Local News: SEMO’s River Campus Sees Increase in “Cinderella” Ticket Sales (03/02/22)

Kenneth L. Stilson Friday, February 18, 2022 The updated production of “Cinderella” by Rodgers and Hammerstein performed February 15-19 at Southeast Missouri State University’s River Campus.

Kenneth L. Stilson

Southeast Missouri State University’s production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella” saw ticket sales the school hasn’t seen since the 2014-15 production of “The King and I.”

Ticket sales at SEMO’s River Campus have continued to surge since the start of the pandemic, when Bedell’s performance venue was limited to 20% capacity. “Cinderella” sold 3,000 tickets during its five-day run. Rhonda Weller-Stilson, dean of Holland College of Arts at SEMO, said community support helped make the school’s latest production a “Cinderella story”.

“‘Nine to Five’ has hit the bottom percentile since we opened here at the River Campus. Ticket sales were around 780 and our capacity is only around 904 for a normal house and can go up to to 965, depending on the setup,” Stilson said. “I’m extremely happy to say that ‘Cinderella’ did nearly as well as ‘The King and I’ during the 2014-2015 school year, where we brought in more than $50,000.”

The highest-grossing productions presented by the school include “Mary Poppins”. “Peter Pan” and “Grease”. Members of the theater department recognize that well-known shows produce higher ticket sales, however, the program seeks to produce student performances that challenge literature, such as works by Shakespeare.

“We try to provide a wide variety of entertainment and intellectual stimulation not only for our students, but also for our community and our customers,” Stilson said. “The school is really the center of the city for arts and entertainment. We have the Show Me Center and other than community theater, I don’t think anyone does theater.”

Carlos Vargas, president of Southeast, updated the college’s “Protect the Nest” plan at the start of the spring semester, allowing Bedell Performance Hall to accommodate a theater at full capacity. Ellen Farrow, business manager of Holland College of Arts, has noticed a difference in clientele since the policy change.

“Even with our fall shows, you could see some hesitation in people and that’s completely understandable. But I’m really happy to see the tides turning on public health and people feeling more comfortable and safe to go out and see the shows and support us,” Farrow said.

The next River Campus production is “The Spitfire Grill”. which is directed, designed, managed and starred by students and has a PG-13 rating due to mild adult language. The show runs from March 3-6 and tickets are $15.

For more information on upcoming shows at River Campus or to purchase tickets, visit its website at www.semo.edu/river-campus-events/index.html.