January 31, 2018

VSU Theatre and Dance Presents “Planets View from the Hubble Space Telescope” Feb. 2-3

VALDOSTA — Valdosta State University Theatre and Dance will help children discover the wonders of the universe when it presents “Planets View from the Hubble Space Telescope,” the 2017-2018 season’s Theatre for Young Audiences touring production.

Written, directed, and choreographed by Melissa Pihos, assistant professor of dance at VSU, “Planets View from the Hubble Space Telescope” is an original dance production that tells the story of Hubble, short for the Hubble Space Telescope, as she says goodbye to her friends, the planets, and prepares to leave space.

“I had a telescope at a very young age, and I was always into the moon and stars and planets,” said Pihos, who at one time taught astronomy. “I thought it’d be cool to create a story where you learn about the planets through the eyes of the Hubble Space Telescope.”

The Hubble Space Telescope was launched into space in 1990 to photograph stars, galaxies, and planets. It has led to numerous breakthroughs in the study of the universe. The telescope will be decommissioned and replaced with more advanced technology in coming years.

As Hubble narrates her farewell tour in “Planets View from the Hubble Space Telescope,” the planets are brought to life through movement and colorful personalities — Neptune, the windiest planet, whirls around a huge fan while Pluto is constantly confused about whether or not she is actually a planet. 

“As she visits each planet, you also learn about Hubble and what she does,” Pihos said. 

The production features ballet and contemporary dance as well as a suite of classical music titled “The Planets” that was created by English composer Gustav Holst in the early 1900s.

“This production is for a younger audience, but I believe everyone can find something they enjoy about it,” said Megan Foose, a dance major from Waukesha, Wisconsin, who expects to graduate in May. She will perform the roles of Venus and Jupiter in “Planets View from the Hubble Space Telescope.”

“It has several wonderful aspects, including a variety of dance styles, beautiful costumes that fit each planet’s characteristics and personalities, and so many interesting facts about the Hubble Space Telescope and each of the planets,” she said.

Public performances are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 2, and 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 3, in Sawyer Theatre, located on the first floor of the VSU Fine Arts Building. The production is presented in one act with no intermission and lasts approximately 40 minutes.

Following the weekend’s on-campus performances, VSU Theatre and Dance will kick off its Theatre for Young Audiences area tour, which typically includes 15 to 20 performances at schools, art centers, and more throughout South Georgia and North Florida. 

The goal of VSU’s annual Theatre for Young Audiences production is to expose children in the rural South to live theatrical performances. The touring productions are also an opportunity for VSU to share with the children the importance of post-secondary education.

“We like to have an interactive presence with the surrounding community, and when students see things live on stage instead of just watching a movie or looking at pictures, they tend to be more engaged and learn more,” Pihos said.

Theatre for Young Audiences productions are primarily geared toward boys and girls in kindergarten through fifth grade. 

“The students are excited and engaged by the performances,” said Jacque Wheeler, artistic director of VSU Theatre and Dance. “We provide educational materials for pre- and post-performance activities. Many, many places ask us to return, which speaks to the popularity and educational value of the performances.”

Individual tickets for the public performances of “Planets View from the Hubble Space Telescope” are $17 for adults, $14 for senior citizens, $11 for children and non-VSU students, and free for all VSU students with a valid 1Card. Tickets for groups of 10 or more people at a single performance are $10 per person.

Tickets may be reserved by calling the VSU Theatre and Dance Box Office at (229) 333-5973 between the hours of 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday or by visiting www.ticketreturn.com 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The VSU Theatre and Dance Box Office is located on the first floor of the Fine Arts Building, at the intersection of Oak Street and Brookwood Drive.

VSU Theatre and Dance is committed to fostering excellence within its theatre performance, theatre production, theatre management, musical theatre, and dance programs while also contributing to the lifelong learning and cultural development of the citizens of South Georgia, North Florida, and beyond. Its 2017-2018 performance season continues throughout the spring semester with “Book of Days” and “All Shook Up.”

Contact Jacque Wheeler at (229) 253-2914 or jwheeler@valdosta.edu, or Melissa Pihos at (229) 333-5828 or mppihos@valdosta.edu, to learn more.

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