Liva Arts Celebrates 20th Anniversary with Performance

04/07/10

The tradition of University of Scranton students performing through Liva Arts is now two decades old. In celebration of their 20th anniversary, the Liva Arts Company will present The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee April 15 to 18.

A 20th Anniversary Reception will be held on Saturday, April 17, from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Heritage Room on the fifth floor of the Weinberg Memorial Library, before the company’s Saturday evening performance.

Josephine Dunn, Ph.D., associate professor of history, remembers when the Liva Arts House was founded in 1990. Dr. Larry Morton, the director of Residence Life at the time, approached Dr. Dunn about establishing an Arts and Music House. Dr. Dunn fell in love with a University-owned residence at 112 Vine St., then called the York House.

“The house was magnificent, representative of an era in Scranton when architecture thrived and the city was ambitious for its future,” said Dr. Dunn, an art historian who recognized the house featured “tile from Italy, crystal chandeliers and lighting fixtures of the early 20th century.”

The house was quickly named after the previous owner, Anne Vanko Liva, a long-time pianist and music teacher.

In 1990, Liva Arts House students performed for the first time.

“William Monaghan, musician and composer, was one of the founding students of Liva House,” said Dr. Dunn. “He came up with the idea to perform a musical and our first production - later to become our signature production - Godspell. The house was filled with Hosannas, Long Live God, Yes, it’s all for the best… Much to our surprise, we filled Gunster auditorium each night that we performed.”

The play was such a success that it became a tradition for the house to perform. 

In 2003, the Liva House changed form. When Residence Life closed Liva House because of insufficient student enrollment, the students formed the Liva Arts Company and the performances continued.

“This was the finest tribute they could have paid to the traditions established by Liva House students in 1990,” said Dr. Dunn.

The Liva Arts Company performances of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee begin at 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, April 15-17, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 18. The performances will be held in Jefferson Auditorium of Leahy Hall. General admission is $10 and $5 for students, faculty, staff and senior citizens. For additional information, call 941-4266.

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