CHARLESTON — The intimate setting of the Dvorak Concert Hall is one of the factors that drew 1980s movie icon Molly Ringwald to bring her debut tour as a jazz singer to the Doudna Fine Arts Center.
Ringwald took full advantage of this setting Wednesday evening as she encouraged approximately half a dozen audience members in the back of the nearly packed hall to move up to a handful of seats that remained empty next to the stage.
“We like to be a cozy, intimate group. Come on down. Don’t be shy,” Ringwald said as she waved to her audience. She then had the Dvorak crew dim the lights for her melancholy rendition of Hoagy Carmichael’s “I Get Along Without You Very Well,” inspired by Jane Brown Thompson’s poem about her late husband.
Ringwald is on tour with a quartet singing songs from her debut album, “Except...Sometimes,” which pays homage to the great American songbook. Ringwald is also scheduled to make a guest appearance with the Eastern Illinois University Jazz Lab Band at 7:30 Thursday night in the Dvorak Concert Hall.
While introducing the musicians in her quartet Wednesday, Ringwald said she also wanted to give credit to the sound system and sound crew at the Dvorak. Ringwald joked that people often feel that they sing better in the shower and that this EIU concert hall has that great acoustic quality on a large scale.
“This is like a dream. You people are very lucky to have this room!” Ringwald exclaimed before singing an upbeat, breezy rendition of “They Say It’s Spring.”
Ringwald, a lifelong fan of jazz and a music theater veteran, demonstrated a commanding presence on stage that was markedly different from the often-insecure teens that she played in John Hughes’ high school classics “Sixteen Candles,” “The Breakfast Club” and “Pretty in Pink.”
The famed performer likely took many in the audience by surprise when she first strode onto the stage wearing a cropped blonde hairdo instead of the trademark red hair that she has worn throughout much of her film and television career.
Ringwald sported a black dress and, initially, a light black sweater that she said she donned because it was cold backstage. She later added that she is more accustomed to the weather where she resides in the Los Angeles area.
“It is cold here. I am a California girl, although I don’t look like it, I am,” Ringwald said with a laugh.
Ringwald was slated to conclude the show Wednesday with her rendition of the Simple Minds’ “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” from the “Breakfast Club” and then sign autographs of her album and her new book, “When It Happens to You,” which were available for purchase at the Fine Arts Center.
Tickets for the EIU Lab Band Concert Thursday night are $5 each. They can be purchased online at www.eiu.edu/doudna or at the Doudna Fine Arts Center Box Office.
Box office hours are 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Friday, and one hour prior to the scheduled performance. For Doudna reservations and information, or to arrange accommodations for those needing special assistance, contact Doudna Fine Art Patron Services at 217-581-3110 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Stroud at email@example.com or 217-238-6861.