MSU Riley Center 2016 Spring/Summer Performing Arts Series

MERIDIAN, MS – A farewell to an icon, a hello to some energetic newcomers and lots of heartwarming       rock ’n’ roll memories will highlight the 2016 Spring/Summer Series at the MSU Riley Center in historic downtown Meridian. The MSU Riley Center’s restored Victorian theater will also host the world’s best dancers, one of the most powerful voices in country music, and the returns of both an intimate songwriters showcase and a beloved children’s character.

The series begins on March 10 with a don’t-miss occasion: Legendary contemporary Christian artist Sandi Patty will perform as part of her final major concert tour. Forever Grateful: The Farewell Tour will feature new songs, old favorites and performances by four of Patty’s children.

Next, in April, comes a rousing musical trip back to the Ireland of a century ago. The “Spirit of Freedom” show spotlights a spirited troupe of young singers, dancers, actors and musicians known as Celtic Nights.

Lovers of classic rock can look forward to a feast. Creedence Clearwater Revisited in May, Three Dog Night and Huey Lewis and the News in June, and Little River Band in August will bring back the good times and the great songs of the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s.   Ballet at its absolute best will grace the stage in April. Moscow Festival Ballet, a troupe of top dancers from across Russia, will perform the consummate classical ballet, “The Sleeping Beauty,” with music by Tchaikovsky and original choreography from 1890 – the founding year of the MSU Riley Center’s Grand Opera House theater.    July will bring country superstar LeAnn Rimes, whose rich soprano can belt out defiance or convey aching heartbreak with equal assurance.  The popular Heart Behind the Music songwriters showcase returns to the Riley Center in April with a couple of music-industry veterans as well as some newcomers, including one who is only 14 years old.

And every Riley Center series includes at least one Family Show. This time, Junie B. Jones, the feisty title character of a treasured series of children’s books, will share a musical “survival guide” to school that will leave both kids and parents smiling.

“Putting together an entertainment series for our diverse community always takes a lot of work and planning,” said Dennis Sankovich, executive director of the MSU Riley Center for Education & Performing Arts. “But we start with a big advantage: our gem of a theater. Our audiences delight in the elegant atmosphere and exceptional acoustics, and performers love to come here too, for the same reasons.”

Sankovich cited one other major contributor to the Riley Center’s success: “The continuing sponsorship we receive from The Riley Foundation allows us to bring the very best artists to Meridian. We are deeply grateful for the continuing support of the Foundation.”

The Riley Center offers a range of season-ticket options. Patrons can customize their own packages of shows and receive discounted prices and other perks. If subscribers lose or forget their tickets, the Box Office will issue duplicates on the spot. With a simple phone call, subscribers can also arrange to leave their tickets at the Box Office for friends, family members or clients.

Current season-ticket holders must renew by February 3 to retain the same seats. New season-ticket buyers can purchase full-season packages starting February 8. A smaller “build your own package” option, which includes a discount and early seating, is available starting February 15 for those who wish to purchase tickets to three or more shows. Tickets for individual shows go on sale February 22.

Performances begin at 7:30 p.m. except for Family Shows, which start at 7:00 p.m. Select shows will feature pre-show parties in the Grand Lobby, allowing patrons to socialize and enjoy refreshments as they await the evening’s entertainment.

2016 Spring Summer Performing Arts Series:

World Vision Presents Sandi Patty Forever Grateful Tour

Thursday, March 10, 2016, 7:30 p.m.  | $55, $49

Get your tickets now, because this may be your last chance to see in concert one of the most inspiring singers in contemporary Christian music. Sandi Patty is using her farewell tour to pass the torch to a new generation. Four of her children will perform with her. Patty’s wide-ranging, expressive voice has won her five Grammy Awards and 38 Dove Awards. She promises fresh songs from her new upcoming Forever Grateful album plus “a walk down memory lane” to revisit as many of her past hits as she can squeeze in. She plans to keep singing, but “I just won’t hit the road like in years past.” So take this opportunity to experience her warmth and sincerity up close. You’ll be forever grateful.  For Fans of: Michael W. Smith, Twila Paris, Larnelle Harris

Direct from Ireland Celtic Nights Spirit of Freedom

Friday, April 1, 2016, 7:30 p.m.  | $39, $33

Share a rousing celebration of freedom and Celtic heritage. An energetic young troupe of multitalented singers, dancers, actors, and musicians commemorates the Easter Rising of 1916 that led to Irish independence. Dramatic costumes and sets hark back to the Ireland of a century ago. Music both stirring and plaintive evokes the passion of the rebels and the tragedy of the fallen. A profound story of courage, liberty, and love weaves through this fast-moving production. The triumphant climax will touch your heart even as it inspires you to leap to your feet and applaud.  For Fans of: Riverdance, Celtic Woman, Lord of the Dance

MSU Riley Center Presents the Theatreworks USA Production of Junie B.’s Essential Survival

Guide to School

Wednesday, April 6, 2016, 7:00 p.m.  | $18, $10

Junie B. Jones is the bestest guide ever to carpools, bus rules, and everything else about the educational experience. After all, she’s been going to school for a whole year and a half already. Feisty, grammatically challenged Junie B., the title character of the beloved book series by the late Barbara Park, charms both children and their parents. Theatreworks USA, a New York–based family theater company that has visited the MSU Riley Center several times, has, as usual, created an energetic show. Kids from kindergarten through fifth grade will love the catchy songs and lively humor. For Fans of: the Junie B. Jones books, children’s theater, musicals

A Columbia Artists Production Direct from Moscow, Russia Moscow Festival Ballet The Sleeping Beauty

Thursday, April 21, 2016, 7:30 p.m.  | $39, $33

When Russian dancers perform classic ballets, magic happens. Sergei Radchenko, principal dancer of the Bolshoi Ballet, formed the Moscow Festival Ballet in 1989 to showcase the best performers from across Russia. They bring to the MSU Riley Center perhaps the greatest full-length classical ballet ever, The Sleeping Beauty, with music by Tchaikovsky and the original choreography by the legendary Marius Petipa, from the premiere production in 1890 – the year the MSU Riley Center’s Grand Opera House theater first opened. One of the grandest artistic achievements of the Old World gets a spectacular presentation by virtuosos who intimately know every nuance.      For Fans of: dance, classical music, The Nutcracker

The Heart Behind the Music

John Berry, Will Champlin, Linda Davis, Billy Dean and Special Guest Chloe Channell

Saturday, April 30, 2016, 7:30 p.m.  |  Pre-Show Party  6:00 p.m.  | $39, $33

Heart Behind the Music, the intimate concert series featuring solo musicians taking turns singing and telling stories about their music, returns to the MSU Riley Center. John Berry and his soulful tenor voice first hit the country charts in the 1990s with the plaintive “Your Love Amazes Me.” Will Champlin (son of Heart Behind the Music veteran Bill Champlin) placed third on Season Five of The Voice in 2013. Linda Davis, mother of Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott, sings more delicately than her daughter but just as expressively. Ballad specialist Billy Dean has put more than 20 songs on the Billboard country charts, starting in 1990 with “Only Here for a Little While.” And big-voiced little girl Chloe Channell is, at age 14, already an eight-year concert veteran.   For Fans of: singer-songwriters, acoustic music, stories behind the songs

Creedence Clearwater Revisited

Thursday, May 5, 2016, 7:30 p.m.  |  Pre-Show Party 6:00 p.m.  | $59, $53

Close your eyes, and you might think you’re back in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when Creedence Clearwater Revival reeled off an incredible string of hit songs that pioneered “roots rock” decades before it became cool. Creedence Clearwater Revisited plays them all, including “Travelin’ Band,” “Lookin’ Out My Back Door,” “Green River,” “Bad Moon Rising,” “Fortunate Son,” “Up Around the Bend,” and, of course, “Proud Mary.” Lead vocalist John Tristao sounds eerily like original singer John Fogerty. CCR bassist Stu Cook and drummer Doug Clifford still lay down the rock-solid rhythm that has always contributed so much to the Creedence sound.       For Fans of: John Fogerty, Steve Miller, The Band

Three Dog Night

Thursday, June 16, 2016, 7:30 p.m.  |  Pre-Show Party 6:00 p.m.  | $55, $49

Three Dog Night dominated the charts in the early 1970s, with 21 consecutive Billboard Top 40 hits from 1969 through 1975. Co-founder and co-lead singer Danny Hutton heads the latest lineup, helped by new vocalist David Morgan. Behind them, the rocking band still drives through such classics as “Mama Told Me (Not to Come),” “Joy to the World,” “Black and White,” “Shambala,” and “One” from such great songwriters as Harry Nilsson, Hoyt Axton, Paul Williams, and Randy Newman. You’ll remember every one, even if you’re young enough to have heard them only on classic rock radio.   For Fans of: Blood, Sweat & Tears, America, The Doobie Brothers

Huey Lewis and the News

Tuesday, June 21, 2016, 7:30 p.m.  |  Pre-Show 6:00 p.m.  | $80, $74

Huey Lewis and the News are truly one of America’s great rock and roll bands. As they enter their 37th year together, their contagious brand of music has outlasted countless trends and is as fresh today as ever. Formed from two rival San Francisco Bay area bands in 1979, they continue to thrill audiences worldwide, selling over 20 million albums in the process, earning them the right to mark their place on the pop history map. These Grammy Award winners have written and performed such classic top ten hits as “The Heart of Rock & Roll,” “Stuck With You,” “I Want a New Drug,” “If This Is It”, “Hip to Be Square,” “Do You Believe in Love,” and “Workin’ for a Livin’.” The group also wrote and performed “The Power of Love” and “Back in Time” for the hit film Back to the Future. “The Power of Love," nominated for an Academy Award, went to number one on the Billboard singles chart and was a smash hit worldwide.        For Fans of: Kenny Loggins, John Mellencamp, The J. Geils Band

LeAnn Rimes

Saturday, July 16, 2016, 7:30 p.m.  |  Pre-Show Party 6:00 p.m.  | $65, $59

LeAnn Rimes, a native of Jackson, Mississippi, is one of the world's most successful entertainers, with 44 million albums sold, two Grammy Awards, three Academy of Country Music Awards, and 12 Billboard Music Awards. She had her first national hit at age 13 with the 1996 release of “Blue." Her version of “How Do I Live” is the fourth-longest-charting song in the history of the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and the smash hit “Can’t Fight the Moonlight” topped the charts in 11 countries. She has explored different musical styles, branched out into acting and writing books, and worked on behalf of charities. Now you have a chance to see this accomplished performer command the stage!       For Fans of: Sara Evans, Faith Hill, Wynonna

Little River Band

Saturday, August 6, 2016, 7:30 p.m.  |  Pre-Show Party 6:00 p.m.  | $55, $49

For beautifully crafted pop songs with gorgeous vocals, you can’t beat Little River Band. Boasting a long string of late 1970s–early 1980s hits, including “Reminiscing,” “Lonesome Loser,” “Cool Change,” "Happy Anniversary,” “Help Is on Its Way,” and many more, this Australian import continues to tour and write new songs. The band features a mix of veterans and new members who like to tinker with the arrangements onstage to keep the songs fresh. But those instantly recognizable vocal harmonies sound just as distinctive as always, and just as luscious.     For Fans of: Pablo Cruise, Atlanta Rhythm Section, Firefall

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