The Gertrude C. Ford Center has announced brand new shows that are taking the stage for the first time in Ford Center history this year.
“The Sound of Music,” “Cinderella,” “Considering Matthew Shepard,” Malpaso Dance Company, Jane Austen’s “Sense and Sensibility,” the 20th-anniversary show of “Rent,” and many more are to be expected this upcoming season.
Julia Aubrey, director of the Ford Center and professor of music, travels once a year to the Association of Performing Arts Presenters in New York City and the Performing Arts Exchange, typically located in the South, in preparation for the upcoming season.
“As I’m putting the season together, I’m trying to get a nice mix of things to offer people,” Aubrey said. “Everyone has a different taste in what performing arts they like.”
Other performances such as Nashville Songwriters Night, Russian Folk Instrument Orchestra, Cyrus Chestnut Quartet, Birdland All-Stars: The Art of Jazz, and a collaborative production with the university and the Oxford community called “Amahl and the Night Visitors” and “Händel’s Messiah” will all take place at the Ford Center.
Kate Meacham, marketing director at the Ford Center, describes the APAP and PAC experience like a trade show for performing arts.
“The thing about Broadway is that not everything is on tour that year, so there’s really only 5 to ten shows that are available and appropriate for our venue,” Meacham said. “Either they’re not touring in this area, going to towns this small, or they can’t perform only a single night show.”
Aubrey said she establishes relationships with the agents, and in the beginning, you don’t exactly know what the end product is going to be like.
“Rent” follows seven struggling artists who share the same message of joy and hope in times of trouble.
Meacham said she believes “Rent” is going to be a success and that when it came out about 20 years ago, there was a lot of excitement.
She said that maybe it’s been a while since people have last seen it, or maybe there are people who never got the chance to.
“There are some real universal themes in the show ‘Rent’ like being right out of school and figuring out how you’re going to support yourself,” Meacham said. “All of those things are common, and I think it will resonate and be popular with students as well as other people. “
Rachell Denney, pharmacy major at the University of Mississippi and box office employee at the Ford Center, said she was looking forward to “Cinderella” the most.
“’Cinderella’ is my favorite Disney movie and so I’m pretty excited to see that live,” Denney said. “It seems as though it’s one of our bigger shows, and it’s also a national tour so I’m pretty sure it’s going to be amazing.”
The Ford Center is a non-profit and all proceeds from ticket sales are given back in order to present upcoming shows in the future.
Tickets can only be sold in person at the box office in the Ford Center but will be made to purchase online in the future.
Tickets for students who present their student IDs at the box office pay $25 for orchestra/parterre seating and $17 for mezzanine/balcony seating for the Ford Series shows “Rent,” “Cinderella,” “Sound of Music,” and “Considering Matthew Sheppard.”
“Part of the Ford Center’s mission is to provide students with the opportunity to see these shows at an affordable price,” Meacham said. “We feel like it’s incredibly important for students to see performing arts, and we consider it a part of students’ education.”