HAMLET — The stars keep getting bigger and brighter in the show line-up for the DeWitt Performing Arts Series. Headlining the 2017-18 season is a duet performance featuring Nashville recording artist Phil Vassar and country music darling Kellie Pickler on their special holiday tour.
Two essential holiday-favorites, Vassar and Pickler are teaming up for “A Christmas Tour,” bringing them to the Cole Auditorium on Dec. 14. In honor of the tour, Vassar and Pickler combined their musical talents for a new Christmas single this holiday season called, “The Naughty List.”
An American Idol alum and Albemarle native, Pickler performed at the Cole as part of the “Hometown Country” show with Bucky Covington in October 2012. Pickler is now starring in her own reality show on CMT entitled “I Love Kellie Pickler.” She is known for her hits “Red High Heels,” “I Wonder” and “Best Days of Your Life.”
Vassar was known to hard-core country music fans for his songwriting credits long before his first big hit, “Carlene.” Having written songs for well-known country artists Tim McGraw, Jo Dee Messina, and Collin Raye, Vassar has made a name for himself as an artist with songs like “Just Another Day in Paradise,” “Six-Pack Summer” and “I’ll Take That as a Yes.”
“We are excited to have such talented acts lined up for the DeWitt Performing Arts series,” Cole Auditorium Director Joey Bennett said. “We strive to bring high caliber shows to this community, and this year we are offering a unique mix of shows and performances that will be gracing our brand new stage. The auditorium suffered some extensive water damage this summer, so we are excited to be able to start the season with no delays and in a newly renovated facility.”
Kicking the season off on Sept. 19 is three-time Grammy Award winner Debby Boone, whose music crosses over into pop, country and gospel genres. The “You Light Up My Life” singer was a huge hit for the DeWitt Series when she performed at the Cole Auditorium in 2011, and this year’s performance is sure to be another crowd pleaser.
Boone brings a mix of songs from her critically acclaimed show, “Reflections of Rosemary,” which is an intimate musical portrait of her late mother-in-law, the legendary singer Rosemary Clooney, and songs from her newest project, “Swing This.”
Boone, who is the daughter of singer/actor Pat Boone, earned her own claim to fame when “You Light Up My Life” became an overnight hit in 1977, claiming the No. 1 spot on the Billboard charts for 10 straight weeks and selling over four million copies. Boone has appeared in several musical theatre productions and has co-authored many children’s books.
Flip Fabrique’s ‘Catch Me’
The next show in the line-up will be a high-energy, internationally touring acrobatic troupe unlike anything that has been in the DeWitt Series. Flip Fabrique’s “Catch Me” will feature six high-flying acrobats at the Cole Auditorium on Oct. 23. The show is described as a “cirque celebration of gravity-defying fun and fellowship” with acrobatic tricks and stunts, including stunts performed on a trampoline wall.
“We’ve never had an acrobatic group or cirque show that showcase the trampoline wall before, so we’re excited to bring this new element to the DeWitt Series that will bring thrills and chills to our audience,” said Bennett.
‘Return of the Dukes’
Next in line for the season are the real Duke Boys. John Schnieder and Tom Wopat from the wildly successful television show, “The Dukes of Hazzard,” have reunited over a shared talent for music, and they will be bringing their show, “Return of the Dukes,” to the Cole on Feb. 2.
Best known for their roles as Bo and Luke Duke on “The Dukes of Hazzard,” Schneider and Wopat were part of the TV series that ran from 1979 to 1985 and included 147 episodes and seven seasons.
“When you hear the opening chords for ‘Good Ol’ Boys,’ you immediately think of Bo and Luke Duke running from the law in the General Lee,” Bennett said. “While they won’t be arriving in the General Lee, Schneider and Wopat will be combining their musical talents on stage for a very unique show that will surely include entertaining stories from their years as Bo and Luke Duke.”
Both Schneider and Wopat had successful solo careers beyond the TV series. Schneider starred on Broadway in “Chicago” and “Grand Hotel,” in addition to crossing the country on the national tour of “The Civil War.” His 10 solo albums have topped the Billboard County charts since the 1970s, including four No. 1 country hits and a No. 1 Country Album with “A Memory Like You.”
Wopat released a series of popular country albums, followed by a string of acclaimed pop/jazz albums featuring new arrangements of American Songbook classics. As a Broadway leading man with his engaging presence and warm baritone, Wopat received Tony Award nominations for starring in “Annie Get Your Gun” and “A Catered Affair.”
Moscow Festival Ballet
On March 14, the Moscow Festival Ballet will perform “Cinderella” on the stage of the Cole. Founded in 1989 by legendary principal dancer of the Bolshoi Ballet Sergei Radchenko, this ballet company brings the highest classical elements of Russian ballet with leading dancers from across Russia. They have performed timeless productions such as “Giselle,” “Don Quixote,” “Paquita” and “Carmen.”
“This show follows the popularity of last year’s presentation of “Nutcracker,” Bennett said. “We were excited to have dozens in attendance from our local dance schools last year and hope to fill the Auditorium again for this year’s ballet presentation. Information about special tickets for the dance troupes will be provided to the dance companies.”
‘Million Dollar Quartet’
Wrapping up a stellar season of shows is the “Million Dollar Quartet,” which will be performed March 24. The professional touring performance of the Broadway hit recreates the recording session that Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash shared in 1956. The show was a 2010 Tony Award Nominee for Best Musical and has had 489 runs on Broadway. The 2017 CMT series, “Sun Records,” was also based on this Broadway show.
All shows begin at 7:30 p.m. at the Cole Auditorium located on the main campus of Richmond Community College in Hamlet.
Season ticket holders from 2016-2017 are being given first opportunity to renew the seats they had for the past season. Ticket renewal packets will be mailed out soon, followed by an automated phone call to ticket holders from last season. Cole staff members are currently taking requests from those interested in purchasing season tickets who didn’t purchase last year. Those requests are fulfilled in the order in which they are received.
“There are season tickets available for the general public, even if you didn’t purchase last year or haven’t purchased in the past, so don’t think that we are sold out,” Bennett said.
Season ticket prices range from $125 to $175, depending on seating section, and includes reserved-seating tickets for all six shows. Although individual show tickets may be available, purchasing season tickets affords patrons a large cost savings and guarantees seats for the shows.
Individual ticket prices range from $35 to $50, depending on seating section.
Cole Auditorium staff will be offering patrons who purchase season tickets the opportunity to join The Director’s Circle. This optional membership-giving program supports the RichmondCC Foundation and offers special privileges for members, including a reception before each show and the possibility to meet and greet performers. A full season brochure can be viewed on the auditorium’s website at www.richmondcc.edu/cole-auditorium.
The box office hours are Monday through Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. You can also call the box office at 910-410-1691. Information is also available on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.