Hylton Center Previews Its Fifth Season

The National Acrobats of the People's Republic of China 7. Photo Courtesy of the Artists

Friends of the Hylton Performing Arts Center  at George Mason University, Prince William Campus in Manassas enjoyed a fringe benefit of membership: an invite to the Season 5 Preview, March 12, complete with a champagne toast and desserts.

Hylton Center Executive Director Rick Davis welcomed everyone to “No. 9 on the list of the 25 Most Amazing College Campus Theaters” by BestCollegeReviews.org .

“As we look forward to our fifth season, it’s clearer than ever that the Hylton Center has become an indispensable community asset,” Davis said.

He explained that by the end of June, “around 100,000 people will have taken advantage of the Center’s amazing capabilities,” whether to see a play, attend an art gallery reception, or attend a civics meeting.


In making the announcement, Tom Reynolds, the Hylton Center’s director of artistic programming, shared Season 5 highlights via video presentation.

Deana Martin 5. Photo Credit - John Griffeth, Studio A Productions

Novant Health is the 2014-2015 Hylton Presents Season Sponsor, which includes:

  • Broadway’s Next Hit Musical, Sept. 20
  • The Senegal St. Joseph Gospel Choir, Oct. 3
  • Aquila Theatre: The Tempest, Oct. 11
  • The National Acrobats of the People’s Republic of China: Cirque Peking, Oct 19
  • Deana Martin: A Tribute to Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra, Nov. 2
  • Chanticleer: A Chanticleer Christmas, Nov. 30
  • American Festival Pops Orchestra: Holiday Pops, Dec. 12
  • Clint Black: Clint Black Christmas, Dec. 14
  • Arlo Guthrie: Alice’s Restaurant: 50th Anniversary Tour, Feb. 6
  • American Festival Pops Orchestra: Valentine’s Day Pops, Feb. 14
  • Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra: An Evening with Doc Severinsen, Feb. 20
  • Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy: Visions from Cape Breton and Beyond, Mar. 1
  • Tango Buenos Aires: Song of Eva Peron, Mar. 8
  • Russian National Ballet Theatre: Cinderella, Mar. 27
  • Phil Vassar and Lyndsey Highlander, Apr. 18
  • Keyboard Conversations: Popular Piano Classics, Apr. 19
  • Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Chamber Ensemble, May 3

More information about each of the events can be found on the Hylton Center’s website.

Reynolds and Davis present to Friends of the Hylton Center on Mar. 12. (Photo by Cindy Brookshire)


Reynolds emphasized the mutual trust that has developed between the Hylton Center, the communities it serves and vice-versa.

“You told us to try new things and each time we have, we’ve loved them. We’ve come to trust you,” said Reynolds. “I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know everything about all the genres we’re presenting next year, but I’ve reached out to people who do, and I believe we’ve got the best in show in each of the areas.”

Davis echoed Reynolds after another audience member complemented the recent performance of the Haifa Symphony Orchestra of Israel.

“This is a good example of the trust comment because that was an orchestra making its first U.S. tour,” he explained. “We booked it on a good reputation, and with a young soloist [pianist Roman Rabinovich] who had just won a prestigious prize in London, but his was not a name on everyone’s list.”

Reynolds and Davis pointed out a return of Matinee Idylls, a weekday afternoon music series that will return with four classical concerts during the year along with a catered luncheon, coffee and dessert with the artists.

“We might throw in a couple of Matinee Idylls this summer with artists who are coming into our midst,” Davis said.

He has already said “yes” to “Amal and the Night Visitors” with the American Pops Orchestra on Dec. 2, the returning Burns Night Supper and the Hylton in the Highlands Festival, and they have booked a military ensemble to perform around Veteran’s Day.

Hylton Extra

This season, the Hylton Center hopes to capitalize on the availability of outstanding artists that happen to be in the area. Some weren’t part of the subscription program because their tours were still taking shape, while others jumped at the opportunity to play at the beautiful venue.

Davis said they are announcing these artists to Friends of the Hylton Center first, with several weeks’ notice, before tickets go on sale to the general public.

Maestro Lorin Maazel (Photo Credit: Chris Lee)

Summer Delights

The Hylton Center will also present Maestro Lorin Maazel’s popular Castleton Festival at the Hylton this summer on July 10.

“[Denyce Graves] has been developing and field testing around the country that blends operatic favorites with the very serious high end musical theater favorites,” said Davis. “That’s going to be an extraordinary program.”


The Hylton Family Series of four performances continues to be affordable at $15 for adults and $5 for children.

The series features Tony nominee John Tartaglia’s under-the-sea, glow-in-the-dark musical, “ImaginOcean;” Berenstain Bears LIVE! in “Family Matters: The Musical,” based on Stan and Jan Berenstain’s beloved children’s books; the Emmy-nominated Pushcart Players with “Alice in Wonderland;” and folk icon Peter Yarrow in a concert encouraging children to treat others with compassion.

ImaginOcean 6. Trio with map. Photo Credit - Aaron Epstein

Annie Hunt Burriss, CEO of Mason’s Prince William Campus, shared that she was meeting with a visiting scientist who was curious about the 15 school buses outside the center that day. She took him to see Merchant Hall filled with children enjoying a musical, and he would bring his partners from around the world here, “because, look at what you do for the children.”

“My hat is off to those of you that have the vision and courage to come together and do a public/private partnership that created this incredible place,” Burriss said.

Resident Arts Partners

The 2014-2015 season also sees new works presented by the Hylton Center’s Resident Arts Partners.

Manassas Ballet Theatre, one of the few ballet companies that uses live music for a, will again produce “COLIN: Son, Marine, Hero,” the critically acclaimed ballet about Colin J. Wolfe, the Marine son of Amy Grant Wolfe, Manassas Ballet Theatre’s artistic director.

Manassas Ballet Theatre  presents “Nutcracker,” “Peter and the Wolf and More!” and “Giselle.”

Manassas Chorale presents “It’s About Time!” and “Joyful and Triumphant,” as well as the annual Voices United Concert,with over 170 voices, and Spring Concert with the full Chorale, Chorale Ensemble and a Children’s Honor Choir.

Manassas Symphony Orchestra brings a series of ambitious concerts on a very high level, named in Latin, that include “Mythus,” “Classicus,” “Circus! Circus!!” and “Sonus.”

Merchant Theatre at the Hylton Center.

Prince William Little Theatre presents “The Musical of Musicals (The Musical!)” and “Jesus Christ Superstar,” as well as a comedy still to be announced.

Youth Orchestras of Prince William, five orchestras of which the top two play at the Hylton Center, present a series of concerts that include “Crazy Eights” and “Bang on These Drums.”

Manassas Symphony Orchestra and YOPW will both present commissioned works in the new season.

Ricki Guyant, a board member of YOPW, which performed at Carnegie Hall last year praised the venue.

“We’re in our 31st season, and we’re thrilled to be here,” Guyant said. “We’ve grown as a result of our exposure at the Hylton, through this wonderful facility. It is specifically designed to give the audience a better sensory experience of the sound more so than at a high school auditorium, and that’s a huge draw for our top groups that perform here.”

Davis encouraged patrons to subscribe to the resident partner productions as well as the Hylton Presents series.

“The common thread is we have a vibrant arts community; each one of these ensembles is committed to doing interesting, challenging work; they do it on a high level, and they do it right here for very affordable prices.”

He also noted that the resident arts partners represent almost half of the programming at the Hylton Center.

Children participate in Hylton's Arts Alive! festival.

That’s What Friends Are For

As Friends of the Hylton Performing Arts Center, Gainesville residents Celia LaPlaca and her husband Ben have been avid supporters since before the Center was built. The couple once hosted a home concert with an opera singer and a pianist and invited 50 people to encourage them to become Friends.

“The least amount you donate to become a Friend is $75,” said Celia. “It’s very reasonable and the Friends group is very bonding.”

Friends of the Hylton Center support the programming and resident art partners, support community outreach and education programs and keep tickets reasonably priced, making the arts accessible to all.

Membership levels range from “member” ($75 to $149) to “sustainer” ($5,000+). Corporate matches can double or triple a gift. Benefits increase with the level of giving. Some Friends enjoy invitations to special events and receptions, backstage tours, access to the Lovey Hammel Lounge or even a private concert or dinner “in the Jeffersonian style.”

“Only 60 percent of the ticket sales go toward the costs of running the center, so we volunteer to promote the center and bring in more people to become friends,” Celia said.

Eileen Kennedy, Director of Development, Hylton Center said of Friends support, “our beautiful center is priceless…you are the mortar to our bricks.”

Ticket office manager Cassie Matthews encouraged subscribers to order tickets online, in person, by mail or by phone, but suggested people subscribe early to get the best seats and give several seating preferences.

The ticket office is setting up half-hour appointments, March 18-23, to walk patrons through the subscription and payment process. A payment plan is available. Tickets will be delivered mid- to late August.

© 2014, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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