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Thursday, April 29, 2004 05:22 pm

Backstage pass 4-29-04

Peter Samuel (right) performs Saturday at the Center for the Arts

The new Center for the Arts is showcasing the talents of its tenants with a gala on Saturday, May 1. Titled "Beyond Our Dream," the fundraiser and celebration features performances running simultaneously on all three floors of the building, including two hour-long concert performances of Les Misérables on the Mainstage at 8 and 10 p.m.

Peter Samuel, who played the role of Javert on in the Broadway production of Les Mis, is featured in the Center's production, which will include soloists and a 100-voice chorus. Samuel got his start at Springfield's Muni Opera. He's appeared on Broadway in The Secret Garden, The Producers, Joseph, and Parade.

Other performances at the Center will feature the Springfield Ballet Company, the Noonan Jazz Band, the Sangamon Valley Youth Symphony, and the St. Andrews Pipes and Drums, accompanied by Scottish dancers. A silent auction and dance are also planned.

Perhaps the most eye-opening art at Saturday's event will come from local composer and artist David Cain, whose Umedia-- short for "unbroken media" -- has taken up residency at the Center.

Cain spent three years playing saxophone in Manhattan's Times Square in the early '80s. His favorite spot, he recalls, was near the Marriott Marquis Hotel: "The sound had such a resonance there with all that concrete. The reverb was just beautiful."

These days, Cain's goal is to bring all of the arts together. "As a composer and a performer, I want to use the art and media of all the arts as part of my palette," he says.

Cain is premiering three works during Saturday's event. The first, "East Meets West #9" (in Theatre 2), features music by Cain, animation, voice, and two Springfield Ballet Company dancers (Gina Troppa and Caitlin Helton). The Rumi poem "Bittersweet" is featured in the piece.

In the first-floor Gallery, Cain presents a music-and-video electronic soundscape titled "Oceans of Grace," featuring underwater footage Cain took while in San Diego.

And in the third-floor Club Room, Cain's "What Do I Want to Dream?" features musicians as well as the Land of Lincoln Barbershop Quartet and the Sound Celebration Chorus. Local actor Dennis Rendleman will recite from the works of writer and diarist Anaïs Nin.

Tickets to the 2004 Center for the Arts gala, which begins at 7 p.m., cost $50. For information, call 523-2787.

• Next week, the Springfield Theatre Centre hosts the Midwest premiere of the stage adaptation of popular children's book Holes. Eighth-grader Sam Germann plays the lead role in the show, which runs May 7-9 and 14-16. Jason Goodreau directs. For tickets, call 523-0878.

• The Center for the Arts is the venue for the premiere next week of George Heroux's One More for the Road. Heroux describes his play, which runs May 7-8 and May 14-16, as a drama featuring "ironic comedy" that examines the moral and legal issues involved in drunken-driving cases. The plot revolves around a prosecutor who takes on a defense attorney who has never lost a case and a comedian who thinks drunks are funny. The subject matter is familiar to Heroux, the senior victim advocate for Mothers Against Drunk Driving Illinois. For tickets, call the Springfield Center for the Arts at 523-2787.

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