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Class Act Series brings performance art to area students

The Performing Arts Center at Kent State Tuscarawas has quickly become an asset in the region for residents and visitors of all ages.

Kyle Valentini

Since the opening of the Performing Arts Center at Kent State University Tuscarawas, the variety and scale of performances offered to audiences has grown to a level unimaginable just a few years ago. The PAC’s Class Act Series of specially scheduled shows ensures that many of the programs offered are available to area K-12 students at a remarkably reduced rate.

Under the PAC’s Class Act program, students in grades K-12 attend a performance, for which they each pay a $1 admission. The shows are about 40-50 minutes long. Through the program, students have experienced everything from the Moscow Ballet to a performance of “Beauty and the Beast” and interacted on stage with live reptiles. Some of the shows are abbreviated versions of the full performances offered later in the evening; others are especially prepared for the Class Act Series.

Mike Morelli, general manager at the PAC, said that the Class Act program, planned before the doors of the center opened for the first time, was a way to reach out to area students to provide opportunities to enjoy some of the programs offered. “We knew we would be bringing something here that kids would not normally have access to,” Morelli said. “Offering students a special performance at a low rate was the key to making it accessible.”

Four to eight shows a year are now a part of the Class Act Series. “Thousands of students have been able to participate. Educators are very excited about the program,” said Morelli. “I have a collection of wonderful notes and letters from students — some written in crayon — expressing their delight in the shows they’ve seen. We really love getting those and treasure them.” He added that study guides are available for teacher use to take full advantage of the educational opportunities that are a part of the performances.

One of the more popular shows seen by students at the PAC, returning for the 2014-2015 season for grades K-5, is “Rainforest Reptiles,” which brings students on stage to handle the reptilian performers. Also on the slate for the coming season are “The Tempest” (grades 9-12), “The Monster Who Ate My Peas,” “Sid the Science Kid,” “Skippyjon Jones” (grades K-4), “Sid the Science Kid” (grades K-3), and “From New Philadelphia to the North Pole With Ken Waldman” and the “Secret Visitors” (grades 5-8). Area educators can contact the PAC for more information and to schedule attendance. The PAC can accommodate up to 800 students per show.

A grant from the Tuscarawas Valley Heritage Inc., an arm of the Tuscarawas County Convention and Visitors Bureau, helps subsidize the admission fee. The mission of TVH is to help area attractions build their offerings, as well as reach out to area schools for field trips.

“We are absolutely thrilled to have students come to see the shows. We are humbled by the number of students we’ve been able to bring here, and the enjoyment they get from it,” Morelli said.

For more information, contact the PAC at 330-308-6406, or visit www.tusc.kent.edu/pac.

Published: July 10, 2014
New Article ID: 2014707109993