Centenary presents workshop performance of “Yeltsin in Texas!”

SHREVEPORT, LA — Students from Centenary’s Hurley School of Music will present two workshop performances of the new musical Yeltsin in Texas! this week. Performances are Friday, November 19, and Saturday, November 20, at 7:30 p.m. in Anderson Auditorium at the Hurley School. A post-show talkback with the composer, Dr. Evan Mack and librettist, Joshua McGuire, will immediately follow the show on opening night.

Tickets for Yeltsin in Texas! are $5 for community members and free for Centenary students, faculty, and staff. All tickets must be reserved in advance at showtix4u.com/event-details/58939. A live stream of the performances will also be available through the Centenary College Facebook page at centenary.edu/yeltsin.

All attendees must provide either a Centenary ID, proof of vaccination, or proof of recent (within the last 90 days) recovery from COVID-19. All attendees must wear masks.

Yeltsin in Texas! is set in the year 1989. In a suburban Houston supermarket, we meet the Clerk, who moonlights as a rockstar and dreams of something more, as well as his colleague and love interest, the ambitious Manager who wants to make Regional Manager. The Manager has received word that a top Soviet leader will be visiting their grocery store. Also present in the store is the Rent-a-Cop, a deeply religious and closeted man, who is convinced that his work in the supermarket is key to winning the war on Communism.

These colorful characters soon meet a drunk Boris Yeltsin who stumbles into the store and passes out. When he comes to, we learn that he is unimpressed by things he has seen previously in New York City and at the Johnson Space Center. It comes to light that Yeltsin fears his trip may be a failure, but his experiences in this average American grocery store prove surprising and transformative for all the characters.

Yeltsin in Texas! was originally commissioned as a one-act comic opera by Opera in The Heights (Houston) and Texas Christian University,” explained librettist Joshua McGuire. “After a workshop performance of the opera, we were approached by Broadway producers about expanding the opera into a musical, and used the performance hiatus of the COVID pandemic to work on this massive revision. Centenary College's performance is the first public rendering of that draft - Yeltsin in Texas! The Musical."

Dr. Janani Sridhar, assistant professor of music at Centenary, performed the role of the Manager during the operatic premiere of Yeltsin in Texas! in 2020.

“I had such a great time working on the show, and with Evan and Josh,” said Sridhar. “I knew the students would learn a lot from the process of workshopping a new piece, as well as gain insight into the world of contemporary music. The performance is semi-staged, and a barrel of laughs. I am thrilled that Josh and Evan will be joining us for a post-show talkback on opening night, and I am excited for the students and community to engage with the creators on a personal level."

Sridhar is directing Centenary’s workshop performance of Yeltsin in Texas!. Dr. Cory Wikan, dean of the Hurley School of Music, is conducting and Dr. Gay Grosz, assistant professor of music, is accompanying the performance on piano.


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