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The performer/songwriter who co-wrote “Eye of the Tiger” for Sylvester Stallone’s “Rocky III,” comedians, other musicians and a bonus Christmas program by America's premier doo-wop group are included in East Central University’s 2011-12 Fine Arts Season, along with regular ECU theatre and music productions.

Season tickets are on sale until Sept. 1 for six national touring productions and five ECU Theatre and ECU Opera performances.

Appearing at ECU will be comedian, magician and ventriloquist Andy Gross; Grammy-winning singer, songwriter and guitar/keyboardist Jim Peterik; doo-wop group Alley Cat with a special Christmas show; Nobodies of Comedy, six up-and-coming comedians; Broadway singer Franc D'Ambrosio, best known as the “Phantom” in “Phantom of the Opera;” and Black Violin, two musicians who fuse their classical training with the urban musical genre.

Grammy-winning Jim Peterik, Broadway star Franc D’Ambrosio and innovative musicians Black Violin are among the performers coming to East Central University during the 2011-12 academic year.
Photo of Black Violin

Season tickets are $111.12 and can be purchased by cash, check or credit card by calling the ECU Foundation office at 580-559-5514. They can be picked up at the will-call window the night of the performance.

Individual tickets for the touring productions will cost $15 and should be available online about mid-August. Theatre productions will cost $10.

“In many venues these acts would cost up to $30 per ticket, but thanks to our sponsors and endowments, we are able to charge far less.” said Dr. Brad Jessop, director of the School of Fine Arts, “and that makes this season particularly exciting.”

Concerts by ECU bands, ensembles and vocal groups are included in the season, but there are no admission charges for them.

Andy Gross, the only entertainer who currently combines stand up comedy, magic and ventriloquism successfully, will open the season at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 15 in the Ataloa Theatre in the Hallie Brown Ford Fine Arts Center.


Gross performs more than 150 shows a year at comedy clubs, Fortune 500 corporate events, colleges and performing arts theaters, as well as in Las Vegas and on cruise ships. He also has made numerous TV appearances.

Jim Peterik will perform a number of his classic rock songs at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 14 in the Ataloa Theatre. As the founding member of both Survivor and The Ides Of March, he has been responsible for 18 Top 10 hits. Three of his hits, “Vehicle,” “The Search is Over” and the Grammy-winning “Eye of the Tiger” made it all the way to No. 1.

He also is responsible for many of the hits of .38 Special, such as “Hold On Loosely,” “Caught Up In You,” and “Fantasy Girl.” His songs have been featured worldwide in countless movies, television shows, sporting events and commercials.

His first smooth jazz project is Jim Peterik’s Lifeforce (Jazz that rocks).

A special Christmas production will be offered on Nov. 29. Alley Cats, America's premier doo-wop group, will present their Christmas show at 7:30 p.m. in the Ataloa Theatre. The group also will star in the Doo Wop Drive-In in Branson in November.

“As our special Christmas Gift,” Jessop said, “this show is free to season ticket holders and only $10 at the door.”

The Alley Cats’ a cappella style, musical talent, comic timing and interaction with audiences have made them favorites for more than 20 years. They have performed with Jay Leno, Rascal Flatts and the Beach Boys and at the White House.

The Nobodies of Comedy is an annual collection of rising stars and club regulars. The five comedians will offer edgy, adult comedy on Jan. 26. In this year’s lineup are Pat Dixon, James Johann, Mark Viera, Mike Whitman and Rachel Feinstein.

Franc D’Ambrosio held the title of “World’s Longest Running Phantom” for nearly a decade. He was “discovered” in the chorus of his first Broadway show and cast as the opera-singing son in the film “Godfather III.” He also sang the film’s Academy Award-winning theme song, “Speak Softly Love.”


He tours extensively with three one-man shows and will perform “Franc D’Ambrosio’s Broadway” at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 28 in the Ataloa Theatre. He is a frequent guest artist in American orchestras’ and symphonies’ pop series. He performed twice on skater Brian Boitano’s TV specials and co-starred with Dorothy Hamill in 2008 in Broadway on Ice.

Black Violin has been described as an ingenious duo that portrays black music from a violin’s perspective. Classically trained violinists Wil B and Kev Marcus have a signature style that considers jazz, hip-hop, funk and classical as ingredients, not just musical genres, and appeals to a hip-hop fan base and music enthusiasts everywhere.

Black Violin, which will perform at 8 p.m. March 26, in the Ataloa Theatre, first garnered national attention by appearing with Alicia Keys at the Billboard Music awards and touring with Mike Shinoda, lead singer of Linkin Park. The duo also has performed with P.Diddy, Kanye West, Fifty Cent, Aerosmith, Tom Petty, Aretha Franklin and the Eagles.

 ECU Theatre will present “Blithe Spirit” Oct. 6-8; “A Shot in the Dark,” Nov. 17-19; “Cabaret” Feb. 16-19; and “Lysistrata” April 19-21. ECU Opera will present “Hansel and Gretel” Nov. 10-13 and Collage, ECU’s dance company, will present its Spring Dance Concert April 26-28.

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