SEMO River Campus to end professional touring shows

Touring acts ending at River Campus

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - Big changes to the performance line-up are coming to River Campus in Cape Girardeau next semester.

After 12 years of bringing in professional shows, the Holland College of Arts and Media at Southeast Missouri State University is closing the curtain on its touring series, while also providing new opportunities to push more students into the spotlight.

University staff say the decision was motivated by constraints to the school’s budget while also seeing a need to expand performance opportunities for students who study music, theater and dance.

Theater major Justin Panacchia says he is sad the touring series is going away because it provided an affordable opportunity for him to see a show in his own backyard.

“I saw Evita here and I loved it. I’ve never seen Evita before. I’ve never really had an opportunity," Panacchia said. “It’s really not that easy to drive two hours to go to the city and watch a show for $80. Here we get a student discount on it so it’s about $24, and it’s a lot more reasonable.”

Bob Cerchio is the Assistant Director of the Arts College.

He says they're ending the touring series is because certain shows sold less than half of the available seats and were substantial financial loss to the university.

“In the United States, you can project that perhaps two percent of your population base is interested in the fine arts,” Cerchio said. “That’s not a lot of people, and this area its not the people that are here it’s just there aren’t enough of them.”

Cerchio tells me enrollment at the fully accredited fine arts school is continuing to grow and the touring series will be replaced by a “Broadway and Symphony Package” for students.

“If you have more students you have to have more performance opportunities," Cerchio said. "This allows us to expand on the scope of the academic productions with larger casts and providing more technical crew positions.”

Students like Panacchia and Freshman Bre Hayes say its exciting, because more shows means more opportunities to get experience.

“I get this fire of motivation, this little spark and I’m just ready to keep going rather than just being sad about not being cast,” Panacchia said.

“Having these extra shows come in gives us more options,” Hayes said. “Hearing about this and these next three years that we have all have it gives me like so much hope that I won’t have to worry about my friend who didn’t get cast because this department is so talented.”

The last touring series production at SEMO’s River Campus for the foreseeable future will be “Rent” on Monday May 6th.

Both students we spoke to say they can’t make it because its finals week.

Meantime, It was opening night for Southeast theater students. They debuted Shakespeare’s ‘Othello’ at the River Campus on Wednesday, April 24.

The tragedy tells the story of the downfall of the play's lead character with themes of racism, jealousy and betrayal.

“There's a little bit of nervousness because it's Shakespeare. And a lot of people have their ideas on Shakespeare. I'm hoping that this is one of the shows that opens that door for some people that it's not just boring English classroom thing where you don't want to read it. There's a lot more to it. There's a lot more life to it,” said Justin Panacchia, a Southeast student.

This is the final show of the semester put on by the department of theater and dance.

The students will perform the play again tomorrow, as well as on Friday and Saturday.

Copyright 2019 KFVS. All rights reserved.