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Mercyhurst performing arts season lauded

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Brett Johnson

A Shakespearean classic, a seasonal dance favorite, a Broadway legend: these are among the highlights of the 2016 fall performing arts season at Mercyhurst University.

Broadway legend Chita Rivera kicked off the Mercyhurst Institute for Arts & Culture (MIAC) Live season on September 14 at the Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center.

“Enthusiastic audience members stopped the show with applause again and again as the incomparable Tony Award-winner recreated signature moments from her legendary career, including numbers from West Side Story, Bye Bye Birdie, and Chicago,” recounted MIAC Director Brett D. Johnson, who is marking his inaugural season as director. “At the conclusion of the performance, the audience rose in unison to give Ms. Rivera an overwhelming standing ovation.”

Public interest lawyer Bryan Stevenson, widely acclaimed for challenging racial discrimination in the criminal justice system, spoke to a capacity crowd at the performing arts center on Sept. 13. Although not a MIAC event, Johnson said Stevenson’s public appeal made his visit a major highlight of the fall semester.

More than 850 people attended the Mercyhurst Theatre Program’s fall musical, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, which ran November 3-6 in Taylor Little Theatre, while the dance department’s holiday performance of ‘Tis the Season played to over 1,100 people.

Attendance at the National Theatre Live broadcasts has been “way up,” Johnson said. To date, screenings have included One Man, Two Guvnors; The Audience; A View from the Bridge; Frankenstein; and Hamlet.

In marking his first season, Johnson said, “I want to thank the members of our advisory board, our staff and our patrons for their support and encouragement over the past eight months. We’ve had a very successful fall, and our spring season promises to be just as memorable with a roster of artists that includes internationally acclaimed vocalists The American Spiritual Ensemble, groundbreaking solo performer Anna Deavere Smith, and many more. As we look toward 2017, we continue our commitment to bringing world-class artists to the Erie region at an affordable price.”

To see the remaining events for 2016 and a preview of those scheduled for 2017, please visit the MIAC website.