March 22, 2004

Vaudeville show comes to campus

By Sally Corbett

In 2003, a generous gift from the Coca-Cola Foundation established the Emory Coca-Cola Artist-In-Residence Series, providing funds for artist fees, expenses and other activities to develop the multiyear program.

Through the series, artists whose work reflects international and diverse cultural dimensions perform and teach, both at Emory and off campus, in conjunction with partnering organizations. The series began earlier this semester with music residencies and continues with a performance of "The Great Nickelodeon Show" on March 24 that combines film, music and theater.

"Emory is grateful to the Coca-Cola Foundation for supporting the University's efforts to enhance the cultural life of the greater Atlanta community," said President Jim Wagner. "Through this generous gift, the Emory Coca-Cola Artists-in-Residence Program will increase the depth and diversity of performing arts education in Atlanta and provide Atlantans with the opportunity for meaningful contact with prominent artists and arts scholars from around the world."

"Similar artists-in-residence programs exist in top universities and arts institutions throughout the world, but none of this scale existed in Atlanta--until now," said Rosemary Magee, senior associate dean of Emory College and executive director of the University's Steering Committee for the Arts. "The gift enables the arts at Emory and the Schwartz Center to deepen an already strong commitment to scholarship and outreach to the community through the arts."

"The Great Nickelodeon Show" will hearken back to an entertainment sensation of the early 1900s, a genre that launched the careers of such film greats as Mary Pickford and Charlie Chaplin. Beginning in 1904, audiences attended nickelodeon theaters--admission typically cost a nickel--for a range of multifaceted, colorful and often unusual entertainment experiences. Programs usually incorporated film, vaudeville performers, illustrated songs, improvised piano, hand-colored slides, cartoons and dramatic sketches. Adding to the amusement, theatergoers often were invited to sing along.

The show's director and producer, Russell Merritt, teaches in the film studies program at University of California-Berkeley. The company's music director and pianist is Richard "Scrumbly" Koldewyn, known for his theater scores and as first tenor and arranger for The Jesters, an award-winning vocal trio specializing in music of the 1920s and '30s.

The nine-member touring company draws on talent from throughout the United States to create their 12-part namesake production featuring songs, hand-colored slide illustrations and films, actors interacting with or creating voiceovers for animated and silent films, a "micrography" film shot through a microscope, live acts, a French film, and The Great Train Robbery (the first narrative film).

Theater Emory will co-present the touring production of "The Great Nickelodeon Show" at 8 p.m., Wednesday, March 24, in the Performing Arts Studio. Tickets are free for the Emory community ($5 for others) and can be ordered by calling 404-727-5050 or visiting .