The spring semester is a time for looking forward: from spring break, to warmer weather and to longer days.
Not to be overlooked, performing arts venues and groups across campus and downtown are building audience anticipation as they gear up for the semester ahead.
From rap music to ukulele players, The State Theatre , 130 W. College Ave., has a little bit of everything.
Former Penn State football player and performing artist Mike Wallz is set to take the stage for “A Night at the Theatre” on Jan. 18, Richard Biever, executive director of The State Theatre, said.
In addition to local favorites like Wallz, the theater will host several nationally recognized shows. On Feb.8-9, State College Community Theatre will put on a production of “Legally Blonde: The Musical ,” Biever said. From Feb. 14-27, the theater will present “The Last Five Years” , a two-person musical that shows a couple as meeting, falling in love, marrying and divorcing, Biever said.
The man’s side of story is told in chronological order while the female’s perspective is presented in the reverse chronological order, which makes for an interesting show, Biever said.
Changing pace, the theatre will host master ukulele player Jake Shimakuburo on April 24.
“A ukulele is only four strings and two octaves, but what he does with it is really amazing,” said Biever, noting that Shimakuburo does a particularly impressive cover of “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
The Penn State Center for the Performing Arts offers shows that have international and national profiles but in an intimate setting, John Mark Rafacz , editorial director, said.
The two most recognizable shows that the organization will bring to Eisenhower Auditorium this spring are “The Addams Family” and “Hair,” both touring productions of Broadway shows, Rafacz said.
“The Addams Family” will take the stage on Valentine’s Day, although the content might be more appropriate for Halloween, Rafacz said.
On April 12, “Hair” will take audiences back to the 1960s, a time “a lot of today’s college students look back on as a curiosity,” Rafacz said.
On February 7, the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles will present a theatrical version of the popular “It Gets Better ” viral campaign, Rafacz said. The professional tour will incorporate songs and monologues from students.
The CPA will round out its season on April 28 with renowned Canadian baroque opera company Opera Atelier .
“Baroque opera is not something you see everyday, especially not in State College,” Rafacz said. Tickets for all CPA events are on sale at a 20 percent discount through Jan. 14, Rafacz said.
In addition to professional performances, there will be plenty of student productions to see on campus.
The Thespians , a student-run theater organization, has begun preparing for its main stage production, the name of which cannot yet be revealed but will certainly be a highlight of the spring schedule, Sean Meadows , president of Thespians, said.
Thespians, in conjunction with the Glee Club, Oriana Singers and Coda Conduct, will host an FTKabaret in Forum on Jan. 18, Meadows said.
“It’s for a great cause, and it will put everyone who comes in a good mood,” she said.
At the end of March, the group will again focus its efforts on children with an original production of Dr. Seuss’s “The Lorax” at Schlow Centre Region Library .
No Refunds Theater , which offers free student-run productions every weekend in Forum, will stage shows such as “Next to Normal” on March 23-25 and “God of Carnage” on April 11-13, according to the group’s website.
The School of Theatre is preparing a production of Shakespeare’s comedy “Love’s Labour’s Lost” at the Pavilion Theatre on Feb. 12-23, Cheri Sinclair , marketing director for the School of Theatre, said via email.
Celebrating 50 years, The College of Arts and Architecture will stage Leonard Bernstein’s “MASS ” on April 5-6. This funny yet poignant show about faith will feature a cast of over 300, Sinclair said via email.
With professional touring productions, free student shows and everything in between, this semester of performing arts includes options that can appeal to a range of audiences.