Stage notes: Guest conductor with Akron Symphony; poignant stories in ‘Love, Loss’

By Kerry Clawson
Beacon Journal staff writer

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Tuesday Musical Association 125 Anniversary celebratory poster designed by the Design For Good Progam at TRIAD Communications, located in Cuyahoga Falls. TRIAD is a full service advertising agency specializing in website design and development serving Akron, Cleveland, and Canton Ohio areas.

Maria Sensi Sellner will make a guest conducting appearance Saturday with the Akron Symphony Orchestra, where she will lead the Akron Symphony Chorus, accompanied by the orchestra, for Poulenc’s Gloria.

Sellner said the piece, which explores a range of emotions and sounds, is near to her heart.

“Since it is a landmark piece in my own musical history, I was so excited when [music director] Christopher Wilkins asked me to conduct it,” she said.

The program of celebratory music also will include Mozart’s Exsultate jubilate, featuring guest soprano Rebekah Camm.

“This piece finds Mozart in a mood of irresistible joy and loving tenderness,” said Wilkins. “It’s a fitting piece for November, a month of feasts, giving thanks, celebration and hope.”

The Akron premiere of James Lee III’s new Sukkot through Orion’s Nebula, co-commissioned by the Akron Symphony through the Sphinx Organization, also will be performed. Lee, who drew upon mystical images from the Old Testament for the piece, will attend the performance.

The concert will be at 8 p.m. at the University of Akron’s E.J. Thomas Hall. A pre-concert lecture will be offered at 7 p.m.

Tickets cost $22 to $52, with a $2 discount for senior citizens. Students pay half price any time, or $7 a half-hour before the concert. Call 330-535-8131 or see

The big one

In other classical music news, Triad Communications in Cuyahoga Falls has chosen Tuesday Musical Association for the agency’s Design 4 Good program, which provides pro bono creative services to nonprofit organizations that make a difference in the community.

This year’s project is a 125th anniversary poster celebrating the arts organization’s milestone year. Triad designed the poster and partnered with 427 Design in downtown Akron to silk-screen the posters, whose final screening process will be done Thursday.

Kudos to Tuesday Musical for 125 years of bringing world-class classical music to Akron audiences.

Girls’ night

Love, Loss and What I Wore provided the perfect night out last weekend at Actors’ Summit, celebrating women, fashion and relationships. The benefit performances featured two casts of women leaders in the Akron community as guest actors, who performed staged readings with Actors’ Summit regulars Shani Ferry, Paula Kline-Messner, Connie Thackaberry and MaryJo Alexander.

The play, written by the late Nora Ephron and her sister, Delia, offered a series of vignettes from comical to heart-rending about milestones in women’s lives, framed by memories of the clothing they wore.

On Saturday, guest actor Mary Ann Jackson took the cake with a tale about what her earthy character wore for a visit with her imprisoned husband — a sort of conjugal visit with a twist. Susan Flowers regaled the audience with a comical tale about the indignities of a bra fitting, and Mary Briggs offered a poignant vignette about the bathrobe a young girl’s deceased mother used to wear.

Other stories came from Sarabeth Emberger, whose character told of the boots she wore when she was raped; Thackaberry, whose story about a mastectomy patient was framed by imagery of a lovely bra; and Ferry, whose character recounted vividly the dress she was wearing at a party the night she discovered her husband cheating.

Director MaryJo Alexander trimmed and rearranged the stories, stemming from a memoir by Illene Beckerman, to create a nice flow for a special evening.

‘Beast’ is back

The original creators of Broadway’s Beauty and the Beast have reunited for the new touring production of the show, which opened Tuesday at PlayhouseSquare’s Palace Theatre. They include director Rob Roth, choreographer Matt West, costume designer Ann Hould-Ward, lighting designer Natasha Katz, scenic designer Stanley Meyer and musical supervisor Michael Kosarin.

“It has been wonderful to bring the entire original design team back together to work on this new production of Beauty and the Beast. As a director, it is rare to have the opportunity to revisit your work 15 years later. Hopefully, I’ve grown and developed as an artist, along with my collaborators, and we can bring 15 years of experience to this new production” by NETworks, Roth said in a statement.

The new set, which Roth said is dominated by transparency and layers, reflects the story’s theme of seeing past the exterior into someone’s heart.

The show, which has played to more than 35 million people in 21 countries, runs through Nov. 18. Cost is $10-$80. Call 216-241-6000 or see

Around town

Here are some more arts events this week and next to check out:

• The University of Akron Theatre Program will present a story of indulgence, insanity and revenge this weekend that allows audience members to partake in the madness.

The Bacchae 2012, based on Charles Mee’s adaptation of the Greek tragedy by Euripides and directed by UA theater professor James Slowiak, invites audience members to sit around a communal table for soup and beverages and a tale of revenge orchestrated by Dionysus, the god of wine.

The show runs at 7:30 tonight through Saturday. Post-show discussions will be led by UA faculty members Cydney Spohn, dance; Donna Webb, art; Pat Hill, communication; Kathy Feltey, sociology; and Bill Lyons, political science. Tickets cost $12; $10 for senior citizens, faculty, staff and alumni; and $6 for students. Call 330-972-7895.

• The University of Akron Dance Company will present its Fall 2012 Dance Concert at 8 p.m. Nov. 15-17 and 2 p.m. Nov. 18 at the Paul A. Daum Theatre in Kolbe Hall, 328 Buchtel Common. The program will include modern dance, classical and neo-classical ballet with dancers en pointe. Choreographers to be highlighted include UA dance faculty members Robin Prichard, Tom Smith, Cydney Spohn and Kara Stewart. Faculty members have also chosen UA student Joy Gross’ work as an outstanding emerging talent from the UA Choreographers’ Workshop.

Cost is $12; $10 for senior citizens, faculty and staff; and $6 for students. Call 330-972-7895.

• Summit Academy of Akron will present a steel band concert with calypso singer Harry Belafonte as special guest at 2 p.m. Nov. 17 at the Akron Civic Theater. Special-needs students with Asperger’s syndrome and ADHD from Summit Academy will perform in the school’s Steel Dragons band. The Archbishop Hoban High School steel drum band, Divine Steel Band of Fairfield and Pan Harmonix of Akron also will perform, as well as guest artist Tracy Thornton.

Cost is $25. See or call 330-253-2488. Read more about the concert in Sunday’s Life section.

I’m just a bill, yes I’m only a bill A timely and entertaining civics lesson will be offered at the Civic with Firestone Theatre’s production of School House Rock Live Jr., which will return for one performance at 2:30 p.m. Nov. 18. Based on the Emmy Award-winning 1970s educational cartoon series, the live show has new teacher Tom using music and imagination to win his students over with tunes such as Conjunction Junction and Lolly Lolly Lolly. Rachel Galambos will direct.

Cost is $8 in advance, $10 the day of show. Children ages 3 to 12 cost $5; 2 and under are free. Call 330-253-2488 or see

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

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