Columbia County's new library and performing arts center will open next spring.
In response, Columbia County Arts, in conjunction with Columbia County's government, is already gearing up for a big bang opening.
The local arts organization will soon hold auditions for a production of The Music Man for the grand opening of the Columbia County Public Library and Performing Arts Theater, slated for late April and early May.
"One of the reasons we decided to choose that is because it does center around Marian 'The Librarian' and the library, so that's why we thought it would be an appropriate performance," said Fred Elser, a co-founder of Stage III Ltd. and Columbia County Arts Inc. "We also hope to involve some of the high school bands in the finale of the show when the children perform."
Elser, who will direct the production, said about 30 people are needed for the cast, including 15 speaking parts and a chorus. All ages are needed.
"Anybody who is interested in trying out, our auditions are open to the public," Elser said.
Auditions for children ages 7-14 will be held from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 19, at Savannah Rapids Pavilion. Anyone 15 or older is invited to audition from 2 to 5 p.m. Sept. 18 and from 7 to 9 p.m. Sept. 19 at the pavilion.
The Music Man is Meredith Wilson's musical story of con man Harold Hill, who comes to River City, Iowa, selling musical instruments and the idea of creating a town band. But his plan goes awry when his secret scam is discovered and he falls in love with Marian "The Librarian" Paroo. The musical features classic songs such as Seventy-Six Trombones and Till There Was You.
Elser said he's proud that Columbia County Arts gets to be the first to perform in the Jabez Sanford Hardin Performing Arts Center.
"It's quite an honor. It's a state-of-the-art performing arts center and library to be proud of," Elser said.
When the buildings and grounds are completed, the center will include a library, meeting and conference rooms, a 300-seat performing arts center, a memorial garden, a pond and a 1,000-seat outdoor amphitheater.
"We hope to do things like Shakespeare festivals and other performances there," Elser said.
The musical production will be but one of the large-scale events to celebrate the opening of the library center. Barry Smith, Columbia County's Leisure Services Division director, said a black-tie gala fundraiser will be held Jan. 21 to raise funds for a 10-day series of events, entertainment and speakers to visit the library center April 20-30 as part of its opening celebration.
"This is the very first event that is going to happen," Smith said.
"It's basically a kick-off gala to kind of expose people to the facility and to raise money."
Those two weeks of celebratory events will feature The Music Man performances April 28-30 and May 5-6, both children's and mainstream authors, storytelling, marionette performances, book sales, genealogical workshops and a major author book signing, Smith said.
"We've got a lot lined up," he said, adding that events will be filled in with plenty of local entertainment such as pianists, harpists and violists.
For more information about The Music Man auditions, contact Elser at 868-9663 or 868-4329 or Bob Schwamberger at 855-1382.
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