A mighty trumpet, plenty of student talent and a “shim-sham here and there” — per Doc Severinsen himself — capped a flurry of artistic expression Sunday in celebration of the Joseph A. W. Clayes III Performing Arts Center’s 10th anniversary.
Cal State Fullerton President Mildred García and College of the Arts Dean Dale Merrill thanked former CSUF President Milton Gordon and the late Jerry Samuelson, the college’s former dean, for their vision and inspiration behind the venue. Referring to García, Merrill added, “I’m thankful to have a president who really supports the arts.”
With students Jose Zamarripa and Cody Bianchi, theatre arts alumnus Marc Cherry filled Meng Concert Hall with “One More Walk Around the Garden” to tip his hat to one of his favorite professors of theatre and dance, Dean Hess, who introduced him to Broadway “flop” songs.
“The theatre department was the site of some of the favorite moments of my life,” said the creator of “Desperate Housewives.”
Praised by Merrill — “such an educator and such a spokesperson for this art form” — Severinsen joined the Fullerton Jazz Orchestra and its director, Bill Cunliffe, in an array of jazz tunes. The trumpeter and former bandleader of “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson,” clad in one of his trademark fashion statements, praised the CSUF musicians and shared with a captivated audience: “I’m not really getting any better, but I’m getting louder.”
Soprano Vanessa Thomas joined them onstage for “Mood Indigo” and other melodies before Severinsen led the Cal State Fullerton Jazz Orchestra in one last song — Count Basie’s “Jumping at the Woodside.”
A flurry of activity preceded the concert as part of the open house-style celebration at Clayes. Dancers flitted about at the Dhont Family Foundation Dance Studio as the Bennet sisters giggled and gossiped in a scene from “Pride and Prejudice” at the James D. Young Theatre. In the William J. McGarvey Family Dance Studio, Susan Hallman, professor emeritus of theatre and dance, shared the history of the performing arts center, while students’ artwork filled the Millie and Dale Hallberg Theatre. The busy afternoon event commemorated the people who made possible a center of such caliber for the practice and academic success of Cal State Fullerton students.
Said master of music student Jason Pano: “I went to several schools as an undergraduate student, and none of them had a performance facility like this.”