Last updated: August 11. 2014 12:45PM - 783 Views
By James Johnson jamesjohnson@civitasmedia.com

Courtesy photo | Area musical theater fanatics and 1980s pop fans alike will have reason to rejoice in November, as the Givens Performing Arts Center gets set to host the touring production of the hit jukebox musical “Mamma Mia!.”
Courtesy photo | Area musical theater fanatics and 1980s pop fans alike will have reason to rejoice in November, as the Givens Performing Arts Center gets set to host the touring production of the hit jukebox musical “Mamma Mia!.”
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PEMBROKE — With five Tony Award nominations, one Grammy nomination and more than 5,000 live performances under its belt, the upcoming performance of “Mamma Mia!” at the Givens Performing Arts Center could be one of the most acclaimed shows to ever come to the venue.

But, according to David Thaggard, assistant director for the center, it is just the tip of an entertaining iceberg.

On Wednesday the Givens Performing Arts Center announced its 2014-15 season, which organizers believe will be among its biggest yet.

The performance venue, located on the campus of The University of North Carolina at Pembroke, has lined up a season consisting of award-winning classics, new productions and some old favorites.

The season opens on Sept. 20 with a production of “Broadway Rox,” a concert tribute to some of the most famous Broadway productions.

“‘Broadway Rox’ is a multimedia musical revue that will feature current and past Broadway actors,” Thaggard said. “This is going to be a very exciting show for theater fans.”

The cast of “Broadway Rox” will be joined by a five-piece band, and will be performing hits from Broadway classics that include “Wicked,” “RENT,” and “Hairspray.”

On Oct. 13, GPAC has invited back The National Acrobats of the People’s Republic of China for a new “cirque-style” show, which Thaggard says will include gravity-defying stunts that the entire family can enjoy.

“We have had them perform here in the past and we had a very good response, so we knew we wanted them back,” Thaggard said.

That won’t be the only show returning to the GPAC stage by popular demand. On Oct. 20, the GPAC will again host a performance of the Tony Award-winning musical “Jekyll & Hyde.”

According to Thaggard, the GPAC had last hosted a production of the show fresh off its Broadway run 10 years ago, and was eager to have another opportunity to bring it back to the community.

The classic story of “Jekyll & Hyde,” which first gained popularity as a 1886 novella titled “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde” by author Robert Louis Stevenson, tells the story of a man driven mad by an unusually extreme case of split-personality disorder.

“We just got lucky that such a dark show happened to get scheduled so close to Halloween,” Thaggard said.

In keeping with the holiday themed productions, on Nov. 21 GPAC is inviting families out to the “American Big Band: Home for the Holidays” show, which will feature an 11-piece big band, singers and dancers, all performing holiday classics.

With the start of the new year, the GPAC will be introducing local audiences to yet another Tony Award-winning show “Million Dollar Quartet” on Jan. 15. The 2010 hit jukebox musical tells the true story of a rare one-day collaboration between legendary artists Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee-Lewis and Carl Perkins.

On March 21, in a program conducted by Grant Lwelellyn, the GPAC will play host to the North Carolina Symphony as it assists in an original production called “Visions from Cape Brenton.”

The production, which will feature Celtic music, will include performances by fiddlers Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy, as well as Celtic dancers.

Thaggard said that the venue is excited to bring F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic literary work “The Great Gatsby” to the stage on April 25. In the production, the audience is introduced to the mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby, who is not everything he seems.

The production is being performed by the Montana Repertory Theatre.

Along with the regular season, this season will feature three bonus events not included in the season subscription package — a performance by the indie rock instrumental duo Threefifty on Sept. 12, UNCP’s homecoming week with comedian Michael Ian Black on Oct. 24, and one of the most acclaimed musicals in Broadway history, “Mamma Mia!,” on Nov. 13.

“It is a very fun show, totally family friendly, and one of the biggest musicals out there,” Thaggard said.

The cult classic musical features music from the Swedish pop group ABBA, and was adapted into a film in 2008 starring Meryl Streep.

“There are groupies who love ‘Mamma Mia!’,” Thaggard said. “They try to attend all the shows. There is this huge ABBA fanbase and those who have never seen the show are going to get a thrill.”

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