Smoot Theatre kicks off season

PARKERSBURG – The Smoot Theatre at 213 Fifth St. will kick off the second half of its 2012-2013 season in February.

The Smoot is also continuing its Kids’ Club Series with programs in March and April.

The first show of 2013 will be “Red, Hot and Blue” at 8 p.m. Feb. 22.

Tickets will be $29 for adults and $15 for students high school and younger. More information is available at or by calling 304-422-PLAY (7529).

Based in Branson, the group has been recognized for its costumes, vocals and dance. The show features music from many different eras, from ragtime and Big Band to rock and roll and disco. It features a variety of production numbers and a live band, said Smoot director Felice Jorgeson.

That will be followed in May by the final show of the season in May, when the Smoot will feature The Four Freshmen, with the Smoot House Band, at 8 p.m. May 11.

Tickets will be $29 for adults and $15 for students high school and younger.

The Four Freshmen’s influence on American jazz and pop singing began in 1948 with four students at Butler University in Indianapolis, Ind. Hal Kratzsch, brothers Ross and Don Barbour, and their cousin Bob Flanigan created a brand new vocal sound. Working without written music and choosing notes by ear, they spread their jazz voicing over a wider range than other groups, and they imitated the phrasing and aggressive feel of a big band brass section.

When band leader Stan Kenton heard the group at the Esquire Lounge in Dayton, Ohio, he immediately recognized their potential. At his urging, Capitol Records signed the Four Freshmen in 1950, initiating a string of hits with “It’s A Blue World,” “How Can I Tell Her” and “Day By Day.” The Freshmen have produced over 70 singles and albums.

Wherever The Freshmen went, they won fans and inspired vocal groups. They played nearly every college in the U.S.A., performing in all 50 states and 44 countries from Asia to Europe to Australia. Bob Flanigan retired from performing in 1992, but he continues as the group’s mentor and personal manager.

There have been 22 different line-ups, and the current group consists of Brian Eichenberger, Curtis Calderon, Vince Johnson and Bob Ferreira.

In addition to those adult shows, Jorgeson said there are also two more programs planned in the annual Smoot Kids’ Club Series, both scheduled for this spring.

The Smoot Theatre Kids’ Club is a series of four family events that always take place during the school year. Jorgeson said one of the shows planned for this season was to feature Japanese drums, but due to several scheduling conflicts, that event has been replaced by “Solazo” at 7 p.m. March 8 at the Smoot.

“Solazo” is a group of three musicians who have lived and learned in South American countries.

“These three musicians bring to us, not only all their unusual instruments, but also their cross-cultural understandings and natural affinity with children, as well as adults,” she said.

“Kids’ Club members will receive a study guide in the mail to help prepare their families for this wonderfully unique presentation. The study guide will focus on the countries of Chile, Argentina and Cuba and will zero in on the geography, history, culture and arts of each country,” Jorgeson said.

Kids’ Clubbers already have tickets to the show, while non-members may purchase reserved seats by calling the Smoot at 304-422-PLAY (7529) Tickets are $12 for adults and $7 for children.

The final Kids’ Club production will be the annual visit by the Missoula Children’s Theatre program at the Smoot. This year’s production will be “Blackbeard the Pirate” at 7 p.m. April 6 at the Smoot. Tickets are $9 for adults and $5 for children.

A new production from MCT, “Blackbeard the Pirate” will take the audience on a family-friendly journey to meet some of the most colorful buccaneers of the seventeenth century. The script is very character driven and will re-enforce the values of living a healthy and happy life.

Each year, the play features local children in all of the roles. The local children audition, rehearse and put on the plays themselves with the help of directors, costumes and props provided by MCT.

The audition, rehearsal and performance process runs for one week. The program is open to children from kindergarten through 12th grades.

The Missoula Children’s Theatre is the nation’s largest touring children’s theatre and visits nearly 1,000 communities each year with teams of Tour Actor/Directors. A tour team arrives in a given town with a set, lights, costumes, props and make-up, everything it takes to put on a play except the cast.