Exactly five years ago on Oct. 22, 2005, the Fine and Performing Arts Center opened its doors with An Evening With Jay Leno. With big shoes to fill, students, alumni, FAPAC supporters, and local residents all awaited to see just what FAPAC had in store for its fifth year celebration.
Boy, did they fill those shoes. On Friday, Oct. 22, FAPAC held its Gala Event that was wonderful, better yet, it was “S’Wonderful”. The evening began with a cocktail reception outside, underneath a beautifully lit tent on the front lawn. The crowd was dressed to the nines.
Upon arrival, the newest sculpture, dedicated to FAPAC, was displayed at the main entrance of the ticket office. The piece was modern with an earthy feel. During cocktail hour, the FAPAC Museum opened its doors to showcase local artists and their work.
As the guests began to take their seats, a 5-piece band, The Smokey Mountain Brass Band, welcomed them with classic tunes. At 7:30 p.m., Paul Lormand, Director of the Fine and Performing Arts Center, graced the stage to thank many of the founding contributors for their hard work and dedication the past five years. After the thank you concluded, Lormand introduced upcoming shows and the Broadway musical production of “S’Wonderful”.
Nathan Perry, Music Director and Pianist of “S’Wonderful”, approached his seat, which was at the piano on stage. Throughout the show, he did an absolutely beautiful job.
After the show opening song, “S’Wonderful,” Katie Mitchell came on stage. She began the performance by saying she wanted to share so many songs with us, songs of love that inspired a story of love.
The music of the production was written by George and Ira Gershwin.
Each song, there were 42 in all, was presented in a different location, during a different time period, based off a different story.
The first story was set in New York City in 1916. It was about a young man who wanted to fall in love, and become an investigator. During a regular routine day at work, he came across a female, placing a personal ad, which looked a lot like a robber description. The two meet, fall in love, and end up heading to jail together. Throughout this story there were songs like “Boy Wanted,” “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” “Stairway to Paradise,” and “I’ve Got a Crush on You.”
The second story was set in New Orleans in 1957. This story was about a three person group, which starred Katie Reid, Kimberly Thomas and Kevin Metzger, who traveled as they sang. The group quickly went sour when one female and the male fell for each other, leaving the other girl behind. She later turned her act into a one-man-show and sang about what happened to her. The main female, Kimberly Thomas, had an amazingly powerful and extremely soulful voice. She sang songs like, “A Foggy Day,” “The Man I Love,” “There’s A Boat Dat’s Leavin’ Soon for New York,” and “Just another Rumba.” But the song that showcased her beautiful voice was “Summertime.” The audience applauded and cheered, and if they were like me, I’m sure they had chills running down their spines as soon as she finished. It was flawless!
The next story took place in Paris in 1939. The war was about to begin and an American sailor feel in love with a Parisian woman. Not hard to do when one is in the city of love. The songs included, “Love is Here to Stay,” “An American in Paris,” and “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off.” The duets between Tripp Hampton and Katie Mitchell were great, and the dance routines were rather cute.
Following the Paris story, “S’Wonderful” moved to Hollywood in 1948. This one was about a makeup artists dream about becoming the leading lady with one of the “beautiful people.” The songs included, “Funny Face,” “Boy, What Love Has Done to Me,” “Do It Again,” and “Nobody But You.”
The show concluded with Anywhere: Here and Now, which included the whole cast. Tripp Hampton was listening to music on his iPod that was controlling what the other cast members were singing. It was a catchy technique. Songs like, “They Can’t Take That Away From Me,” “Shall We Dance?”, “Somebody From Somewhere,” “Embraceable You,” and “I’ve Got Beginner’s Luck.”
They ended the show with an upbeat and energetic group duet that kept the audience swaying in their seats.
Katie Mitchell ended with “I want to share many songs with you, songs of love that inspired a story of love.”