On June 12, Arena Fair Theatre will host a special performance by Hilliard native and Broadway star Jessica Grové titled “Jess & Judy” as part of a fundraiser to help raise money for upgrades to the auditorium inside Willis Education Center at 74 W. William St. in Delaware.
The event, which will be held in the auditorium at Willis, will take place at 2 p.m. Tickets are on sale now at Arenafair.com.
The show is headlined by Grové, who originated the role of Dorothy in the Broadway version of “The Wizard of Oz” and toured nationally with the show.
Arena Fair Artistic Director Greg Patterson said Thursday that Arena Fair has had “a lot of cool events lately but this one is very special,” and he’s thrilled Grové will be performing in Delaware.
“I know this young lady. I’ve known her since she was very small,” Patterson said. “She’s from Hilliard … She took (her singing talent) and made a legendary lifetime out of it. She went on to audition for shows before she had even graduated from high school.”
Grové’s Broadway credits also include roles in “Sunday in the Park with George,” “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” “Les Misérables” and “The Boy Friend.”
Patterson said during Grové’s time in “The Wizard of Oz,” she worked alongside Hollywood actors like Mickey Rooney. He added she will be sharing some of her stories during the event.
“Mickey Rooney loved to talked about the old days,” Patterson said. “She has incorporated (these stories) into her show. She will not just be talking about the great Judy Garland and her career … She is a delightful young lady. Everyone is charmed with her. Everyone who comes to see the show will be charmed with her. She really is Broadway royalty. Talk about ‘local girl does good.’ She has worked with most of the iconic Broadway and Hollywood performers. Enough to make her cred spectacular.”
Patterson added the event is serving as fundraiser to support the ongoing efforts to renovate and improve the Willis auditorium. He said the project is important because Willis is the school where the late Vincente Minnelli — an American stage director and film director — graduated from.
“I’ve been doing my best to raise the city’s consciousness that Minnelli is our most exciting resident,” Patterson said. “I want to continue to bring the Minnelli-Garland connection back to this area, and this is just another step in (that mission.)”
Patterson said bringing a performer of Grové’s caliber to Delaware is a once-in-a-lifetime event.
“For $45 you will be able to sit and listen to some of the most beautiful music this side of the American songbook,” he said. “You will also hear inside stories from Hollywood royalty that have never been heard before. It’s really the best way you could spend a summer afternoon in Delaware, Ohio.”
More information about the event can be found at ArenaFair.com.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.Reach