On with the show – Overture, curtains, lights … Let’s welcome the new cultural season in the Capital City

Talent comes from near and far to illuminate Baton Rouge’s 2012-13 performing arts season, commencing this month. The bill includes dancers, singers and musicians from around the world, but they will share the limelight with equally exciting performers who call our city their hometown. From children’s classics to sophisticated grand operas, from cutting-edge contemporary acts to holiday favorites, this season offers something for every audience.

batonrougeballet.org, 766-8379
For many Baton Rougeans, it wouldn’t be Christmas without bringing the family to a performance of The Nutcracker: A Tale from the Bayou. The beloved production will return for its 22nd year on Dec. 15 and 16 with the usual cadre of world-class guest artists and charming down-home twists. But before the snowflakes start to fall, BRBT will welcome another celebrated group of dancers for a guest performance Oct. 4; The Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company of Salt Lake City will introduce the Capital City crowd to innovative moves that push the boundaries of contemporary dance. The season winds down March 14 with BRBT’s annual Spring Concert, which promises a diverse display of classical and modern choreography.

brlt.org, 924-6496
A “season of story and song” starts with a bang Aug. 24 through Sept. 1, as Steven Sondheim’s controversial musical Assassins explores the dark depths of American history. The mood lightens with the Oscar Wilde comedy The Importance of Being Earnest Sept. 28 through Oct. 14, followed by nostalgic musical favorite Always … Patsy Cline Nov. 2-18. After the traditional run of A Christmas Carol Dec. 7-16, the new year ushers in Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Jan. 18 through Feb. 3 and the film noir–inspired musical City of Angels March 8-24. BRLT takes a leap into new territory with its season-ender, Move Over, Mrs. Markham, a “zany free-for-all” whose British-born farcical situations will leave audiences laughing.

batonrougesymphony.org, 383-0500
The musical magic of BRSO’s Masterworks Series begins with the romantic strains of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, featuring internationally acclaimed guest artist Cho-Liang Lin, on Sept. 20. The final performance of the season is equally anticipated, as visionary pianist and NPR host Christopher O’Riley puts his signature on a program ranging from Rachmaninoff to Ravel slated for March 21. Tucked between these bold bookends are a handful of other audience-pleasing events, most notably a performance featuring teenage pianist Colton Peltier Oct. 18 and mezzo-soprano Allison Sanders’ appearance on the Jan. 17 program. A midseason treat comes in the form of “Home for the Holidays” Nov. 29, in which soprano Mara Bonde and the Baton Rouge Symphony Chorus give voice to a host of favorite holiday tunes.

brrivercenter.com, 389-3030
America’s favorite TV dad, Bill Cosby, will bring his family-friendly brand of comedy to the River Center Oct. 14 as he opens Broadway in Baton Rouge’s new season. It’s a fitting start for a lineup filled with shows that appeal to all ages and interests. Top names among the touring productions making a stop here include West Side Story Jan. 2, Blue Man Group Jan. 22 and Dreamgirls March 30. The season concludes with a musical romp through the 1980s as Rock of Ages turns up the volume May 2.

cangelosidanceproject.com, 291-4587
Kris Cangelosi’s skilled fusion of ballet and modern dance has led to her choreographic works being performed all over the world in the last two decades. Baton Rouge audiences will get their own taste of her company’s breathtaking style in two shows this fall. A performance on Oct. 21 of “October Fest” featuring some of her original contemporary works, will be held at the Manship Theatre’s Hartley/Vey Studio Theatre, and the annual “Holiday Mix” performances of classical and contemporary works are set for Dec. 21 and 22 on the Manship Theatre’s main stage.

louisianasinfonietta.org, 578-4010 (day), 766-3487 (evening)
LSU’s School of Music Recital Hall will be filled with music from some of history’s most masterful composers this season as the Louisiana Sinfonietta takes the stage. “Antonio Vivaldi: Concerto for Two Trumpets” tops the program for the Sept. 23 performance, to include four other works. Oct. 21 sees a Vivaldi bassoon concerto played along with works by Grieg, Iturralde and Sinfonietta conductor Dinos Constantinides himself. “Music for the Young at Heart” is the theme of the Jan. 27 show, with music by Bach, Schubert and Wagner. After another four-work program March 17, Sinfonietta soloists take the spotlight April 28.

theatre.lsu.edu, 578-5128
Since 1928, talented young thespians have shown their skill in plays put on by LSU’s Department of Theatre, and the department’s two Mainstage productions this season will transport audiences back to that earlier era. The first, Elephant’s Graveyard, directed by Joanna Battles, takes the stage of the Reilly Theatre Nov. 7-18, recounting the true story of a shocking incident at a traveling circus. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, directed by Richard Holden, will highlight a handful of schoolgirls and their teacher in the 1930s in a run of performances Feb. 20 through March 3.

uniontheater.lsu.edu, 578-5128
A sinking ship, a “hi-def Yo-Yo Ma,” and performances inspired by two musical kings and a Queen highlight the upcoming season at the LSU Union Theater. The lineup launches with an evening of storytelling by Ira Glass of NPR’s This American Life Aug. 26. October is packed with performances, including the Tony Award­­–winning Titanic: The Musical Oct. 10 and musician Dana Leong’s electro-acoustic blend of cello, laptop and other lively sounds Oct. 24. Elvis returns to the building—or rather, impersonator Kraig Parker does—Dec. 9, while a tribute to the king of pop comes in the form of “The Ultimate Michael Jackson Experience” Feb. 21. “One Night of Queen” re-creates the looks and sounds of a performance by the “Bohemian Rhapsody” band March 17. Comedy and ballet round out the season, with a show by “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” stars Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood March 7 and a performance of Swan Lake by the Russian National Ballet May 4.

manshiptheatre.org, 344-0334
We can’t keep our lips sealed about the Manship Theatre’s season-opening act: the 1980s acclaimed pop group the Go-Go’s. The rest of the fall lineup offers such diverse programming as dance company Urban Bush Women Oct. 9, organist Cameron Carpenter Oct. 18 and Second City comedy troupe Nov. 8. Come 2013, the calendar is full once again with shows including the Philadelphia Dance Company, aka Philadanco, on Jan. 31, and Louisiana’s own Marc Broussard and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band March 8. Children’s storybook favorite “Skippyjon Jones” bounds to the stage March 10.

ofmovingcolors.org, 338-0804
With a quarter-century of dancing under their belts, Garland Goodwin Wilson and her team at Of Moving Colors are embarking on another exciting season. The fun begins with the “Zombie Bash” Oct. 5, a spooky downtown 5K run combined with a mass street dance of “Thriller” under the moonlight. “Rock & Roll” follows on Oct. 24, featuring performances of solo artists as well as duets, trios and quartets to the sounds of rock music. Young dancers join the OMC professionals for “Kick It Out,” the company’s fourth annual community children’s performance, Jan. 25-27. The season culminates with “Silk and Steel,” a new collaboration with Los Angeles artist Peter Shire that includes a custom interactive set, on April 26-28.

operalouisiane.com, 377-2029
One of the Capital City’s youngest cultural organizations continues to shine this season, bringing classical fare to children and discerning opera lovers alike. “A Feast with Falstaff” opens the Opéra Louisiane season Sept. 27 in the historic setting of the Old State Capitol. Young people get their own free performance Nov. 10 in “Hansel and Gretel” at Christian Life Academy. Highbrow meets mainstream in “Best of Opera and Broadway” Jan. 31 at the Old State Capitol. And the group concludes the season with what’s already being touted as “the cultural event of 2013”: the grand opera production of Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore (The Elixir of Love), March 1 at the River Center Theater.

artsbr.org, 344-0334
Some of the biggest names in international jazz will visit the Capital City as part of the Arts Council of Baton Rouge’s River City Jazz Masters Series, staged at the Manship Theatre. The season begins with the Jason Moran Trio, led by the musical adviser for jazz at the Kennedy Center, on Oct. 30. Cuban pianist Chucho Valdés and his award-winning quintet will share their genre-fusing flair Nov. 20, proving why Valdés is credited with revolutionizing Latin music. The spring scene is no less exciting, with the James Carter Organ Trio performing its combination of swingy hits, ballads, gospel and blues on Feb. 7 and a collection of artists from the Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour visiting on March 24. The season’s final act is Grammy-nominated vocalist Jane Monheit, who has been compared to Ella Fitzgerald and Diana Krall.

swinepalace.org, 578-3527
It’s appropriate that a Louisiana original like Swine Palace would shape its 2012-13 season as a celebration of the state’s bicentennial. The season’s productions all feature a Magnolia State theme and will be deemed official Louisiana Bicentennial events. A Free Man of Color kicks off the trio of shows Sept. 19-30, offering a comedic tale of life in New Orleans just before the Louisiana Purchase; the show is directed by Paul Russell and stars Alvin Keith. Next comes Rising Water March 13-24, a gripping play by New Orleans author John Biguenet of an elderly couple trapped in their attic as Hurricane Katrina’s floodwaters draw ever closer. The fitting end to the season is an adaptation of Robert Penn Warren’s All the King’s Men performed April 24 through May 12.