A farewell to an icon, a hello to some energetic newcomers and lots of heartwarming rock ’n’ roll memories will highlight the 2016 spring/summer series at the MSU Riley Center in historic downtown Meridian.
The MSU Riley Center’s restored Victorian theater will also host the world’s best dancers, one of the most powerful voices in country music, and the returns of both an intimate songwriters showcase and a beloved children’s character.
The series begins on March 10 with a don’t-miss occasion: Legendary contemporary Christian artist Sandi Patty will perform as part of her final major concert tour. Forever Grateful: The Farewell Tour will feature new songs, old favorites and performances by four of Patty’s children.
Next, in April, comes a rousing musical trip back to the Ireland of a century ago. The “Spirit of Freedom” show spotlights a spirited troupe of young singers, dancers, actors and musicians known as Celtic Nights.
Lovers of classic rock can look forward to a feast. Creedence Clearwater Revisited in May, Three Dog Night and Huey Lewis and the News in June, and Little River Band in August will bring back the good times and the great songs of the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s.
Ballet at its absolute best will grace the stage in April. Moscow Festival Ballet, a troupe of top dancers from across Russia, will perform the consummate classical ballet, “The Sleeping Beauty,” with music by Tchaikovsky and original choreography from 1890 -- the founding year of the MSU Riley Center’s Grand Opera House theater.
July will bring country superstar LeAnn Rimes, whose rich soprano can belt out defiance or convey aching heartbreak with equal assurance.
The popular Heart Behind the Music songwriters showcase returns to the Riley Center in April with a couple of music-industry veterans as well as some newcomers, including one who is only 14 years old.
And every Riley Center series includes at least one family show. This time, Junie B. Jones, the feisty title character of a treasured series of children’s books, will share a musical “survival guide” to school that will leave both kids and parents smiling.
“Putting together an entertainment series for our diverse community always takes a lot of work and planning,” said Dennis Sankovich, executive director of the MSU Riley Center for Education & Performing Arts. “But we start with a big advantage: our gem of a theater. Our audiences delight in the elegant atmosphere and exceptional acoustics, and performers love to come here too, for the same reasons.”
Sankovich cited one other major contributor to the Riley Center’s success: “The continuing sponsorship we receive from The Riley Foundation allows us to bring the very best artists to Meridian. We are deeply grateful for the continuing support of the Foundation.”
The Riley Center offers a range of season-ticket options. Patrons can customize their own packages of shows and receive discounted prices and other perks. If subscribers lose or forget their tickets, the Box Office will issue duplicates on the spot. With a simple phone call, subscribers can also arrange to leave their tickets at the Box Office for friends, family members or clients.
Current season-ticket holders must renew by Feb. 3 to retain the same seats. New season-ticket buyers can purchase full-season packages starting Feb. 8. A smaller “build your own package” option, which includes a discount and early seating, is available starting Feb. 15 for those who wish to purchase tickets to three or more shows. Tickets for individual shows go on sale Feb. 22.
Performances begin at 7:30 p.m. except for family shows, which start at 7 p.m. Select shows will feature pre-show parties in the Grand Lobby, allowing patrons to socialize and enjoy refreshments as they await the evening’s entertainment.
For more information, please visit www.MSURileyCenter.com.