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Mercyhurst Institute for Arts & Culture announces upcoming season

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Chita Rivera (photo by Daniel Coston)

Mercyhurst University and the Mercyhurst Institute for Arts & Culture are presenting the Erie community with a captivating 2016-17 season to commemorate a milestone — the 20th anniversary of the Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center.

Since April 20, 1996, when the $3.6 million performance venue was dedicated to two of Mercyhurst’s biggest benefactors and advocates of the arts, George and Mary D’Angelo, the miniature “Met” of Erie has hosted more than 100 famous musicians, dancers, puppeteers, choirs and performance artists.

Twenty years later, the university continues its commitment to bringing world-class artists to the Erie region.

“We are delighted that Mercyhurst is able to give the gift of exquisite national and international performances to the Erie area,” said President Michael T. Victor.

The 10-show live series planned for 2016-17 is diverse in performers, in genres, in artistic expression, and in subject matter. “The depth and breadth of programming include the best of Broadway, jazz and children’s theatre, as well as exceptional performances by classical musicians, dance companies and internationally recognized artists,” said director of programming Dr. Brett D. Johnson. The eclectic lineup is sure to appeal to both new and experienced patrons of the arts.

Headlining the 2016-17 season is Broadway legend Chita Rivera. The incomparable Tony Award-winner will recreate signature moments from her legendary career, including numbers from “West Side Story,” “Sweet Charity,” “Chicago,” “Kiss of the Spider Woman,” “Bye Bye Birdie,” “The Rink” and “The Visit.” In addition to a special tribute to her dear friends John Kander & Fred Ebb, the timeless music of Leonard Bernstein, Charles Strouse, Jerry Herman and Stephen Sondheim will also be featured, accompanied by her long-time band conducted by Michael Croiter.

A theatrical icon and one of Broadway's greatest triple-threat talents, Chita Rivera has won two Tony Awards as Best Leading Actress in a Musical and received eight additional nominations. She recently starred in “The Visit” on Broadway following the acclaimed production at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in the summer of 2014. She also starred in the Broadway revival of “The Mystery of Edwin Drood”; the Broadway and touring productions of “The Dancer’s Life,” a dazzling new musical celebrating her spectacular career; and the revival of the Broadway musical “Nine” with Antonio Banderas.

Rivera trained as a ballerina from age 11 before receiving a scholarship to the American School of Ballet from the legendary George Balanchine. Her first appearance, at age 17, was as a principal dancer in “Call Me Madam.” Her electric performance as Anita in the Broadway premiere of “West Side Story” brought her stardom, which she repeated in London. Her career is highlighted by starring roles in “Bye Bye Birdie,” “The Rink” (Tony Award), “Chicago,” “Jerry’s Girls,” “Kiss of the Spider Woman” (Tony Award), and the original Broadway casts of “Guys and Dolls,” “Can-Can,” “Seventh Heaven” and “Mr. Wonderful.”

Rivera was awarded The Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in August 2009, and received the coveted Kennedy Center Honor in Washington, D.C. in December 2002, becoming the first Hispanic woman ever chosen to receive this award.

The MIAC Live season also includes a professional, physically integrated dance company that unites the talents of dancers both with and without disabilities, a folk quartet that specializes in American roots music, a Cirque du Soleil-inspired acrobatic performance, a Baroque orchestra performing a holiday favorite, a popular children’s theatre troupe, a classically trained spiritual ensemble, a Grammy Award-winning jazz prodigy, an internationally acclaimed Irish band, and a groundbreaking solo performer.

For the fourth straight year, the Institute will host an artist-in-residence program. The New England-based folk quartet Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem will spend three days in the Erie community, working with such groups as the Barber National Institute, the ExpERIEnce Children’s Museum and the Mercy Center for the Arts. The residency will culminate in a ticketed performance of “American Spiritual” on the Mercyhurst campus. From prison work songs, blues, gospel and original compositions, “American Spiritual” draws from 200 years of roots music to find songs that uplift and connect.

Returning this season are the National Theatre Live broadcasts, which bring the best of British theatre from the London stage to the Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center, and The Met: Live in HD, a series of simulcasts from New York’s acclaimed Metropolitan Opera.

Audiences can also expect outstanding performances from the university’s academic programs. The Dance Department will present ‘‘Tis the Season’ featuring ‘The Nutcracker Suite,’” “Raw Edges” and “Sleeping Beauty” (Act II) coupled with Balanchine’s “Concerto Barocco”; the Music Department will offer two opera scenes programs featuring excerpts from “Tales of Hoffmann” and “Carmen”; and the Mercyhurst Theatre Program will produce “Dracula,” “The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” “Man of La Mancha” and “The Miss Firecracker Contest.”

“With the MIAC Live series, National Theatre Live, Met Opera broadcasts, and academic offerings, we’re producing more than 40 music, dance and theatre programs this season,” Johnson noted. “The arts are thriving at Mercyhurst.”

The 2016-17 MIAC Live season is sponsored by Cumulus Media, with additional support from LECOM, Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., H. Jack Langer Plumbing & Heating, Cohen & Grigsby, Connoisseur Media, JetTV/Fox66/, WICU-WSEE, The CW, the Erie Reader, WQLN Public Media and Happi 92.7 FM. Additionally, MIAC is supported in part by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Erie Arts & Culture, and the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority (ECGRA).

For more information about the Mercyhurst Institute for Arts & Culture, visit or call the box office at 814-824-3000.



Chita: A Legendary Celebration
Friday, Sept. 16, 7:30 p.m.
Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center

Dancing Wheels Company
Friday, Oct. 7, 7:30 p.m.
Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center

Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem: ‘American Spiritual’
Friday, Oct. 21, 7:30 p.m.
Walker Recital Hall

‘A Simple Space’ by Gravity & Other Myths
Wednesday, Nov. 16, 7:30 p.m.
Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center [onstage seating]

Apollo’s Fire | The Cleveland Baroque Orchestra – Handel’s ‘Messiah’
Jeannette Sorrell, conductor
Thursday, Dec. 15, 7:30 p.m.
Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center

The Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia presents
‘Brown Bear, Brown Bear & Other Treasured Stories’

Saturday, Dec. 17, 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Taylor Little Theatre

American Spiritual Ensemble
Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017, 7:30 p.m.
Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center

Cory Henry & The Funk Apostles
Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017, 7:30 p.m.
Walker Recital Hall

Caladh Nua
Thursday, March 2, 2017, 7:30 p.m.
Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center

Anna Deavere Smith: ‘Reclaiming Grace in the Face of Adversity’
Tuesday, April 11, 2017, 7:30 p.m.
Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center