SPECIAL PREVIEW: Sizzlin’ ROCK OPERA Kicks Off Glow Lyric’s 11th Summer Season

DeAna Earl in Rock Opera. Photo by Will Crooks

Glow Lyric Theatre emerges from Covid-shutdown this Thursday live at the Kroc Center in Greenville with the riotous Rock Opera in an all-original sizzling and safe 2021 summer season.

An amalgam of modern music with operatic inflexions, Rock Opera, the first of three shows on the summer bill, is weird, rebellious and in your face,” says co-founder and Artistic Director Jenna Elser of the coveted setlist with “everything from Lady Gaga to Prince,” and artists such as Queen, Marvin Gaye, and Foreigner, in addition to selections from familiar faves like Jesus Christ Superstar, Rent, Carmen and Tosca.

“Fusion songs with operatic components,” as Ms. Elzer describes this accessible pops concept.

“The synergy of the cast is weird, rebellious and in your face. People can come to ‘rock out’ …or if they want to be inspired, think and take action, they can do that too,” adds Elser reaffirming the organization’s mission of utilizing theatre for social change.

“It’s responding what we have all experience in the last year and half….Black Lives Matter, the experience of the LGBTQ+ community and some girl power too.”

Rock Opera – starring local fabulous performers Javier Pagan, DeBryant Johnson, DeAna Earl and Janelle Odom, and professional performers from around the country – is set on the urban street scenery of the great Will Ragland.

Furthermore, all of the actors/singers have equity in the shows, contributing their own stories and experiences in “a cathartic collaborative process that’s making commentary on where we are In America after this 18 months of crisis,” she added.

Under one of the most stringent and comprehensive Covid policies in the Upstate, rehearsals have been “an immensely pleasurable experience” for Elser. “Everyone has been really ready to get back to theatre.”

Other Greenville-area theatres have re-opened recently with varying capacity levels and vastly divergent Covid-safety measures, Glow, South Carolina’s only summer opera and musical theatre festival, is taking the pandemic quite seriously to ensure the saftey of their production team, cast members and audiences.

In addition to presenting less costly productions with fewer cast members and in a larger venue, all due to Covid conditions, Glow has maintained a comprehensive plan from the beginning of this crisis.

“When we made the decision in March about what we were going to do before the summer, we could never have predicted we could be dealing with a surge and am really glad to have the help of a Covid consultant out of safety for our cast and our audience,” Jenna says.

“Our audience our capacity cut in half and social distancing and requiring mask for everyone regardless of vaccination, and an air filtration system that runs hourly.”

For the cast and crew, vaccinations are required, with testing every week, and masking up until dress rehearsals.

“We want to be careful and make it to opening night and mitigate the risks,” she says, with a silent prayer in her voice. “Vaccines were a comfort and the risk of illness is low but we are taking all precautions.”

The second summer show is Passione, starring two internationally recognized artists: tenor Hugo Vera (a Glow veteran) from The Metropolitan Opera and soprano Marina Harris (a Simpsonville native) from the San Francisco Opera.

“Besides being wonderful opera stars, they are singing their favorite arias and duets and regaling us with their stories of Passione, how their lives have been touched by music, and sharing and being vulnerable with you,” says Elser.

The third season program is close to the heart of Jenna and husband co-founder Christian Elser – literally. The Jenna & Christian Show is a humorous and intimate cabaret highlighting the Elsers’ charming love story.

“Christian and I were so excited about us doing this show. Our patrons have been clamoring for us s to do this for some time,” she says. “We have some very funny, heartwarming stories from how we met and fun memories from our milestones with Glow.”

And for the company’s Broadway classic fans, the duo will cover some of their favorite tunes from the liked of South Pacific, Camelot, and Annie Get Your Gun.

“This season we are holding nothing back, especially after being dark for over a year. Our
shows are completely original, they’re personal, they’ll have live musicians, and they’ll celebrate
our human connection,” says Christian Elser. “We will, as always, be
producing at the high artistic level audiences expect from Glow.”

Like many arts-producing organizations in the Upstate still in shellshock from the Covid pandmeic, Jenna Elsers says Glow has “a long way to go as we emerge and heal from the past year and half” and encourages safe support for all arts groups. “We hope that people realize that if you don’t support your local theatre or donate in lieu of buying tickets, theatres are in trouble.”

In an effort to connect these productions to actionable change in the Greenville community,
Glow will also partner with mental health awareness organization Walt’s Waltz for the 2021 Season.

And Theatre workers, ROCK OPERA Industry Night is FRIDAY, AUGUST 20 @ 7:30 pm. Phone Reservation preferred at (864) 558-4569.

ROCK OPERA runs August 19, 20, 21, 27 & 28 at 7:30 pm, August 22 & 29 at 3 pm
PASSIONE runs August 25 at 7:30 pm and August 28 at 3 pm
THE JENNA & CHRISTIAN SHOW runs August 26 & 29 at 7:30 pm

Purchase tickets by phone: 864-558-4569 or online at https://glowlyric.com/summer-festival-season/
Performances are at the Fred Collins Performing Arts Center at Greenville’s Kroc Center at 424 Westfield St.

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