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Arts and Entertainment

Mount Vernon Community Theatre Explores the Great American Songbook

(Photo: Randy Stewart)

Mount Vernon Community Theatre inaugurates a new Songbook Series: "Duets, An Evening of Entertaining Pairs" in three performances in Monett, Mount Vernon and Aurora this weekend.  The impetus for doing such a show, says Matt Teel of MVCT, was borne of necessity. The company normally presents a fully-staged musical during the summer. "But we do share the space (the Mount Vernon Arts and Recreation Center, or 'MARC') with several other groups, including another theater group in Mount Vernon (Rebels Bluff Troupe), and they have the space for this summer. They're going to be doing Rodgers & Hammerstein's Oklahoma! at the end of July.  But our group still wanted to do something.  We have an awful lot of talent that needs to be contained somewhere--we need an outlet.  The board got together, and we tossed around some ideas. One of them was this idea of a 'songbook.' The idea is, you take some selections from the Great American Songbook and put them on stage with some of your talent."

The company held auditions for the show, "but most of the folks are people who work with us regularly," says Matt. "We have folks from Springfield, Monett, Mount Vernon, Aurora, Pierce City, Miller, just folks from all over. Many are involved in theater, but some of them are not--this is something new for them." Most of the duet acts are vocal, but there are a couple of instrumentalists from the Springfield Symphony, who will perform, among other things, a cello duet by Friedrich August Kummer (1797-1879).  Other performers include Andrew Jones; Robin Braun, a voice teacher from Monett; Matt Teel himself will team up with Melanie Kloppenborg; Lori Hazelton; and numerous students from Mount Vernon High School.

The whole program, including a 15-minute intermission, will run less than two hours. Performances are Friday June 17 at 7:00pm in the Monett Performing Arts Center; Saturday June 18 at 7:00pm in the MARC in Mount Vernon; and Sunday June 19 at 3:00pm at Aurora High School. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated. For more information call Kathy Teel or Jan Everett at (417) 313-4104, or email

This is the first of what they're calling a "Songbook Series," and Matt Teel says they have plans for more in the seasons to come.  "We have a couple of other themes that we'd like to explore.  But these are pretty easy to put together, so we might do them more often."