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Local theater season gearing up
Tribute to Erk Russell to kick off shows on August 22
Erk Averitt seasonweb
The late Erk Russell, Georgia Southern's and Statesboro's own legend, is shown after winning his third championship in his final game as head football coach in 1989. A play honoring Russell's life and legacy will open the Averitt Center season on Aug. 22. - photo by Special

            The Emma Kelly Theater is gearing up for its 2008-09 theater season that Averitt Center officials call “designed to please.”

            “We’ve attempted to select a variety of shows that will appeal to just about everyone,” said Connie Hayes, assistant director of the Averitt Center for the Arts.

            The season begins Aug. 22, with a local production, “A Life Done Right: The Living Legacy of Erk Russell.” The play is directed by Georgia Southern professor Rebecca Kennerly.

            Just in time for the football season, the oral-history play about legendary GSU football coach Erk Russell, who led the Eagles to three national championships will bring fond memories to those who followed the Eagles during those formative years. However, anyone who has heard all the stories about Erk and his Eagles will enjoy learning more about the man who had such a powerful impact on Georgia Southern and the surrounding community.

            “This show is completely local,” said Tim Chapman, executive director of the Averitt Center. “Even the script was written in an oral history format by locals who remembered Erk.”

            The Emma Kelly Theater is home to Averitt STARS, Statesboro’s only non-profit community theater.

            “Lots of people in the area enjoy seeing the local talent perform,” said Sarena Carr, box office manager. “The STARS shows are often our best sellers.”

            In addition to “A Life Done Right,” Averitt STARS will produce “Driving Miss Daisy” (Jan. 16-18), the musical “Mame” (Feb. 27-March 1 and March 6-8) and an Agatha Christy Murder mystery —“Appointment with Death” (April 24-26).

            Also, the Statesboro Youth Ballet will produce its annual “Nutcracker Ballet” Nov. 20-23.

            Hayes said the professional touring shows for the 2008-09 season are superb.

“The Performing Arts Committee combed the country to find quality entertainment at affordable prices,” Hayes said.

            On Sept. 14, The Annie Moses Band will perform. This family of young people was trained at the Julliard School of Music and offer a combination of pop and classical music. They offer a little of it all squeezed into one show.

            Two touring shows are scheduled for October. Scott Williams will perform with his hammered dulcimer.

            “It is extremely varied musical production which varies from Celtic to Colonial to Medieval to Renaissance to modern rock music,” Hayes said.

            Just in time for Halloween, the Columbia City Ballet will perform two performances of  “Dracula: Ballet with a Bite.”

            The company also will offer a special Master Class to local ballerinas the day before.

            “This is a wonderful experience for our local youth ballet because they will actually select 40 young dancers to perform with them in the production,” Hayes said.

            “Those who think they don’t care for ballet may just find themselves converted to ballet fans after this treat.”

            Then, on Dec. 12, the Sanders Family, who performed “Smoke on the Mountain” at the Averitt Center in 2005 will return for the sequel, “A Sanders Family Christmas.”

            The new year will bring “Bill Dewey: A Tribute to Johnny Cash” on Jan. 9. Dewey has performed with members of Cash’s band and family.

            Finally, on March 28, the Emma Kelly will present a mixture of local and professional entertainment — “CristoFouri.” The name of the performance is a play on the name of Bartolomeo Cristofori who is credited with inventing the modern day piano.

            The show will present four accomplished pianists: Jerry Roberson, Dr. Michael Braz, Ed Barr and Jerry Gowen performing together on stage.

            People may call the Averitt Center for the Arts, Monday through Friday, from 10 am to 5 pm to order tickets, or they may visit the box office in the theater Tuesday through Friday, from 1 – 5:30 p.m.

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