MAY 14, 2018 10:00 AM
JODI HECKEL, ARTS AND HUMANITIES EDITOR
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Krannert Center for the Performing Arts will begin a two-season celebration of its 50th anniversary this fall that will include both the 50th anniversary of the building’s opening in April 1969 and the 50th season of performances in 2019-20.
Krannert Center is looking at the two seasons as both a celebration and “a springboard to propel us forward,” said Krannert Center director Mike Ross.
The upcoming seasons also are a recommitment to the driving philosophy of Krannert Center – bringing in a broad range of artists; providing educational opportunities and lab spaces for students in the performing arts and diverse cultural experiences for students throughout the university; supporting the development of boundary-pushing new work; and providing robust engagement opportunities for campus and community alike, Ross said.
The Opening Night Party on Sept. 7 will serve as a kickoff to the 50th anniversary celebration. The free event will feature Ranky Tanky, playing West African and jazz-influenced music; steel guitarist AJ Ghent; Baracutanga, which plays South American rhythms; pop-up performances by Chicago-based marching band Mucca Pazza; and the local New Orleans Jazz Machine, playing in the Amphitheatre. Opening Night will include a vintage car display on Goodwin Avenue.
Krannert Center will host a Family Day on Sept. 8 with performances and hands-on activities for kids.
A Come Home to Krannert Center weekend April 12-14 will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the building opening, with details to be released later.
One of the highlights of Krannert Center’s 2018-19 season is the September performance by the Los Angeles Master Chorale of “Lagrime di San Pietro (Tears of St. Peter),” depicting the seven stages of grief of St. Peter after his denial of Christ. The 21-member a cappella choir sings from memory. It is part of the Great Hall Series of classical music that includes performances by violinist Itzhak Perlman, mezzo-soprano Susan Graham, the San Francisco Symphony and the 36th concert by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
Manual Cinema will use live music, shadow puppetry, poetry and storytelling to tell the story of Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Gwendolyn Brooks in “No Blue Memories – The Life of Gwendolyn Brooks.” The work was commissioned by the Poetry Foundation. The November show is presented in collaboration with the University of Illinois Rare Book and Manuscript Library, which houses Brooks’ papers.
The Grammy Award-winning Kronos Quartet worked with filmmakers on a live cinema performance, “A Thousand Thoughts.” The multimedia piece includes music, narration, archival footage and recorded interviews that explore music from the late 20th and early 21st centuries. It is part of the Sonic Illinois Series featuring contemporary music that next season will include the Jupiter String Quartet with Tai Ji master Chungliang Al Huang; an electroacoustic concert featuring music from the U. of I. Experimental Music Studios; and Eighth Blackbird and Third Coast Percussion performing Steve Reich’s “Music for 18 Musicians.”
Krannert Center will host the world premiere of a contemporary adaptation of the Henry James novella “The Turn of the Screw.” The Builders Association performance company will present the multimedia performance of “STRANGE WINDOW: The Turn of the Screw” in September at the end of a three-week residency during which the work will be completed. It is one of a number of works next season that Krannert Center has commissioned, co-commissioned or otherwise supported.
Grammy- and Tony Award-winning jazz singer Dee Dee Bridgewater will pay tribute to the city of her birth in “Memphis … Yes, I’m Ready.” Bridgewater will perform with the Memphis Soulphony, singing blues, R&B and soul.
The 2018-19 season features several tap artists. The Hot Sardines perform music from the ’20s, ’30s and ’40s, in addition to original tunes, accompanied by a tap-dancing rhythm section. Tony Award-winning tap dancer Savion Glover will perform with drummer Marcus Gilmore to showcase the percussion of tap and jazz. Dorrance Dance will use electronic tap boards that allow the tap dancers to produce a variety of sounds when they perform “ETM: Double Down.”
Lyric Theatre @ Illinois will perform “Crazy for You,” featuring singing and dancing to the music of George and Ira Gershwin, when it closes out its season in April. Lyric Theatre will also present “La Boheme,” directed by opera singer and U. of I. music professor Nathan Gunn, who made his directorial debut in February 2018; and “The Rape of Lucretia,” directed by U. of I. theatre department head Kirsten Pullen. Lyric Theatre will perform “The 25th Annual Putman County Spelling Bee” at Allerton Park’s Music Barn as its season opener in September.
Krannert Center also hosts the productions for the Illinois theatre and dance departments. The six works of the theatre department’s season include stories of women in politics, the French Revolution and the Stonewall Riots in New York City, as well as a Stephen Sondheim musical and the premiere of a devised play featuring powerful female characters. The dance department will celebrate its 50th anniversary with a yearlong series of performances titled “Dancing 50: Moving Forward/Looking Back.” The performances will bring back alumni to create new work with dance faculty.
Illinois dance professor and Bessie Award-winning choreographer Cynthia Oliver will present her newest work “Virago-Man Dem,” which uses movement, spoken word, original music and graphic design to challenge the stereotypes related to the identities of Caribbean and African-American men. Other dance performances next season include the Mark Morris Dance Group performing “Pepperland,” a tribute to the Beatle’s “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”; Ballet Folklorico de Mexico; the Russian National Ballet Theatre presenting “Giselle” and “The Sleeping Beauty”; and Andersson Dance and Scottish Ensemble, a collaboration between a contemporary dance company and a string ensemble to present a modern adaptation of Bach’s “Goldberg Variations.”
Krannert Center’s Family Series offers performances especially appropriate for children. Next season, the series includes a production by Tall Stories, a London theatrical company, of “Emily Brown and the Thing,” which uses puppetry, storytelling and music to depict nighttime rituals and childhood imagination. Children are invited to wear their pajamas and bring a stuffed animal to the early evening performance.
During the two-season 50th anniversary celebration, people can share stories and photos from Krannert Center at KrannertCenter.com/StoryCollection.
Tickets for the 2018-19 season will go on sale at 10 a.m. July 14 and can be purchased online at KrannertCenter.com, by calling 217-333-6280 or in person at Krannert Center, 500 S. Goodwin Ave., Urbana.
Editor’s note: More information about Krannert Center for the Performing Arts’ 2018-19 season is available online at krannertcenter.com. For more information, contact Bridget Lee-Calfas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: Illinois NEWS BUREAU