What’s the common thread among Little Orphan Annie, Count Basie and Christmas carols?
They’re all a part of Meridian Community College’s fall 2019 season of the Arts & Letters Series. A community favorite, the Arts & Letters Series has been offering a wide variety of entertainment for decades. This year, the Series is under the leadership of Susan Johnson, director of the Arts & Letters Series.
And, when it comes to quality, budget-friendly entertainment, MCC’s Arts & Letters Series fits the bill. All shows are $10 a ticket.
Kicking off the season will be the production of Annie, Jr., on Nov. 2, at 2 and 6 p.m., in the McCain Theater. Little Orphan Annie has come a long way since she first made her debut as a comic strip in 1924. Since then, she has been reincarnated into a radio show, films, and even a Broadway hit. She’s now making her way to MCC’s stage.
Audiences of all ages will be charmed by the plucky, positive Annie who, despite a next-to-nothing start in 1930s New York City, seeks her parents who abandoned her years ago on the doorstep of an orphanage run by the cruel Miss Hannigan. The young and young-at-heart will cheer as Maybe, Tomorrow, Hard Knock Life, N.Y.C. and You’re Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile sounds throughout the theater.
The sounds of swing and big bands return to the McCain Theater with the MCC Jazz Band, under the direction of Carey Smith, on Nov. 14, at 7 p.m. Guest artist Don Black, a native of York, Ala., will take the spotlight with his jazz saxophone. Black’s extensive experience and versatility have taken him from blues clubs in Mississippi to Carnegie Hall. In addition to his three full-length albums, Black is working on his fourth album. He also plays at Disney World and Universal Studios.
The MCC Jazz band was formed in 1981 when Smith became director of bands. It has been open to MCC students and community members. In 1984, the group was invited to perform at the World’s Fair in New Orleans; in 1991, they were a part of the centennial anniversary of Carnegie Hall, where several bands from around the United States and the Count Basie Orchestra were spotlighted. Since 1982, the group has featured top names in the jazz idiom on most of the concerts.
On the bill will be well-known tunes from the swing and big band era including Perdido, Doin’ Basies’ Thing, Bye Bye Blackbird, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Life of the Party, Designated Swinger and Red Beans and Rice (written for Doc Severinsen and the Tonight Show Band).
More music is on the Arts & Letters Series program as the MCC Gospel Choir, a campus-based organization, presents its fall concert on Sunday, Nov. 17, at 6 p.m. in the McCain Theater. Some of the featured works will include Great Praise, Psalm 23, I Made It Out, My God Fights for Me and Everyday is a Day of Thanksgiving.
With the repertoire of spirituals, anthems, contemporary worship and gospel music, the MCC Gospel Choir gives students an opportunity to share their talents while serving as musical ambassadors for the college on and off-campus. The Rev. Scotty Cole is the director; Deborah Nettles is the faculty advisor.
Ushering in the holidays will be A Christmas Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols presented by MCC’s Music Department. The production begins at 7 p.m. on Dec. 5. This special concert, under the direction of Tammy Miles, choral music director, follows the traditional service of lessons and carols that began in England’s King’s College in 1918. MCC administrative staff members read the lessons while music students sing hymns and other holiday selections. A sampling of the music includes Go Tell It on the Mountain, Mary Did You Know, This Holy Night and Silent Night. In addition to the choral performance, audience members are encouraged to join in singing Adeste Fideles and Joy to the World.
For ticket information for Annie, Jr., call 601-484-8650. For additional information about Arts & Letters Series, call Johnson at 601-484-8678.