Bob Jones University’s 2021–22 Concert, Opera & Drama Series includes several classic University productions and will welcome newcomers to Rodeheaver Auditorium and Founder’s Memorial Amphitorium.
BJU will revisit three of its classic productions: Shakespeare’s comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the tragic opera Samson et Dalila by Camille Saint-Saëns and the 25th anniversary performance of Living Gallery. These productions haven’t appeared on the Rodeheaver stage in over a decade, with the last production of Dream and Living Gallery: Through the Darkest Day script running in 2004.
Season tickets are available at bju.edu/tickets and individual performance tickets will be available August 23.
October 7 (Homecoming): Symphonic Hollywood: The Music of Lee Holdridge
Grammy Award winner Richard Kaufman will join the University Symphony Orchestra and chorus as guest conductor for a concert during Homecoming & Family Weekend. The concert features the work of Lee Holdridge, a composer who has won multiple awards for his work on scores for film and television, including several Emmys and a Grammy.
One of the pieces featured in this concert will be Fantasy Chorale: A Journey of Joy and Hope — a new work composed for the University’s orchestra.
November 15 (SMART), 16–18: A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Dream is Shakespeare’s most magical comedy, with fairies, goblins and a love potion adding magical misdirection to Shakespeare’s usual recipe of comic misunderstandings and mayhem. Rather than following the meet-cute model of many other Shakespearean comedies, Dream features established couples encountering obstacles in their relationships — conflicts introduced and resolved in the city of Athens and its surrounding enchanted forest.
Creative director Jeff Stegall said that the fresh look of the revitalized Dream production will be the work of a creative team of six, including staff, faculty and graduate students. No one person is “trying to create the path for this ship,” he said, “but we’re all speaking into it and letting it sort of organically evolve based on our budget, based on our cast size.”
Stegall has an artistic reputation for creating anachronistic retellings of Shakespeare plays, and while the creative team hasn’t settled on a time period for this new production of Dream, they’ve “made some really exciting progress as far as what excites (them) visually and conceptually.”
December 2–3: Carols and Classics
BJU’s Symphonic Wind Band will perform a Christmas concert featuring familiar holiday favorites as well as a new work composed by composition faculty member Seth Custer.
January 27: Jason Max Ferdinand Singers
Jason Max Ferdinand is a choral conductor and professor teaching and making music at Oakland University in Alabama. Ferdinand recently assembled his own ensemble group, the Jason Max Ferdinand Singers, who began their first tour in 2021. The group gave their premiere performance in London during the VOCES8 Live from London concert, dazzling audiences with breathtaking choral arrangements of familiar Gospel songs, hymns and spirituals.
March 8, 10 and 12: Samson et Dalila
Samson last ran in the spring of 2010 and won second place in the professional category of the National Opera Association’s annual production competition. Darren Lawson directed the last production, which featured breathtaking set design and costume design. He is set to direct the 2022 production.
Saint-Saëns’ original concept for the opera Samson et Dalila was to translate the familiar Bible story into an oratorio much like Handel’s popular Messiah. He later transformed his concept for the piece from oratorio to opera. The project developed slowly, with Samson et Dalila’s premier occurring 25 years after Saint-Saëns first started work on the opera’s concept. His work remains a favorite in opera houses around the world, even in the 21st century.
Among operas, Samson et Dalila has one of the easier plots to follow thanks to the familiarity of its origin story. While the opera introduces characters not included in the biblical account, the core narrative arc remains the same — so it’s no spoiler to tell you that no character makes it out of this opera alive.
April 14–16: Living Gallery: Through the Darkest Day
This year’s Living Gallery is the 25th anniversary performance of this unique theater experience. As an homage to past productions, this year’s performance will use one of the first scripts ever written for a Living Gallery, performed in both 1998 and 2004, as well as many of the familiar stage-sized paintings used in past productions.