How to fight the T-Paw cuts: "We’re getting the band back together"

A small victory in the HCC Theater debate, with a price.

Hibbing Community College Theatre Director Mike Ricci has announced a major HCC Theatre Support Gala, featuring the return of the original Blues Brothers who performed on the HCC Theatre stage in 2004. This event will be held at Hibbing High School Auditorium on Thursday, July 2 at 7:30 p.m. All proceeds go to funding assistance for the HCC Theatre program, which has been hit hard with the recent budget cuts from MNSCU.

In the wake of Mike Ricci’s announcement that he will be leaving HCC to pursue another opportunity down in the Twin Cities, the budget crisis has forced the college to make some difficult decisions. Amidst cutbacks in several areas, the search for a new theatre teacher and director had been suspended. However, with the help of a dedicated task force made up of community and college members, a workable solution has been agreed upon that will allow the college to hire a qualified candidate to take over the program. Since the current budget may still be hit with more cuts, the decision was made to make fundraising a part of this solution, thereby providing some outside revenues should the college not have the necessary funds to cover the theatre program.

”I am happy to see the community come together to arrive at an equitable solution to this crisis,” said Ricci. “The support from people up and down the Iron Range has been amazing. Doing this benefit is our way of showing our thanks, while also allowing people to help out in a tangible way.”

The show will be divided into two acts, with the first half featuring highlights from past HCC Theatre productions, including live performances from the recent hits The Pirates of Penzance, Beauty and the Beast, Phantom, Born Yesterday, and others. The second half will be a concert featuring the entire Blues Brothers Band, and the return of Jake and Elwood Blues, played by Jason Scorich and Jaime Tintor, who will be reprising their roles from the original production. Tintor will be flying in from Los Angeles, where he currently lives and works, to do the show, and both he and Jason are excited about the prospect of doing the show and being re-united on stage once again. When first produced at HCC Theatre in 2004, The Blues Brothers played to sold-out audiences every night, and it was even taken to the Reif Center in Grand Rapids, where it sold out as well. “This is an opportunity to re-live that magic, and to be part of what makes live theatre so special,” said Ricci.

Tickets to this special event are $20 for adults, and $10 for children, students with ID’s and seniors. There will be a goodwill box for donations available at the benefit as well. Tickets can be purchased at The Howard Street Booksellers in downtown Hibbing, Reed Drugs in Grand Rapids and Schmitt Music in downtown Virginia, or they can be reserved through the HCC Theatre Box Office by calling 218-262-7377. If you or anyone else would like to contribute to the Theater program’s fundraising efforts but cannot attend the performance, please consider sending a donation to:

HCC Theater Program
c/o Mike Ricci
1515 East 25th Street
Hibbing, MN 55746

For more information, contact Mike Ricci at (218) 262-7377. Help keep quality live theater alive during these tough times! Thank you.

(Photo: HCC Theater)

Those who’ve been following the saga of the cutbacks to the storied HCC Theater program should know that this is probably the best possible outcome we could get. That means that people need to get to Hibbing and see this show. I will have more on the exciting reunion of the Blues Brothers next week. This will be a LOT of fun. I know it’s a holiday weekend, so if you have a conflict please send in as much money as you can afford. A quarter of Iron Rangers are out of work or on layoff right now so outside help is also appreciated. This is our chance to demonstrate the level of support for HCC Theater. The future of the local arts community hangs in the balance.

Oh, and why the high school auditorium? If you didn’t know the Hibbing H.S. Auditorium is a special place on the Iron Range. The college theater seats just over 300 and the high school seats 1,800. I’m told we need to sell or receive equivalent donations for 1,000 seats for this to work.

Yes, there are many Blues Brothers comparisons to make here and you’ll hear more about that next week.

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