PAO plans 40th Fall Fest celebration

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By Maria Baluch

Suffolk’s Performing Arts Office is busily preparing its 40th annual Fall Fest.

Initially called Spring Fest, it was started 40 years ago by a sociology professor who was looking for a way to build a sense of community and bring everyone together using the arts. Through the years, it has been produced and directed by different departments in the university and was brought to the Performing Arts Office by Chris DeStefano when PAO first began.

This year, the show’s theme is “Celebrating 40 Years in Entertainment.” It is being directed by a Fall Fest alumnus, April Duquette, and comprises a combination of independent acts of any student or group of students who want to showcase their talent. In the past, students have performed a wide variety of acts such as poetry, monologues, cheerleading, guitar playing and even magic tricks.

The other half of the show will feature a variety of musical numbers performed by Suffolk’s Dance Company. Auditions were held in the beginning of the fall semester and 15 students-11 freshmen, two sophomores and two juniors- were selected to work together with a professional choreographer and music director.

“The six numbers we chose to highlight for the year cover style of dances we have done over the previous years,” says Kathy Maloney, Associate Director of the Performing Arts Office.

(Courtesy of PAO Facebook page)

As for the independent acts, auditions will be held Thursday, Oct. 9 at 6 p.m. in Donahue 403. If selected, students will  rehearse on their own and join the rest of the cast for tech and final rehearsals so, “what you see from them is their own artistic creativity,” said Maloney.

In addition to Maloney, Kristen Baker, director of the performing arts office and Vicki Karns, communication and journalism professor, who was a past director and alumni of Fall Fest, also selects the final acts. Maloney says they give students the opportunity to present what they do and also look for a variety of acts among the auditions to make sure the same thing isn’t being performed continuously.

“A lot of the selection has to do with the diversity and how the act fits along with the numbers of the Company and the show itself,” said Maloney.

Because it’s the 40 year anniversary, the PAO has reached out to many alumni, like professor Karns, who acted in previous years to be a part of the show. One of the numbers in the show will be composed of alumni singing on stage and joining the current cast. Freshman Nikki Harper and senior Erica LeBlanc, as well as Student Government Association President Tyler LeBlanc will be hosting the show this year.

“It’s a great celebration of the arts on campus and a great opportunity to see and hear what your fellow students can do because you may not realize that the kid who lives down the hall from you can do four backflips in a row or that there’s a student who can play an ancient Chinese instrument,” said Maloney.

The first Fall Fest performance will be held on Friday, Oct. 24, at the C. Walsh Theatre at 8 p.m. On  Saturday, Oct. 25, the PAO will have a brunch for family and friends of the current and past Fall Fest performers at 11:30 a.m. in the Donahue lounge to celebrate 40 years of the performance. Tickets are free for the entire event and available at the HUB and at the door.

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