Stage & Dance

A night on Broadway without leaving Lexington: UK’s annual singing and dancing extravaganza

‘There is something for everyone’ at It’s A Grand Night for Singing

It's A Grand Night for Singing, which will be performed by the UK Opera Theatre June 7-16, is a show with a collection of songs from popular musicals and shows, offering something for a wide audience to enjoy.
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It's A Grand Night for Singing, which will be performed by the UK Opera Theatre June 7-16, is a show with a collection of songs from popular musicals and shows, offering something for a wide audience to enjoy.

Before a single note was sung at the inaugural “It’s a Grand Night for Singing” performance 27 years ago, the event’s creator and director of the University of Kentucky Opera Theatre Everett McCorvey had to take the stage to issue an apology to those in attendance.

“We had to hold the house for 20 minutes because we had 200 people in line trying to get tickets,” he recalled with a glint of joy and pride in his voice. “I had to say, I’m sorry, but I’m not sorry.”

What started as a single well-attended performance grew to the point where “It’s a Grand Night for Singing” took up multiple nights and eventually two full weekends of performances centered around talent from both the UK campus and the community putting on a Broadway-level showcase. This year’s show is no different as the event will take place June 7-9 and June 14-16 at the Singletary Center for the Arts.

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Soloist Logan Spears performed ‘Run, Freedom, Run!’ From “Urinetown.” “It’s A Grand Night for Singing” is set to perform its’ 27th show. Matt Goins

McCorvey arrived on the UK campus a year before and wanted to create an event that would enhance Lexington’s musical theatre offerings while also giving those involved with the production a taste of the career possibilities of theatre and the hustle and bustle that goes into preparing for and performing a Broadway show. From the first rehearsal to opening night, McCorvey said everything comes together in only five weeks.

“I mean, it’s fast ... but that’s the whole purpose of it,” he said. “To see what they’re capabilities are because a lot of times, these kids don’t know they have such capabilities.”

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Everett McCorvey came up with the idea for “It’s a Grand Night for Singing” 28 years ago.

What McCorvey believes was key to the event’s initial success was its placement on the calendar when there was downtime between college graduation and the summer theatrical season. What has led to the event consistently growing is everything that goes into it, whether it is the handful on the event’s creative team that spends a year developing the event, the 30-piece orchestra or the 90 total performers (60 adults and 30 students.)

The theme for this year’s performance will be “Billboard on Broadway” and will feature songs from everything from popular musicals like “Hamilton” and “Grease” to “Phantom of the Opera” and “A Star is Born.” As in years past, there will be plenty of dancing with the help of professional choreographer Grady Bowman, as well as Peggy Stamps as Stage Director.

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One of the performances was a song from “Hamilton” Tuesday during a dress rehearsal for UK Opera Theatre’s “It’s A Grand Night for Singing” at Singletary Center for the Arts. This year’s event features 38 numbers. Matt Goins

“It’s a Grand Night for Singing” continues to impress those who are seeing it for the first time or the 27th, which McCorvey said can be chalked up to the talent, effort and passion of everyone involved.

“I think the reason people continue to come back is we have put together a very, very high-quality show,” McCorvey said. “The thing people tell me when I see them is they realize they can go to our show and feeling like you are on Broadway for an evening.”

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Soloist Logan Spears performed ‘Run, Freedom, Run!’ From “Urinetown” with the ensemble Tuesday during a dress rehearsal for UK Opera Theatre’s “It’s A Grand Night for Singing” at Singletary Center for the Arts. Matt Goins

“It’s a Grand Night for Singing”

When: 7:30 p.m. June 7, 8, 14 and 15; 2 p.m. June 9 and 16

Tickets: $15 for students, $40-$50 seniors, $45-$55 adults

Where: Singletary Center for the Arts, 405 Rose St.

Call: 859-257-4929

Online: finearts.uky.edu/singletary-center

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