By Ali Richardson, Staff Writer
The Hardin-Simmons University Theatre Department will be having their Starlight Extravaganza on March 21 at 6:30 p.m. This is a fundraiser specifically for their travel programs. The extravaganza is hosted every other year while travel opportunities are offered by the department on alternating years. Individual tickets are $65, or a table can be purchased for $350.
Dr. Victoria Spangler, associate professor of theatre, provided information regarding the trip the theatre department is taking this summer and why the department holds the Starlight Extravaganza.
“On alternating years, we go to Scotland to the Fringe Festival, which is the world’s largest theater festival in Edinburgh, Scotland,” Dr. Spangler said.
The HSU theater department will be performing “This Random World”which they performed in the Fall of 2019. However, any props, lighting or set, is not provided so they are changing it up and creating their own set for traveling across to Edinburgh. They will be performing their show five different times throughout their stay there.
“We are going to be there almost two weeks, it’s fabulous. You get to see everything, plus tour castles and wonderful things like that. There are 3,000 shows, 300 venues and there are over 50,000 performances. It goes on for three weeks, but we are only going for two. People come from all over the world. Some are professional, a lot of solo performers,” Dr. Spangler said.
There are many colleges that go, including some high schools, and other private theatre groups. But figuring out how to get there could pose a problem, this is where Starlight Extravaganza becomes important.
“We don’t have a scholarship travel fund. While we were there asking other colleges how they got there, they would say, ‘our school has a travel extension grant our school can apply for’, or, ‘our students can apply for a travel scholarship.’ Well we wanted to help our students out. But we didn’t want to sell cookie dough. And one of the gals a number of years ago, a student said that there's a place in New York called Starlight Cafe and a lot of actors work there. They sing at your table, and they’re all aspiring actors. But they sing Broadway show tunes and are your waiters. And then we were thinking, ‘oh we can have themed tables’, like a Fiddler on the Roof table, a Sound of Music table, a Beauty and the Beast table and so forth. So, the kids got really excited about it, and picked the themes,” Dr. Spangler said.
“This year’s theme is “Two, Three, Four or More, Broadway’s Best Ensembles,” so there are no solos. They are either duets, trios, quartets or quintets,” Dr. Spangler said. “We want some golden age, golden era and contemporary. We want a variety of styles of musicals and songs.”
Dr. Spangler continued. “Three students are assigned to each table. They’re not in costume, just dressed really nice. They welcome people and they seat them. We have a big opening number, and they bring out the first course. We will have about six other numbers, and then the next course, and another larger number. Not much dance, but there is movement. Then they bring out the main course,” Dr. Spangler said.
Along with some of the other events that the theatre department hosts throughout the year, this gives them yet another chance to perform in a not so traditional setting.
“It’s another opportunity for our students to perform in a different kind of setting. They’re not in a recital. They’re not in a play. The purpose is slightly different. The style of the performance is going to be different,” Dr. Spangler said.
Going on this trip to Scotland is a life changing trip and provides a great opportunity to students to not only travel but learn along the way. “We will have a slideshow beforehand, showing our past trips with some blurbs. Some have never been out of the country, or have never been on a plane,” Dr. Spangler said.
To purchase tickets to the Starlight Extravaganza, you can visit https://www.hsutx.edu/academics/schools-colleges/college-fine-arts/theatre-facilities/ and scroll toward the bottom where it says, “Purchase Theatre Tickets.”