Musical theatre students and faculty from Western Carolina University’s College of Fine and Performing Arts will perform a star-spangled variety show as part of the Fourth of July celebration at the Roanoke Island Festival Park.
The troupe, known as the Western Carolina University Catamount Starz, will take the park’s stage at 8 p.m. Saturday, July 4, to perform “What a Country: A Celebration of America.” The selection of rock ‘n’ roll, pop, Broadway, patriotic and light classical song and dance is designed to set the mood for a big fireworks extravaganza to immediately follow the show, said Bradley Martin, director of the WCU musical theatre program.
“What better way to celebrate the quintessential American holiday than with a spirited performance of some of the music that helped define a nation,” Martin said. “We’re putting together the musical equivalent of a tasty Fourth of July smorgasbord, with a little something for everyone in a family-friendly show suitable for all ages.”
The eight singers and dancers, who range from a newly minted graduate of WCU’s musical theatre program to an incoming freshman, will be accompanied by a 10-member orchestra composed of WCU music instructors, students and alumni, and other professional musicians.
“This performance at the Roanoke Island Festival Park will enable our students to share their talents with a whole new audience at the other end of the state from our home base in Cullowhee,” said Martin. “We hope this event is just the first step in an ongoing partnership that will provide culture and entertainment to visitors and residents of the Outer Banks while giving our students a real-world experience in musical theatre performance.”
The leader of Western’s musical theatre program is Broadway star and two-time Tony Award nominee Terrence Mann, former actor and director of the outdoor drama “The Lost Colony.” Mann, who holds the Carolyn Plemmons Phillips and Ben R. Phillips Distinguished Professorship in Musical Theatre at WCU, originated several roles on Broadway, including his Tony-nominated turn as the Beast in “Beauty and the Beast,” Rum Tum Tugger in “Cats,” a Tony Award-nominated performance as Inspector Javert in “Les Miserables,” and his portrayal of Chauvelin in “The Scarlett Pimpernel.”
Amy Jones, resident vocal director and choreographer at Flat Rock Playhouse: The State Theatre of North Carolina, will direct and choreograph the Fourth of July show. Based in New York and a theatre instructor at Western Connecticut State University, Jones directed WCU’s “Last Five Years” in January.
“We are pleased to welcome Western Carolina University’s musical theatre program to take part in this annual Fourth of July celebration,” said Kim Sawyer, acting director for Roanoke Island Festival Park. “The July 4 performance brings locals and visitors to the park and to downtown Manteo as we join the nation in this patriotic commemoration. I know that these WCU entertainers will help us continue the tradition of fine performances, and make history as they perform for the first time in Manteo.”
For more information about the park’s Fourth of July activities, call (252) 475-1500 or visit www.roanokeisland.com.