Monday, April 9, 2018

‘Rent,’ ‘Spamalot’ and ‘Sound of Music’ coming to Sangamon Auditorium

If there’s one overarching theme for the next year at Sangamon Auditorium at the University of Illinois Springfield, it’s that of change.

Perhaps the biggest change is one in leadership — Sangamon Auditorium has a new director, Bryan Rives. He started six months ago after the previous director, Bob Vaughn, announced his retirement. 

“Now I’m at a point where ... we really have a direction of where we want to go in the future and take the auditorium,” he said.

But some traditions — especially around the Broadway series — will endure.

The 2018-19 Broadway season for Sangamon Auditorium starts in November and includes “Spamalot,” the 20th anniversary touring show of “Rent,” “Rock of Ages,” “The Sound of Music,” “The King and I” and “Finding Neverland.”

Another change is one of pricing. In the past, the tickets for the Broadway shows would sometimes start at $77, but the range this year goes from balcony seats at $49 to closer seats of up to $89.

Given the budget constraints of UIS, Rives wants to bring shows with wide appeal to the audience in central Illinois. “If we were to bring in some fringe arts groups or unknown artists into a 2,000-seat auditorium that only attracts 200 people, that’s essentially the community voting and saying that’s not really what we’re looking for,” Rives said.

The new approach also means more flexibility. In the past, Sangamon Auditorium would announce a season of about 20 shows spanning three different categories: Broadway, Visiting Artists and Kitchen Sink. This year, Rives and his staff wanted to approach programming by stepping away from a season that has a set beginning and end to move toward a model that goes all year long.

This flexibility means there are more options for bigger shows. “We’re able to be open to any show at any time,” Rives said.

Some of the other changes at Sangamon Auditorium will include transformations to the auditorium itself. During the summer, it will shut down to do some routine maintenance and renovations to some of the backstage areas. There are tentative plans to give the lobby a facelift and other plans to make the evening’s entertainment start long before the audience even gets to the UIS campus.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on April 6, 2018.

Read the entire article online.