Twenty years ago, university president Frederick Humphries, along with Ronald Davis and Keith Tucker, founded FAMU Connection.
This Wednesday, the Student Government Association and Essential Theatre presents the FAMU Connection Tour 2004, titled In Retrospect, to mark the 20 year anniversary of the original group’s initial idea.
FAMU Connection was formed after an idea Humphries had for out of town football recruitment. He not only had the desire to recruit athletes but also to recruit academic scholars also. Humphries was determined to create an advertisement to sale the University and develop a connection between the community and the University.
Every year, FAMU Connection premieres at the University to kick off its tour with a new theme. The previous theme was “Ain’t No Stopping Us Now.” This year’s theme will take you back in retrospect, presenting pieces from the past 20 years and will show and introduce new things.
“The Rattlers coming, they keep coming,” shouted the proud cast members of FAMU Connection as they loudly marched across the stage in a closed practice session.
The show uses tunes from Motown to Broadway, rewinding from the past to the present history of the University.
Tucker, FAMU Connection co-founder, said being one of the only technical directors in the beginning with the responsibility of costumes and stage lights was not easy.
“The show has grown over the years and no longer are there any technical shortages,” Tucker said laughingly.
As the Connection grew, the cast began traveling to recruit students to attend the University. The Connection has traveled to various destinations, such as Daytona, Orlando, Tampa, Miami and many other places. This year the cast plans to travel to new locations, such as Baltimore and New Orleans.
“There are broad offerings at the University that show the diversity of the student body,” Tucker said. “The show has been successful because people not only dance, but talk to the audience throughout the show. It demonstrates the best art amongst the Rattlers.”
“Dance and change are positive,” said Johnny Williams Jr., FAMU Connection musical director since 1997.
“Schools change to present new opportunities to attract a different audience,” Williams said. “However, the history of dance has never changed.”
“FAMU Connection’s In Retrospect is a high energy show that will leave the audience surprisingly standing on their feet,” said Hector Machado, 21, a fourth year, theatre major from Miami and the new stage manager.
Erin Washington, a 20-year-old cast member from Montgomery, Ala. described the performance as “a collaboration of past connection shows that exhibit talents of African Americans which takes you on an unforgettable journey.”
The show consists of songs and dances that are pieced together to entice the audience into learning background information about the University. Although, the primary focus is to recruit high school and community college students, all Rattler students are encouraged to audition. Auditions consist of monologues, singing, dancing and acting, and they are held in the spring of every year. The auditions are open to any Rattler interested in performing.
“There is not a guaranteed position to any student, but we try to balance the cast members out who major in different fields,” said Luther Wells, director of FAMU Connection. “Being apart of the cast helps the student because they become ambassadors for the school.”
The organization offers opportunities to become positive representatives of the University.
“I enjoy serving as a leader,” Washington said. “Through this experience I am able to expand my knowledge and work on my public speaking skills.”
The cast has diligently rehearsed every day since the week before school started. Determined and enthused about the show, Wells encourages all to attend.
“Be proud of how students represent the University by showing support at home to help kick off the tour,” Wells said.
The show premieres 8 pm. Wednesday in Charles Winterwood Theatre and is free for students and the community.
contact jequisha williams at firstname.lastname@example.org.