Just imagine a fun night out watching live, dynamic entertainment while supporting up and coming local talent and a good cause. If you’re in Orange County and looking for an entertaining live show, this could often involve a long drive to Los Angeles – in congested traffic. But now, with ensembles like Chapman University’s theater show Chapman Celebrates, top notch entertainment can be found right here in our very own backyards.

Directed by dance professor Alicia Guy, Chapman Celebrates is a 35 year old production formerly known as American Celebration. It is also the school’s largest fundraiser and has since become an annual, institution of sorts for the university. Over the years the production has raised more than $28 million for scholarships from ticket sales as well as from noteable donors who attend the show’s black-tie gala and dance held on the second night. The shows opening night is less formal and open to the general public.

The production has long been described as a love letter to the history of musical theater, with it’s song and dance homage to Broadway and Americana. While some of these elements may still remain, the latest production is expected to move in a new direction by adding some contemporary music and movements.

Tens of performers have been rehearsing dillegently, with dancers having less than two weeks to learn all of the material, essentially having to master a new routine each night. To pull off such an undertaking the entire college of the performing arts department is also recruited to be a part of this showcase. They have even gone so far as to include the once school President Jim Doti in a song and dance number each year. However with new president Daniele Struppa succeeding Doti as president   this year, it remains to be seen if or how Struppa might carry on the Presidential performing torch.

As students and faculty prepare for this long running show’s debut in the newly opened Musco Center for the Arts this Friday, audiences should be prepared to be delighted and entertained with a new twist down an old, familiar road.