The Prizery arts center is betting everything that the arts do, indeed, transform communities.
And in this post-textile, post-tobacco reality, why not?
Never one to languish or stagnate, The Prizery’s latest endeavor will explode onto the scene in June: professional Summer Musical Theatre. Known as “summer stock” and common to resort areas, June, July and August will bring in about two dozen professional actors, dancers, singers, a choreographer and designers to produce three crowd-thrilling musicals: “Dames at Sea,” “Annie” and “The All Night Strut.”
The young entertainers will live and play in Halifax County for the summer, and Prizery Executive Chris Jones, who will double as the musicals’ director, was pleasantly surprised to find that he had no trouble luring them here.
With toe-tapping tunes and upbeat, family-friendly themes, the musicals are sure to win ovations from the local crowds, but Summer Theatre has myriad additional aspirations: being yet another factor putting Halifax County on the map, nurturing talent (local and otherwise), buoying the quality of life, stimulating the economy and enhancing tourism.
With multiple shows, matinees galore and affordable tickets, Summer Theatre will be reliant on an influx of theatre-lovers from outside the immediate area in addition to enthusiastic local support. Toward this end, The Prizery will try new and creative marketing that will spill over into its regular season of visiting performers, which begins in the fall.
Best known for hosting in its Chastain Theatre touring professionals (from bluegrass icon Dr. Ralph Stanley to pop-folk star Suzanne Vega to the Vienna Boys Choir, Shakespearean theatre, the Richmond Symphony and Chinese acrobats), The Prizery is also famous for its often excellent Halifax County Little Theatre productions, the art shows and exhibits of Parsons-Bruce Art Association, Halifax County Historical Society’s permanent Crossing of the Dan installation, and classes in classical ballet, pottery and painting for all ages.
Five mornings a week during the school year, The Prizery operates its acclaimed Pre-K Arts Academy, with art, music and dance for public-school four-year-olds, most of whom are deemed at-risk.
Founded by a small army of arts- and civic-minded folks who realized that their organizations and interests deserved a physical and spiritual home, The Prizery serves as an umbrella for a half-dozen lively “User Groups” who enjoy a symbiotic, reciprocal relationship with The Prizery and, increasingly, with one another.
And while The Prizery’s Summer Musical Theatre may be one piece of the solution to transform Southern Virginia, it might just transform the careers of the fresh-faced young actors. Meet them this summer in person while you can; one day they may be on Broadway, television or a movie screen.
Tickets are on sale now; prices start at $4 for youth and $12 for adults. To reserve seats, call (434) 572-8339 or visit www.prizery.com. The Summer Theatre season runs June 24-August 7.