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TFA'S NEW PREMIERE: OPEN THE DOOR, VIRGINIA - 1/30/05

December 3, 2004
Contact: Press & Media Relations Coordinator (703-993-8794)

For general information about tickets, seating, parking, etc., for performances and events happening at the Center for the Arts, please contact the ticket office directly at 703-993-2787.

GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY’S CENTER FOR THE ARTS
THEATER OF THE FIRST AMENDMENT
PRESENTS
A WORLD PREMIERE, MUSICAL THEATER EVENT –
OPEN THE DOOR, VIRGINIA!
The big role a small county played in an historic decision…
January 12 - February 6, 2005,
Wednesday - Friday at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 2 & 8 p.m.,
Sundays at 4 p.m. (February 6 at 2 p.m.)


Fairfax, Virginia, December 12, 2004— Award-winning choreographer and dancer Dianne Mclntyre and one of America’s greatest bluesmen, Olu Dara, team up again for the world premiere of Open The Door Virginia!, a music-theater work exploring the historic moments of a student-organized strike in Virginia’s Prince Edward County in 1951 – a strike which led to one of the pivotal court cases forming the monumental 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision. Commissioned and produced by George Mason’s own professional company, Theater of the First Amendment, performances are January12 through February 6 in Harris Theater on the Fairfax campus of George Mason University.

Based on interviews with Virginians involved in that early court case, Open The Door, Virginia!, through its blend of historic facts and dramatic vision, depicts the story though song, dance and spoken word. The cast includes Nyahale Allie, Steven A. Butler, Jr., Joy Jones, Joseph Lane, Cedric Sanders, and Tryphena Wade.

Director and choreographer Dianne Mclntyre formed her own company, Sounds in Motion, in which her choreography was mostly based on jazz music with blend of modern dance and African American social dance, in the early 1970s. As a choreographer, she has worked in productions both on and off-Broadway. She was an Emmy nomination for her work on the HBO production of Miss Evers' Boys. Theater of the First Amendment produced three of McIntyre’s works in the past: the Helen Hayes Award-winning In Living Colors, I Could Stop on a Dime and Get Ten Cents Change, which the choreographer created as an homage to her father’s adventuresome youth in Cleveland from the 1920s onward, and Blues Rooms.

Composer and Musical director Olu Dara is an acclaimed composer and multi-instrumentalist, who blends Mississippi blues, modern jazz/funk and a wealth of African themes into his signature style. He has worked on 70 albums with various artists from diverse backgrounds, including his son, hip hop artist Nas. Dara has also written an original musical melodrama, From Natchez to New York, aired on National Public Radio and performed live at the Smithsonian. His latest album, "Neighborhoods," was released in 2001. Dara has collaborated previously with Dianne McIntyre for Theater of the First Amendment’s productions of Blues Rooms in 1998, and In Living Colors in 1992.

The creative team assembled for Open the Door, Virginia! includes scenic designer Narelle Sissons, costume designer David Burdick, lighting designer Allen Lee Hughes, and sound designer Jens McVoy. The stage manager is Valerie K. Wheeler.

With this new work, its songs and movement depicting emotions running the gamut from despair to joy to hope, Open the Door, Virginia!, celebrates the rich history and heritage of Virginia. Theater of the First Amendment continues its mission to contribute substantial, imaginative, and creative new works to the American dramatic repertoire.

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Tickets for Open The Door, Virginia! are $25. Charge by phone at 703-218-6500 or visit www.tickets.com. The Center for the Arts complex is located on the Fairfax campus of George Mason University at the intersection of Braddock Road and Route 123. Paid parking is located in the deck adjacent to the mainstage Concert Hall and FREE parking is located in university lot K. Visit www.gmu.edu/cfa

OPEN THE DOOR, VIRGINIA IS MADE POSSIBLE IN PART BY MEMBERS OF THE OPEN THE DOOR, VIRGINIA! PRODUCERS CIRCLE, A GRANT FROM THE VIRGINIA COMMISSION FOR THE ARTS, THE NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE ARTS AND THE THEATRE COMMUNICATIONS GROUP/MET LIFE FOUNDATION EXTENDED COLLABORATION GRANT.

GREAT PERFORMANCES AT MASON is a program of George Mason University’s Center for the Arts, the professional presenting arm of the College of Visual and Performing Arts. The College of Visual and Performing Arts exists to create an academic environment in which the arts may be considered both as individual disciplines and as interdisciplinary forms that strengthen each other. Believing that an education in the arts is deepened by regular contact with the work of distinguished visiting artists, the College draws on a variety of professional presenting and producing units where artists from across the country and around the world regularly perform, give master classes, work with students during extended residencies, and interact with the community in a variety of other ways. These programs at the Center for the Arts Concert Hall, TheaterSpace, Galleries, Harris Theater, and other venues, provide a diverse selection of challenging and entertaining cultural experiences for the University community, as well as Northern Virginia and the greater Washington, D.C. area. The College houses four academic departments: Art and Visual Technology, Dance, Music and Theater.