The award-winning musical “Cross that River” comes to the Gracie Theater at Husson University


Complementing the free morning is a question-and-answer session on themes from the musical, Underground Railroad art, video, and student written compositions.

BANGOR — Coming straight from Broadway to the Gracie Theater comes the award-winning musical “Cross That River.” This is the story of a runaway slave turned black cowboy. The cast includes acclaimed jazz composer Allan Harris and five other exceptional performers. The musical, based on real events, will have two performances. The first will be an abridged 50-minute version at the Gracie Theater on Friday, January 28 at 1 p.m. for the Husson campus community. The second performance of the complete two-act musical will take place at 7 p.m. at the same location and is open to the public.

“Residents of the Greater Bangor area love musicals and we are thrilled to present a musical to help kick off Black History Month on our campus! The musical brings to life an unknown aspect of the history of our country. With a range of musical styles, this show offers something for fans of all musical styles,” said Jeri Misler, General Artistic Director of the Gracie Theatre.

“Cross That River” combines a variety of elements drawn from Native American musical genres, including jazz, country and folk music. In addition to being historical and educational, the musical is both extremely moving and entertaining.

In this story, the unstable West of the 1860s offers new life and new dreams to Blue, a runaway slave from Louisiana. He escaped slavery in Texas to become one of America’s first black cowboys. With each song in this musical’s highly infectious score, audiences are moved further into Blue’s harrowing journey, including his crossing of the Sabine River to freedom in the Wild West. Each song tells a unique story. Sometimes these stories are joyful, while others are tragic. Overall, the musical serves as a poignant chronicle of enduring perseverance.

In addition to being entertaining, the 1 p.m. matinee show provides members of the Husson campus community with a valuable educational experience. After the show, University history professor Dr. David Haus will lead a question and answer session on the themes of the musical.

Additionally, Kathi Smith, associate professor of art in the University’s College of Science and Humanities, is working with librarian Shelly Davis to create an art display in the library that highlights the themes of the room. Student art in this exhibit will focus on the Underground Railroad and other material available in the library from this historical period.

Dr. Maria Cahill, Associate Professor of English, will share student-written compositions on topics related to Black History Month in the Darling Atrium (also known as the Gracie Theater Lobby) prior to the performance of 1 p.m. Dr. Haus also arranged for a video to be shown with relevant content during the daytime and evening performances. This recorded presentation will further enhance the audience’s introduction to the themes of the play.

Tickets for the full two-act version of “Cross That River” at 7 p.m. are only $23.50. at $34.50 and can be purchased by calling the Gracie Theater box office at 207-941-7888. They can also be purchased on the theater’s website at GracieTheatre.com.

No tickets are required for the 1 p.m. matinee performance. It is free for members of the Husson University campus community.

Gracie’s season is made possible through the support of Bangor Savings Bank. The theater also thanks the generous support provided throughout the season by other show sponsors, including Downeast Toyota, Governor’s Restaurant and Bakery, The Mimi Foundation and Pepsi.

Completed in October 2009, The Gracie is Husson University’s center for fine and performing arts. This magnificent 500-seat theater is considered one of Maine’s premier performance venues. In addition, The Gracie also serves as a learning platform for New England School of Communications students in digital audio, sound mixing, set design and construction, lighting, acting, and electronics.

For more than 120 years, Husson University has shown its adaptability and strength in delivering educational programs that prepare future leaders to meet the challenges of tomorrow through innovative undergraduate and graduate degrees. With a commitment to providing affordable classroom, online, and experiential learning opportunities, Husson University has become a top value in higher education. Characteristics of a Husson education include advanced knowledge delivered through quality corporate educational programs; health and education; pharmacy studies; sciences and humanities; as well as communication. According to an analysis of tuition and fees by US News & World Report, Husson University is one of the most affordable private colleges in New England. For more information on educational opportunities that can lead to personal and professional success, visit Husson.edu.

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