Victory Belles will perform hits from the 1940s Nov. 11.
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Victory Belles will perform hits from the 1940s Nov. 11.

COA Community Auditorium cranking up the energy

By Robert Kelly-goss

Albemarle Life Editor

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Just when you thought there might not be enough to do around Elizabeth City, College of the Albemarle’s Community Auditorium released its 2010-2011-season roster, and it’s jam packed with really good entertainment.
In an effort to raise the bar for entertainment not only at the Community Auditorium, but also in Elizabeth City, COA’s events coordinator Rebecca Holleman says she’s been planning a season that she believes will get area folks to stand up and take notice.
“It’s a phenomenal season,” says Holleman.
Holleman began planning for this season of live entertain at the more than 900 seat theater by attending a national conference showcasing known and up and coming musical and variety acts. She has also taken a cue from area residents who’ve requested she book specific acts.
Holleman says she reviewed the past several years of show offerings at the theater and determined that while there were some good shows, nothing stood out dramatically.
“I didn’t see anything that screamed energy,” says Holleman.
Well, she says she hopes this season will not only scream energy, but be so well received that the auditorium becomes known far and wide for its entertainment offerings — she says they already have Virginians who travel this way for shows.
The season starts with a tribute to World War II and “The Greatest Generation.” A swing singing trio ala The Andrews Sisters known as “Victory Belles – Veterans Salute,” will take the stage just in time for Veteran’s Day.
“They’re uplifting songs from World War II,” says Holleman.
The 1940s hits such as “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” or Chattanooga Choo Choo” will be sung in three-part harmony. The show will not only bring back memories of the mid-20th century, but also stands introduce a new generation to some classic standards.
College of the Albemarle spokeswoman Lisa Johnson says that students will also receive extra credit from the English department for conducting video interviews with World War II veterans.
A big coup for Holleman and COA this year is a Dec. 9 performance by The North Carolina Symphony. It’s been 20 years since the symphony last came to COA, she says.
“I’ve been working with them for two years,” says Holleman. “It’s been a labor of love.”
The symphony, conducted by Jeffery Pollock, will perform “Holiday Pops.”
Then on Dec. 11 and 12, what Holleman says will surely energize the area, comes with not only two high-octane performances by a highly creative tap dance group, but also community involvement. The group “Rhythmic Circus” will wow audiences, she says.
“Turning tap shoes into instruments of rhythm.”
This group of performers will bring humor and “finger-snapping tunes” to the stage as they perform on sand, folding chairs and everything in between.
They will also offer “Master Classes” for beginner and intermediate tap dancers for $30. Students will have the opportunity to perform on stage with the group during their regularly scheduled performances.
“Their energy is phenomenal,” says Holleman.
After the holidays have passed, and things seem to mellow for a while, folks can get back into the swing of things with two acts whose sole purpose is to make you laugh.
On Jan. 21 the famed Second City Comedy troupe will make their way to River City. Second City is the Chicago, Ill.-based group that launched the careers of some of comedy’s superstars such as John Belushi, Dan Ackroyd and Tina Fey.
The Second City tour is called “Fair & Balanced,” and it takes aim at politicians, celebrities and “even our significant others.”
On April 9, fans of Country Music Television will recognize the comedy of Cledus T. Judd. Holleman says Judd might be described as the Al Yankovich of country music. He will perform parodies of country music hits by the likes Kenny Chesney or Tim McGraw.
He’ll also be joined on stage by comedians Matt and Monty Mitchell.
The COA Community Auditorium is also home to the college’s own COAST Players. This year, the COAST Players, led by theatrical arts director Shannon Ivey Jones, will have two events, Page to Stage Festival and “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.”
Page to Stage Festival will happen Nov. 4. In collaboration with the college’s English department, they are holding a one-act playwright competition. One or more plays written by local, aspiring playwrights will be performed by the COAST Players.
Then on March 24 through March 27, COAST Players will stage “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” based upon the book by Lewis Carroll, adapted for the stage by Deborah Lynn Frockt.
Also throughout the year, COA will bring four staged productions aimed at area school children. Holleman says she has searched for quality productions and production companies who will stage special shows for the kids.
On Oct. 18 there will be two productions, “Ugly Duckling” and “We Can Do It: American Women in History.”
“Ugly Duckling is a play that teaches good judgment, friendship, kindness and acceptance. “We Can Do It” will celebrate “courageous, confident women who have shaped our country.”
Then on Nov. 30 two performances of “American Revolution” will celebrate the birth of a nation. Students will learn the stories of the Revolution and “participate as patriots, loyalists and courageous leaders.”
Finally, on Feb. 8, students will be able to experience the power and inspiration of freed slave and famed speaker Frederick Douglass. This performance will expose students to Douglass, his life and his work.
Also for kids is the April 25 spring break camp, Bright Star. This camp will teach students about acting, writing and various theatrical arts.
Holleman points out that each the season’s performances are reasonably prices. Most range from $15 to $20 a ticket, with discounts for students, military and seniors. Season tickets for the big name acts are only $75 a piece, she says.
The theater has been a community staple and while it has been the site of various shows, Holleman says she is now promoting a “new public image” by bringing these quality acts to the stage. Each year she will scour the country for known and up and coming acts and bring them to the area, she says.
She says that with a new sound system in place, and a committed team working to make productions at COA a great experience, she’s confident people will enjoy what’s coming to the Community Auditorium.
“We’re really making strides to make this a great place for the community,” says Holleman.