and the members of Tectonic Theater Project. Performance times are Thursday-Saturday, April 24-26, at 8 p.m.; and Sunday, April 27, at 2 p.m. at Taylor Little Theatre. Tickets are $10 for adults, $7 for seniors and students, and $5 for Mercyhurst students and youth (12 and under).

Music Director James Levine conducts Mozart’s beloved opera about testing the ties of love. The cast is filled with youthful Met stars: Susanna Phillips and Isabel Leonard are the sisters Fiordiligi and Dorabella, Matthew Polenzani and Rodion Pogossov are their lovers, with Danielle de Niese as the scheming Despina. See this production live in HD from the Metropolitan Opera on Saturday, April 26, at 12:55 p.m. in the Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $18 for adults, $15 for seniors and students, $10 for youth (12 and under) and $7.50 for Mercyhurst students with ID.

Inspired by the Mercyhurst University academic theme of “Happiness,” the Mercyhurst North East Dance Institute joins the Mercyhurst Ballet Theatre and SoMar Dance works to present “Happiness is an Afternoon of Dance” on Sunday, April 27, at 2 p.m. in the Ridge Library Great Room. This presentation will showcase classical and contemporary dance in a grouping of short selections from each ensemble to music by Philip Glass, Gotye, Gabrielle Roth, Alexander Scriabin and Johann Strauss. Free and open to the public. Reservations are not required.

Ali S. Khan, MD, MPH, director of the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), will discuss his work during a free public lecture at Mercyhurst University on Tuesday, April 29. Khan is among the nation’s most experienced experts for health security and has led responses to numerous high-profile domestic and international public health emergencies, including Ebola hemorrhagic fever, avian influenza, SARS, the Asian tsunami and Hurricane Katrina. His experience also involves global health polio and malaria initiatives, bioterrorism preparedness, anthrax attacks and global infectious diseases. His talk, which begins at 7 p.m. in Taylor Little Theatre, is free and open to the public.

Erie County, Pa., was deeply impacted by the Civil War. An anti-slavery stronghold, the county sent two-thirds of its military-aged men to fight, with more than one thousand never to return. George Deutsch, well-known Civil War historian and frequent lecturer at the Chautauqua Institution, will cover Erie’s contributions to the war effort and examine its demographics, economy and politics on Wednesday, April 30, at 7 p.m. in the Alex Theatre. Free and open to the public. Reservations are not required.

Tom Roberts, editor-at-large for the National Catholic Reporter and author of the forthcoming biography “Sacred Uncertainties: A Journey with Sister Joan Chittister,” will deliver the inaugural Joan D. Chittister Lecture at Mercyhurst University on Wednesday, April 30. The talk begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center and is free and open to the public. The talk is being held in conjunction with the opening of the Helen Boyle Memorial Archive in honor of Joan D. Chittister, OSB.

Mercyhurst University music students in the woodwind ensemble, under the direction of Rebecca Wunch, and the brass ensemble, under the direction of Jay Villella, will perform an evening of delightful chamber music on Wednesday, April 30, at 8 p.m. in the Walker Recital Hall. Free and open to the public.

Interior design seniors Megan Apa, Rebecca Cratty, Lauryn Donikowski and Bradyn Heseltine program exhibit their capstone projects at the Cummings Gallery May 1-18. An artist reception will be held at the gallery on May 1 from 7-9 p.m.

Cummings Gallery

The 2014 Mercyhurst University Literary Festival concludes Thursday, May 1, with an event celebrating the creative work of Mercyhurst students, including release of the award-winning arts magazine Lumen and presentation of student writing awards. The event begins at 8 p.m. in Taylor Little Theatre and is free and open to the public. For more information, contact festival coordinator Dr. Ken Schiff at

The Mercyhurst Dancers and returning alumni celebrate 40 years of dance at Mercyhurst University and 20 years of choreography by artistic director Tauna Hunter and production manager/resident designer Michael Gleason in “Raw Edges: A Celebration of 20/40 Years.” Performances will be held at the Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center on Friday, May 2, at 4:30 p.m. (preview performance; balcony seating only); Saturday, May 3, at 2 and 7 p.m.; and Sunday, May 4, at 2 p.m.