MHS MPAC evolving

MHS MPAC evolving

Venue primed to become entertaiment mecca

Marion School District John Anderson, slated for an intimate acoustic appearance at the Marion Performing Arts Center tonight, may be the first big name to headline at the MSD venue, but MPAC manager and drama teacher Starr Hardgrove sees bigger and better things on the horizon.

“Barrett’s (Baber) show was a success and showed us there is a market for bring artists in on a regular basis,” Hardgrave said.

“We are planning a music series with four artists throughout the year. People will be able to see great entertainment and student performances.”

That’s why First Friday was kicked-off last week with local musician Mickey Littlejohn at the piano.

Hardgrove described the proposed events as a “roadhouse” for entertainers plus “providing for the community and our students.”

He sees Anderson’s concert as a catalyst events that will eventually be of greater benefit to MHS students.

“There are some big names we are kicking around. John will be here Oct. 6 with an all acoustic performance that tells the story of his life,” Hardgrove said. “He has been around forever and a champion of the working class considered the last of the cowboys and is the country/western standard bearer. We believe this will gain momentum and eventually become a scholarship engine for our students.

Hardgrove said similar programs in Russellville, Alma and other school districts around the state have been very successful.

“We will bring in great acts that can become a scholarship engine for our students,” he said.

He added that his aim with the First Friday series is to have great entertainment for the community that can be enjoyed and folks can still be home by 10 p.m., not still at a concert venue at midnight.

First Friday is open to any singer who requests a slot on the schedule.

The first First Friday, held Sept. 2, featured several acts produced and starred MHS students. The evening finale featured West Memphian Mickey Littlejohn on the piano.

“It is open mic and is mainly our students right now,” he said.

Although admission to the events is free, a $5 donation is appreciated.

Concerts are not the only thing Hardgrove has slated for MPAC. His Drama Department students will showcase Willie Wonka Jr.

as their first performance of the school year this fall, describing the play as not as long as Gene Wilder’s movie adaption so all ages can enjoy it.

By Mike Douglas