Stage notes: Arts education fundraiser showcases students

By Kerry Clawson
Beacon Journal staff writer

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Treviel Cody plays the Emperor in ONeills first play, The Emperor Jones. (Adam Labin/ L Squared photography)

Friends of the Akron School for the Arts, the booster group for the newly named arts program housed at Firestone High School, reports it raised more than $10,000 with Celebration of the Arts III to support arts activities at the school.

The fundraiser was held Friday at the Akron Civic Theatre. Front and center were performances by a number of groups from the Akron School for the Arts, including the a cappella Vocal Jazz ensemble, Madrigal singers, R&R Jazz Combo, the new Fries w/That improv group and contemporary dancers. A trumpeter and Madrigal performer also heralded the program’s upcoming musical Spamalot (March 6-9), and student artwork graced the Civic Theatre lobby.

Formerly called Advocates for the Akron Visual and Performing Arts, the nonprofit Friends of the Akron School for the Arts was founded in 2007 to support the arts magnet program. The nonprofit changed its name when the Akron School Board voted Dec. 10 to change the name of the Visual and Performing Arts Program at Firestone, now called the Akron School for the Arts to better reflect the districtwide nature of the program.

“People thought of it as a Firestone program rather than an Akron Public Schools program,” said Friends of the Akron School for the Arts President George Bozeka. “At least half of the kids in the program are from outside the Firestone cluster.”

Bozeka is the father of VPA grads Chris, a senior in vocal performance at Capital University in Columbus, and Jon, a freshman studying journalism and media communications at Otterbein. Jon starred as Edna in the Akron All-City Musical Hairspray last spring.

“They’re really getting a college-level education in the arts at Firestone,” Bozeka said of the Akron School for the Arts students.

The organization’s fundraising supports guest artists, student travel, master classes and scholarships for continuing education in the arts. On Friday night, Tom and Daralee Ghinder grabbed the winning bid on a Black Keys Experience, which includes a meet and greet with famed Firestone alumni Patrick Carney and Dan Auerbach at their April 30 concert in Pittsburgh. The package went for $1,700.

Symphony concerts

The Akron Symphony Orchestra is hopping this month with nearly back-to-back concerts, starting with Bach’s Brandenburgs at 8 p.m. Saturday at E.J. Thomas Hall. The inspiring Gospel Meets Symphony concert will follow Feb. 23, celebrating its 20th year of bringing together predominantly black singers in the Akron community with the orchestra. More on the upcoming milestone concert will follow in the Feb. 21 Enjoy magazine.

On Saturday, Jeannette Sorrell of Apollo’s Fire will conduct and play harpsichord with the orchestra for the Baroque masterworks Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 in F major and Concerto No. 5 in D major, as well as Handel’s Water Music Suite No. 1 in F major.

Olivier Brault of Apollo’s Fire will be guest violinist. A “Previews from the Podium” pre-concert lecture will be given at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $22-$52. Call 330-535-8131 or 330-972-7570, or see or

Black History Month play

Summit Artspace will celebrate Black History Month with performances of Eugene O’Neill’s The Emperor Jones Friday through Feb. 17 on the second floor, 140 E. Market St., Akron. The play marked black actor Charles Gilpin’s first appearance on Broadway in the 1920s. It premiered with The Providence Players in New York City and launched young O’Neill’s career. It was first adapted as a film in 1933, featuring Paul Robeson.

The story follows Brutus Jones, an African-American who kills a man and escapes from prison to a Caribbean island, where he becomes emperor. The work is controversial for its racist themes and continues to be discussed for its contributions to theater history.

The cast will include University of Akron students and alumni. Cost is $10, $7 for students. Call 330-376-8480 or see The play contains adult content and is not suitable for children under 16.

Arts writer Kerry Clawson may be reached at 330-996-3527 or

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