A fast-paced, light-hearted look at what was "cool" at the time and how events shaped East Central University and its presidents will be presented at ECU Sept. 28 [FRIDAY] to celebrate ECU's history and the inauguration of President Richard Rafes.
"Tiger Tales" will begin at 6 p.m. in the Dorothy Summers Theatre and include multi-media presentations, skits and music, songs and dances that were popular during each ECU president's tenure.
Tickets are $15 and are available by calling ECU's Advancement Office at 580-559-5253. Advanced purchases are recommended. Proceeds from the show will help establish a scholarship for ECU students.
The revue was written by Dr. Delma Hall, assistant vice president for academic affairs and a long-time director of ECU Theatre. A number of students, faculty members, alumni and community members are involved in the production.
"It has fun glimpses of history," Hall said. "It will bring back a lot of memories for a lot of people. They will remember certain times of their lives. It's a very active, diversified performance."
Because ECU has had only seven presidents since 1909, Hall thought it would be interesting to look at the time each held the office.
"As each president served, the world changed, sometimes in very specific ways. "Students changed, too," she said. "What they thought was 'cool' in music and dances changed."
Hall said mass communication students have put together short multimedia presentations about each president that will be projected onto big screens on either side of the stage. They will give the audience a feel of what was going on during each presidency.
"Then the curtain opens," she said, and entertainers will perform something from that era.
Charles W. Briles was ECU's first president, from 1909 to 1916.
"It was quite common then for people to go to Glenwood Park on Sunday afternoons," Hall said. "We'll have a ragtime piano player, Skye Garcia, and students dancing the two-step to "Strolling Through the Park."
President James M. Gordon served only four years, 1916 to 1920, when 19 percent of the students left the campus during World War I. Entertainment from that era will include World War I songs and dancers performing a precision drill with the ECU Marching Band's drum line.
"The State Department of Education had a requirement that all students participate in precision drill," Hall said. "They had no choice. The men drilled one hour and the women drilled half an hour. They would parade down Main Street, 600 girls behind the band."
Dr. Adolph Linscheid was president from 1920 to 1949.
"The world really changed during this time," Hall explained. "There was the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, World War II and a lot of changing views of women."
Students will dance the Charleston and ECU's Jazz Band will perform Big Band selections. Hall has even included a trio performing "The Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy."
Dr. Charles Spencer served from 1949 to 1969 - the rock 'n' roll era.
"We're hoping to have Elvis," Hall said with a smile. His "Heartbreak Hotel," written by ECU Distinguished Alumna Mae Boren Axton, will be included in this segment, along with the Twist and music of the Beatles.
Dr. Stanley Wagner's era, from 1969 to 1988, brought big changes and was influenced by the Vietnam War, hippies and women's lib, Hall said.
Dancers will perform to "The Age of Aquarius, and "John Travolta" and a partner will dance the Hustle. A Readers Theatre skit written by Hall will show how language has changed over the years.
"It's about how the word 'relationship' is substituted for love," she said. "I got the idea from an editorial. A man and woman are sitting at a bar and he says he's just ended a relationship. That ticks her off, and she tells him if he had said he just ended a love affair or a romance, not a relationship, she could have felt sorry for him."
They sing snippets of songs substituting the word "relationship" for "love."
"For Dr. Bill Cole, who was president from 1989 to 2006, we could do many things," Hall said. "During his presidency the university established a closer relationship with the Chickasaw Nation, so we will have a Chickasaw dance troupe."
Cole also oversaw the "technology revolution" of computers and cell phones and Hall has included a skit set in 1999 with a student explaining a computer to a 1969 alum, calling tech support and talking about email.
"And 9-11 happened," Hall said. A student will sing the Alan Jackson song, "Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning?"
For Dr. Richard Rafes, who became president on July 1, 2006, Hall and her team are planning some special effects.
"He branded the university," she explained. "We talk about the new ECU tiger and Pantone 1655 (ECU's new orange color). The main thing he brought with him is his mantra that we become the premiere student-centered regional university."
Hall, who has blended that theme into a big finish for the revue, said she has learned fascinating things about the university and the people associated with it.
"Dr. Linscheid came here in 1920. If you look at how the world was in 1949 (at the end of his tenure), they were different worlds. And that was true for nearly all the presidents.
"Our presidents have been rather remarkable people," Hall added. "I've learned a tremendous amount about them and gained a lot of respect for the men who've led the university."
An art exhibit will be on display in the theatre's lobby.
The inaugural ceremony for Rafes will begin at 2 p.m. in Kerr Activities Center. A reception will follow in the University Center at 4 p.m. Both events are open to the public.
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