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Jazz and Shakespeare combine in Spearfish


Daniel Kelly’s jazz group performs “Shakespeare in Jazz” for residents of Spearfish, SD. Photo courtesy of Matthews Opera House.

Spearfish, South Dakota, is a small community on the northern end of the Black Hills, just a few miles east of Wyoming. It boasts beautiful landscapes and a rich history. It is also home to a thriving arts community, thanks in large part to the Matthews Opera House and Arts Center.

The Matthews Opera House is a long-time Arts Midwest Touring Fund grantee, as it regularly presents touring artists in its historic theatre and engages the local community in workshops and presentations.

In January, The Matthews hosted Daniel Kelly and his group for Shakespeare in Jazz: All the World’s a Song. Kelly, an accomplished pianist and composer, created this show by taking text from several Shakespeare plays and transforming them into original jazz songs. Audiences had the opportunity to hear Shakespeare’s text in a new way, or for the first time.


Daniel Kelly performs at Creekside Elementary School. Photo courtesy of Matthews Opera House.

Kelly performed at a number of locations throughout the community. Becky Naccarato Eastburn, Executive Director of the Matthews Opera House, was impressed by Kelly’s skill at engaging each audience in a different way. “No show was the same… [Kelly] has the ability to interact and engage the crowd to sing along, laugh, and even help on the keyboard, making the music come to life.”


Daniel Kelly performs with an audience member at Northerns Hills Training Center. Photo courtesy of Matthews Opera House.

These community activities are at the heart of what The Matthews aims to do. “As the cultural center of Spearfish, it is our goal to bring new experiences to our community,” explains Eastburn. “The Touring Fund grant gives us the opportunity to organize meaningful art outreach… Throughout the day, our staff saw the looks in the eyes of the community and instantly knew how important this program was.”

“Our staff saw the looks in the eyes of the community and instantly knew how important this program was.”
—Becky Naccarato Eastburn, Matthews Opera House Executive Director

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