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Memorial Auditorium offering diverse 2014-'15 season

WORTHINGTON — It’s June, not January, but Memorial Auditorium Performing Arts Center (MAPAC) Manager Tammy Makram is celebrating a whole new year.

“Tickets are now on sale for our 2014-’15 season, and we’re very excited about it,” confirmed Makram.

With Makram less than six months into her position, several changes are in store for MAPAC patrons, and she hopes the general public will be as enthusiastic about developments as she is.

“We are within a week of being online for ticket purchases, so people can soon buy tickets at the website,” Makram shared. “Of course, our box office continues to be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday, and phone calls are also welcome.”

Another change is that the MAPAC-supporting organization, Friends of the Auditorium (FOTA), is now offering memberships with multiple benefits at all donor levels.

“This is the first year people can become FOTA members with contributions, and benefits range from 10 percent ticket discounts to free event passes to program recognition to chances for advance ticket purchases,” Makram listed.

“Membership is a way to lend more financial support to Memorial Auditorium, but also will provide a sense of belonging and ownership in the facility,” she continued.

“Memorial Auditorium is one of our community’s greatest assets, and we want everyone to feel like they belong here.”

Some changes in corporate sponsorships have also been made; Makram and box office manager Janene Winters are eager to share details about that, as well as about membership offers, with all interested parties.

The varied shows Makram has lined up are designed to appeal to multiple generations and diverse tastes, and the season runs from July through May.

Here’s a brief run-down on the upcoming entertainment:

* July 11: Justin Shandor appears as “The Ultimate Elvis,” a title Graceland officials approved for him.

“This is a huge deal because typically Justin plays Vegas or larger venues,” said Makram.

“Last year he did two, 2,000-seat sold-out shows at Jackpot Junction, and the second show was added due to high demand.

“When he was on the David Letterman Show, Letterman had him perform twice because he was amazed at Justin’s skill.”

* Aug. 2: The LightSwitch Christian Band, a bilingual (Spanish/English) Christian indie band that’s been featured at the Sioux Falls, S.D., LifeLight Festival.

“Several people had mentioned LifeLight as something teens really enjoy, and that’s where LightSwitch came from,” Makram explained. “LightSwitch has toured all over the world, and we hope they’ll draw in both a younger and more diverse audience than we sometimes see.”

* Sept. 27: “Corn off the Cob: Few Kernels Short of an Ear.” The annual variety show highlights area talent and performers, as does the March 28 homegrown “Gone Country X.”

“Judie Wendt Johnson is organizing ‘Corn off the Cob,’ and Cindy Anderson is pulling together ‘Gone Country,’ which will feature the best of the last 10 years of the shows,” said Makram.

* Oct. 25: A Tribute to the Eagles with the Fabulous Armadillos.

“This group has performed in past years at the Palace Theatre in Luverne to sold-out houses, and it’s very exciting to bring it here,” she added.

* Nov. 15: “The Things They Carried,” a one-man play adapted for stage by Jim Stowell (who is married to Worthington native Jessica Zuehlke) based on the Pulitzer Prize-nominated book by Worthington native Tim O’Brien.

“When we learned the History Theatre of St. Paul was taking this play on the road, it seemed like Worthington was the natural place to bring this show,” Makram said. “Tim O’Brien mentions Worthington in the book, and it’s also mentioned in the play.

“Veterans may attend this show for free, courtesy of the Friends of the Auditorium, but they still need to call or stop in to reserve a ticket.”

* Dec. 31: The Chipper Lowell New Year’s Eve Comedy & Magic Show will bring a family flavor to this most adult of holidays.

“We wanted something different for New Year’s Eve, and this is an all-ages comedy and magic show,” shared Makram.

“This guy is incredible, and when you see him, he reminds you of Chris Farley,” she added. “He’s been all over, on TV and in movies, and has been selected as the comedian/magician of the year by numerous organizations.

“We’re really lucky to get him here.”

* April 11: Michael Martin Murphey brings “Wildfire on the Prairie” to Worthington.

“His most famous song is ‘Wildfire,’ and it’s hard to explain, but once Murphey starts to sing and tell his stories, you don’t even realize time is passing,” attested Makram, who saw him play to a standing-room-only crowd about seven years ago in Luverne.

“He’s one of those performers that once you have heard him, you never want to miss another of his shows again.”

* May 2: Branson on the Road “comes highly recommended by people who’ve seen this show in Pipestone,” said Makram. “They put on an amazing Branson-style variety show.

“If you’ve ever been to Branson, you’ll love this, or if you haven’t gotten there but want to, it’s coming right to you.” 

Makram points out that the performers in this group are seen as “Midwest Country” on the RFD television channel, and as “Kelly’s Kountry Junction” on PBS, if people want to check them out before next spring.

“We really want to encourage everyone who’s on Facebook to ‘like’ the Friends of the Auditorium Facebook page, so that when we put up information on events, offer promotions or add additional events, they’ll easily be notified about them,” suggested Makram.

“And if people are willing to share their email addresses with us, we will be sending out a monthly online newsletter to remind people of upcoming shows and share more information about all the great things that are going on at the Auditorium.”

The box office at the Memorial Auditorium Performing Arts Center, located at 714 13th St., Worthington, is open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information about Friends of the Auditorium membership or 2014-15 show dates, times and prices, call 376-9101; visit; “like” Friends of the Auditorium on Facebook; or email