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Popejoy Hall Helps Bring Albuquerque to New Cultural Heights

By S. Mathur

Popejoy Hall is the leading performing arts venue in the state of New Mexico, and brings residents of Albuquerque an outstanding schedule of theater, dance, music, magic acts, speakers, and comedy from around the world. This season's performances include The Lion King, Much Ado About Nothing, the Irish ensemble Danú, and a Mariachi Christmas.

With a mouthwatering schedule for 2017, which includes Cinderella performed by the Russian National Ballet, the Peking Acrobats and a Bollywood spectacular, as well as Broadway musicals, it makes the city of Albuquerque a cultural hub.

Popejoy Hall is located on the campus of the University of New Mexico.. It is named after a former president, Thomas L. Popejoy, who served from 1948 to 1968. Popejoy Hall was built exactly fifty years ago, in 1966, and has been renovated once since that time. It can seat nearly two thousand people and the acoustics are excellent. In fact, visitors often remark that there isn't a bad seat in the house.

Terry S. Davis, Marketing Manager for Popejoy Hall explains that "Popejoy Hall is the only venue in New Mexico capable of hosting the largest touring Broadway shows, such as Disney's The Lion King, Wicked, The Book of Mormon, and others. In addition to those national tours, we present approximately 20 shows a year."

With the mission to provide access to the performing arts for all New Mexicans, programming covers a wide range. It includes "touring Broadway shows, symphony concerts, musical soloists and artists of international caliber, world-renowned ballet and modern dance companies, and noted speakers from a broad spectrum of disciplines," says Davis.

Popejoy Hall is the largest performing arts venue in New Mexico, but still small enough to bring the audience close to the performers. Davis affirms that the venue "still works to facilitate the connection between artists and audiences, to make it as easy and joyful as we can."

Musicals to be staged in the upcoming season include Matilda The Musical, based on a novel by Roald Dahl; Motown, which tells the story of Berry Gordy who founded the label, and his journey from featherweight boxer to music mogul; and classics like Dirty Dancing and An American in Paris. There's a Tribute to ABBA, an Evening of Classic Lily Tomlin and an Evening With Bernadette Peters.

Also in keeping with the mission to make the performing arts accessible, Popejoy Hall has extensive education and outreach programs for schools, seniors and local communities. These include the Popejoy Schooltime Series, the Senior Program and community outreach via local groups that work with at-risk and under-served communities. The Popejoy Awards recognize the best high school performances of Broadway musicals in New Mexico. Award winners travel to New York City to compete in the National High School Musical Theatre Awards.

Community support in the form of donations and volunteering is essential to sustain the programming. Volunteers can serve as lobby greeters, tickets takers and ushers, merchandise sellers and at the Information Kiosk.

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