Penn State’s Center for the Performing Arts: A Quick Guide for Spring 2022

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The Center for the Performing Arts is a hidden gem on Penn State’s campus. Nestled behind the Huck Life Sciences building, Eisenhower Auditorium is a convenient walk for students who live on campus or in downtown State College. From popular Broadway productions such as “Waitress” and “Hairspray” to musical ensembles and dance troupes, the center is a great place to dip your toe into the arts.

Penn State students receive discounted tickets to events at CPA with their student ID and some events cost nothing at all. The upcoming performance from Delfeayo Marsalis and the Uptown Jazz Orchestra, for example, is free and takes place virtually on Monday, March 21 at noon.  

Don’t miss these other must-see events coming soon to the center!

Mwenso and the Shakes

Mwenso and the Shakes, a jazzy and soulful musical ensemble of globally spanning members, will be performing their show entitled “Hope-Resist-Heal: A Celebration of Black Joy” on Wednesday, March 23, 2022, at 7:30 p.m. 

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Their performances elicit feelings of revitalization and joy — a refreshing shift from the overload of the stress of daily life and the happenings in our world today. Mwenso and the Shakes break down the assumptions many have about jazz music as being stodgy background noise and instead generate an engaging production that all can enjoy. For an even richer experience and insight into the performance, the Center for the Performing Arts will offer a free pre-show discussion with Michael Mwenso at 6:30 p.m. at Eisenhower Auditorium. This event is only $5 for students with a Penn State ID. 

Small Island Big Song

For a more interactive musical experience, head over to 3 Dots Downtown for the Upcycled Instrument Jam Session. It’s a three-hour event starting at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, April 5, 2022 where students can engage in a found music workshop, including a showcase of some original works. Musicians from Small Island Big Song will also be there to discuss the unifying power of music. The following afternoon, you can join a panel discussion with Small Island Big Song about their response to climate change and sustainability. These events are completely free and open to the public, so bring a friend and learn something new. 

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If you can’t make these intimate precursor events, Small Island Big Song will be performing as part of their multimedia concert tour at Eisenhower Auditorium at 7:30 pm on April 7, 2022. Their mission involves creating awareness and sharing their expertise on climate related issues. Similarly to Mwenso and the Shakes, Small Island Big Song is comprised of musicians from a multitude of nations including New Zealand, Taiwan, Australia, Madagascar, Solomon Islands, Mauritius, Marshall Islands, Papa New Guinea, and Tahiti. Their project pays tribute to their own region’s roots while pulling influence from many of the other island nations they have connected with the intent of upholding the cultural traditions of the Pacific and Indian oceans. 

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Musical theatre lovers can enjoy the touring performance of “Hairspray” at the end of the center’s season for one night only on Thursday, April 14, 2022 in Eisenhower Auditorium. Director Jack O’Brien and choreographer Jerry Mitchell, have reunited and reinvigorated the Tony-award-winning musical comedy for modern audiences with the same classic score you know and love. This show is a great option for those who are looking for a Broadway experience without the Broadway price. Penn State students can enjoy the show for a bargain when they show their student ID with tickets priced at $50. Bring a loved one along for a night of music, laughter and theatre. 

The Center for the Performing Arts provides comprehensive performance experiences for students and the surrounding community right here in State College. You don’t want to miss this opportunity to engage in the arts at a generous, discounted price. 

Share your favorite CPA performance with us, @VALLEYmag, on Twitter. 



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