2016 Mason Gross Summer Series features free music, dance, and theater

The annual Mason Gross Summer Series is set to kick off in July on Douglass Campus.

The four-event series, a mix of jazz, classical, and world music, musical theater, and contemporary dance takes place July 13, 20, 27, and August 3, 2016, at the Mason Gross Performing Arts Center. All performances begin at 7 p.m., are free, family-friendly, and run just over an hour long.

The series opens Wednesday, July 13, with Broadway Meets Mason Gross: A Journey of Musical Theater. The musical theater revue features selections from the 1947 musical High Button Shoes, set in New Brunswick, and a series of classic Broadway tunes juxtaposed with newer hits. Alums including Deirdre Friel (Leap of Faith – Broadway); Christopher Sears (Stupid F##king Bird – off-Broadway); Collin Kelly-Sordelet (Sting’s The Last Ship – Broadway), and Thomas DellaMonica (Movements of the Soul and Tribes – off-Broadway) will perform.

“Our goal is to make each moment as meaningful and resonant as possible,” says Marshall Jones III, artistic director for Broadway Meets Mason Gross and an alumnus himself, as well as a faculty member in the school’s Theater Department. “You’ll get to see more than just a concert – you’ll get to see a character who sings and hopefully that will move you.”

Associate director Stephen Agosto says theater professionals will chat between songs so that the audience can “hear about how their post-Mason Gross careers have extended into Broadway.”

Mason Gross jazz faculty musicians Kenny Davis, Victor Lewis, and Marc Stasio will perform onstage with the actors.

The remainder of the series is as follows: On Wednesday, July 20, the Mason Gross Jazz Faculty will perform John Coltrane’s Equinox, Sonny Rollins’s Blue 7, and Wayne Shorter’s Witch Hunt, among others. Then Summation Dance Company, a female modern-dance troupe specializing in a bold physical vocabulary, will present on Wednesday, July 27. Finally, the Dalí Quartet will perform Wednesday, August 3, presenting works by Latin American composers. Selections include Efraín Amaya’s Angelica; Beethoven’s String Quartet in G Major, Op. 18, No. 2; Astor Piazzolla’s Four, for Tango; Juan Bautista Plaza’s Fuga Romántica and Fuga Criolla; Joaquín Turina’s La Oración del Torero, Op. 34; and Paquito D’Rivera’s Wapango.

In addition to the four-concert series, Mason Gross will host the Mason Gross Summer Stage concert series, featuring music and dance performances that are free and open to the public. The Eastern Wind Symphony will perform on Wednesday, June 29, at Nicholas Music Center; 10 Hairy Legs, Moe-tion Dance Theater, Connolly & Co., and Ariel Rivka Dance perform in the Dance New Jersey Member Concert on Thursday, July 21, at Victoria J. Mastrobuono Theater; the chamber trio TRIDENT will perform on Sunday, July 24 and 31, in Schare Recital Hall (Marryott Music Building); and the new music string ensemble JACK Quartet will perform on Wednesday, July 27, in Schare Recital Hall. All performances begin at 7 p.m.

“What I ask all artists to do for the Summer Stage concert series is to present performances but also engage the audience to educate them about what is going on,” Christopher Kenniff, artistic director of both series, says. “It breaks down the ‘fourth wall’ between audience members and performers.”

The 2016 Mason Gross Summer Series takes place at the Nicholas Music Center and the Victoria J. Mastrobuono Theater, both part of the Mason Gross Performing Arts Center, 85 George Street (between Route 18 and Ryders Lane), on the Douglass Campus of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, in New Brunswick.

The 2016 Mason Gross Summer Stage concert series takes place at the Nicholas Music Center, the Victoria J. Mastrobuono Theater, and the Marryott Music Building, all part of the Mason Gross Performing Arts Center, 85 George Street (between Route 18 and Ryders Lane), on the Douglass Campus of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, in New Brunswick.

Admission to both concert series is free; no tickets are required.

Wristbands will be distributed upon entry to all free performances in Nicholas Music Center and the Victoria J. Mastrobuono Theater. Limited seating available. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information about the Mason Gross Summer Series and the Summer Stage series, call the Mason Gross Performing Arts Center ticket office at 848-932-7511 or visit www.masongross.rutgers.edu.

Posted June 2016.