HANCEVILLE, Ala. – Wallace State Fine and Performing Arts on Thursday evening opened “Stars Fell on Alabama,” a joint effort of the community college’s music, dance and theater programs presented in conjunction with the Alabama 200 Bicentennial celebration. The show features original arrangements of songs written by Alabamians or recorded in Alabama, mostly at the famous studios of Muscle Shoals, along with dance and monologues by performing arts students.
The Tribune’s own Bicentennial county series contributor Ben South watched the opening performance with Wallace State dance instructor Brooke Desnoes and her daughter Sidonie, and the two arts aficionados talked afterward about the show.
South: “I see a lot of theater; I go a lot to performances and so on. It made me proud to be an Alabamian! It’s one of my favorite moments of hearing all these songs done in different arrangements. I think a lot of the arrangements were done by Tiffany Richter; she knocked it out of the park!
“It’s so great that they will be taking this performance to Europe, because it’ll present Alabama in a way that Europe hasn’t seen it before. It’s really original, really fresh, totally positive…”
Desnoes: “Exciting, energetic, fun. You really just want to stand up and dance with it!”
South: “Which we did!”
Desnoes: “I think it shows Alabama in multifacets, too, you know. It’s not cliché; you get a little bit of everything. They’re students, but they’re still able to laugh at themselves, and we laughed with them. It’s a nice mix of serious fun.”
South: “I think it’s a great way to remind Europeans that all the great American music has Southern roots: jazz, blues, country, rock, gospel; all of that comes from the south. And these people are taking it to Europe, so it’s a great presentation of Americana, and the best of American music.”
Shows continue on Friday and Saturday evenings at 7 p.m. in the Betty Leeth Haynes Theatre on the campus of Wallace State. Admission is $10, $5 for students.
This summer, “Stars Fell on Alabama” will tour Germany and France.
“It’s me and 70 of my closest friends going to put on a show in Europe! And we’re starting in our sister city of Frankweiler, of course.
“Once again, it’s kind of a unique trip, because the company that we’re working with, they’re not used to a band and vocal thing happening together in a variety show kind of format. So we’re really excited to take this to Europe because, number one, Europeans love to hear American music. They don’t love it as much when we come and try to do European music. They want us to do the music that was made and grown here. So we’re excited about that.
“We’re also excited about taking this group of students because, I think out of 60 or 70 of them, two of them have been to Europe. This is a really big deal for them. We’re going from Germany all the way across France, Strasbourg and Paris, but then we’re going to end up in Normandy and do a memorial recital there. And it ends up being the 75th anniversary of D-Day, so there are a lot of really interesting things that we get to celebrate.”
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