E.J. Thomas Hall to mark anniversary with 'Fabulous and 40' concert and party


The University of Akron's E.J. Thomas Performing Arts Hall is celebrating its 40th anniversary with a "40 and Fabulous!" concert and party on Friday, Nov. 1.
The 8 p.m. concert features Northeast Ohio native Michael Cavanaugh, who made it big on Broadway as the pianist and vocalist for Billy Joel’s mega-hit "Movin' Out!," accompanied by the Akron Symphony Orchestra, one of Thomas Hall’s original residents.

Thomas Hall fun facts:

Who was E.J. Thomas? Edwin Joel Thomas, retired CEO of The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., chaired the fund-raising drive to build the hall.

How big? The facility, built for $13.9 million, covers three acres. There’s enough concrete in the massive structure to build a wall 1 foot thick and 3 feet high from Akron to Detroit — 190 miles.

First performance? The hall opened on Oct. 9, 1973, with the Akron Symphony Orchestra presenting “Initium.” The original work by Carlos Chavez was commissioned by Witan, a local women’s group.

Most unique feature? The 44-ton moveable ceiling that transforms the fan-shaped auditorium from a 900-seat venue to one for an audience of 3,000.

Sound check? A rehearsal room two floors below the 5,500 square foot stage matches it in size and has similar acoustics. Any group may practice there and know how it will sound on stage, without being heard on stage.

What a welcome! The Clara J. Knight Plaza displays the second largest morning glory fountain in the world, pumping 3,000 gallons of recirculated water a minute.

Alone and with the Akron Symphony, Cavanaugh will perform memorable favorites by Elton John, Billy Joel, The Who, Bruce Springsteen, James Taylor and more.
After the concert, the entire audience is invited to an anniversary party in the lobbies featuring Champagne toasts, desserts, live music and dancing.
"This anniversary concert epitomizes thousands of stellar E.J. events — past, present and future — for literally millions of audience members," says Dan Dahl, executive director of Thomas Hall.
In October of 1973, during the dedication of the performance venue, Norman Auburn, president emeritus, declared: "This majestic structure will serve as a cultural bridge, linking a thriving community and a great university."
"Now, 40 years later," says Dahl, "E.J. is a hub for arts and culture for our campus and community, the region's flagship performance venue, a powerful economic asset for downtown Akron, and a catalyst for collaboration among an array of artistic and cultural organizations."
Tickets for Thomas Hall's "Fabulous and 40" concert and party are $36.50 to $56.50, and are available from the Thomas Hall Ticket Office at 330-972-7570.

Northeast Ohio's Michael Cavanaugh, who made it big on Broadway as the pianist and vocalist for Billy Joel’s mega-hit "Movin' Out!," will be accompanied by the Akron Symphony Orchestra on Nov. 1 at E.J. Thomas Hall.

Media contact: Beth Lynch, 330-972-2701 or EFL2@uakron.edu.

Share your memories of events at EJ Thomas Hall