BY SHRUTI SHANKAR RAM – STAFF WRITER
Performances at the Norton Center for the Arts are always a delight for students to watch, and those lined up for the 2015-2016 year will not disappoint. This year’s series promises to be one of the most diverse arrays of performances yet, with acts ranging from dance troupes to musical acts to a renowned wildlife expert and his exotic animals.
Steven Hoffman, director of the Norton Center, is already looking forward to a year full of great shows. Jim Belushi, a comedian best known for his stints on Saturday Night Live, star of According to Jim and almost one hundred movies, kicks off this year’s series on Sept. 19 with Jim Belushi and the Board of Comedy in partnership with Student Activities Council for Family Weekend.
“We thought this would be a great program for parents and brothers and sisters and grandparents, as well as an enjoyable show for students who don’t have any family coming,” Hoffman said.
Senior and House Manager Dennis Barrett has promised that Hoffman “has, once again, done an amazing job of choosing a variety of performances to keep patrons of all ages and Centre students interested and engaged in what the Norton Center has to offer.”
This year’s musical acts are sure to draw crowds of all ages. Several bands from the 1970s and 1980s will be performing—including perhaps most recognizable act at the Norton Center this year, Foreigner. The British-American rock band is best known for their hit single “I Want to Know What Love Is,” as well as “Juke Box Hero” and “Feels like the First Time.”
Also adding to the old school sound is Greg Allman, one fifth of the Allman Brothers Band, and members of Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) and ELO II.
“I keep hearing Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) songs pop up on commercials on TV,” Hoffman said. “I think the students will recognize some of their songs. It’s very pop, catchy, very familiar.”
Barrett echoes the sentiment that songs may sound familiar even if students do not listen to the band.
“We have a couple of more well-known performances coming to the Norton Center,” he said. “Even if you don’t think you know who they are, I’m sure you’ve heard some of their songs but didn’t even know it was them.”
Musical performances are not restricted to just bands and orchestras this year. The Norton Center features two Broadway musicals, with Ragtime the Musical in Jan. 2016 and 42nd Street in Feb. 2016.
With discussions of race and diversity flooding news outlets daily, Ragtime will prove to be a timely musical for audiences as it chronicles the story of three families living in New York City from different walks of life, races, religions, and immigration statuses. Tensions rise between them as they struggle to pursue the American Dream in the “melting pot” culture of New York City in the early 1900s.
With so many diverse and interesting acts, one would be hard pressed to find a student who isn’t interested in seeing at least one Norton Center performance.
“I am most excited to see Greg Allman,” junior Andrea Marchyn said. “I’m a big fan of The Allman Brothers and I hope they go on tour again!”
Hoffman, on the other hand, is interested in seeing Parsons Dance in October.
“They have a piece called ‘Caught’ and ever since I saw it for the first time, any opportunity I have to see it, I take, and I encourage everyone to go see it,” he said. “It’s an interesting piece where the lead dancer controls the light falling on them, so you only see them when they want to be seen, and it creates a lot of cool effects.”
Meanwhile Barrett’s favorite act is a little more on the mysterious side.
“While I am finishing my coursework in December,” he said, “I may just have to come back to see The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes in the spring.”
However, he adds that Norton Center performances are a good way to branch out and discover acts that are not familiar at all.
“With some of these more well known performances, we also have some that many will not know or have not heard of before,” Barrett said, “but is a great opportunity [for students] to explore something that you otherwise wouldn’t, and for free.”