Shooting for the Stars – Baton Rouge’s brightest cultural venues unveil a new season filled with famous names and beloved productions
“Dance is for everybody,” said the great choreographer Alvin Ailey. The creative forces at work in the Capital City certainly seem to agree: This year, lithe performers will whirl and twirl in unexpected places and for audiences of all ages. They will share the spotlight with popular performers, big Broadway shows and even a few up-and-comers who are sure to soon have their own names in lights all over the world. And just to drive Ailey’s point home, his own dance company will return to Baton Rouge this year as well, proving that the arts are for everyone—if we only seize the opportunity to appreciate them.
batonrougeballet.org, 766-8379?Alvin Ailey changed the world’s perception of American dance when he first led a groundbreaking performance in New York City in 1958, and the Baton Rouge Ballet Theatre welcomes back his Ailey II company Oct. 20 to kick off its season and once again delight local audiences. The focus turns to festive frolicking on Dec. 21 and 22, when the revered The Nutcracker: A Tale from the Bayou returns to the stage for the 23rd year. The season’s finale promises to charm fairy-tale fans with a full-length production of Snow White on April 5 and 6; choreographed and designed by renowned artistic director Winthrop Corey, the visually stunning work is being touted as the season’s must-see show.
Teen piano prodigy Colton Peltier was such a sensation when he performed with the BRSO last year that the orchestra is bringing him back to kick off its dazzling new season Oct. 17. The concerts that follow will highlight such notables as LSU professor and celebrated cellist Dennis Parker, coming off a performance at Carnegie Hall, on Nov. 14; clarinetist Robert DiLutis on Jan. 23; and violinist Yi-Jia Hou on May 8. If pops is what pleases you, look no further than the nostalgic seasonal favorites of “Home for the Holidays” Dec. 8, the smooth harmonies of “Spectrum Motown” Feb. 8, and the Broadway bombshells of “Wicked Divas” March 28.
Six shows streak from the Great White Way to the River Center this season, beginning with the feel-good musical Mamma Mia! Oct. 22. The Addams Family creeps in Nov. 11 and turns traditional musical comedy on its ear, followed by Green Day’s American Idiot Dec. 5. Audiences and performers alike will be cheering as the new year begins with Bring It On: The Musical Jan. 24. The music continues on Feb. 16 with Million Dollar Quartet, the story of a legendary recording session of Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash. To end the season, the series takes theatergoers back to the days of peace, love and rock ‘n’ roll with Hair on March 6.
Classical and contemporary dance converge with grace and beauty as Kris Cangelosi’s eponymous company performs throughout the city. The season begins with a fundraiser reception Sept. 15 at the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge, with performances by top dancers and guest musicians. Solo and duet works will shine on Oct. 20 at the Baton Rouge Gallery. And as Christmas approaches, the “Holiday Mix” production brings original works from gospel to hip-hop to the Manship Theatre Dec. 20 and 21. The annual “Spring Fling” will feature short pieces at the Hartley/Vey Theatres on April 6, and the season will close with a “Collection of Concert Works” at the Manship Theatre May 30.
louisianainfonietta.org, 578-4010 (day), 766-3487 (evening)
Born as a branch of the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra, the Louisiana Sinfonietta is now a cultural jewel in its own right. This season, composer and conductor Dinos Constantinides (right) and his ensemble will present five concerts at the LSU School of Music Recital Hall, beginning with the Grand Opening Sept. 29, featuring works from Handel, Mozart and Grieg. Next up is a performance spanning the baroque to the contemporary, Nov. 17, as Vivaldi and Bach lead the lineup. “Music for the Young at Heart” is the theme of the Jan. 26 show, with a hoedown number and a playful musical story. After a celebration of five soloists on March 16, the Grand Finale on April 13 will highlight majestic works by Haydn, Puccini and Constantinides himself.
What do you get when you combine a trio of edgy comedians with a dancing magician, then add a CNN legend and Archie Bunker’s outspoken daughter? The LSU Union Theater’s new season, of course. The buzz-worthy lineup begins as Larry King sits down with former Gov. Edwin Edwards and his biographer, Leo Honeycutt, Sept. 8. Illusionist Adam Trent is next onstage, Sept. 19, followed by the Comedy Central on Campus tour Oct. 10. Broadway biggies come next, from Memphis on Nov. 25 and 26 and Beauty and the Beast Feb. 12 to the classic Sweet Charity March 7 and ultimately Hello, Dolly! featuring Emmy-winner Sally Struthers on March 30.
New Orleans musical icon Dr. John graces the stage of the Manship Theatre Sept. 8, setting the tone for what will be a memorable season. Other headliners include Mary Chapin Carpenter and her longtime friend Shawn Colvin on Nov. 8, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band’s “Creole Christmas” Dec. 5, and Rick Springfield at a red-carpet gala fundraiser on April 10. There’s plenty of family-friendly fare, too, from Alice in Wonderland on Oct. 13 and 14 to Stuart Little on Jan. 26 and Fancy Nancy on April 27.
Of Moving Colors’ 27th season promises to “color the city rouge,” with events and dance performances happening in unusual venues and celebrating our local heritage. The Season Kickoff Gala will take place Sept. 20 with a poolside party and water performance at The Crescent at University Lake. In the spooky season, the Zombie Bash features a 5K run and mass street dance to “Thriller” in the moonlight on Oct. 4. The annual community performance, “Kick It Out,” will feature area children and professional dancers at the Manship Theatre in January. And the Spring Contemporary Show will bring its cutting-edge moves to the same stage in April.
With a theme of “All That Glitters,” Opéra Louisiane will shine this season with dazzling rings and glass slippers, the bright lights of Broadway and even the sparkle of champagne. A condensed version of Wagner’s The Ring Cycle starts the magic on Sept. 27 and 29 with famous tunes, winged helmets and plot twists. Cinderella, or rather the English version of Rossini’s classic La Cenerentola, aims to introduce children to the opera on Nov. 10. And the popular “CHORUS!” returns Feb. 13 with the opera’s community chorus and the Baton Rouge Symphony Chorus performing familiar numbers from musical theater and operetta. The comedy Die Fledermaus brings an incredible party to the stage at the season’s finale May 2 and 4.
The Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge welcomes four musical phenoms to Baton Rouge as part of the new River City Jazz Masters season. Cuban jazz pianist Roberto Fonseca leads the charge Oct. 3, followed by lyrical storyteller, singer and pianist Karrin Allyson Jan. 9. Vocalist Gregory Porter’s soulful sound will fill the theater March 5. And in a superlative conclusion to the series, Grammy-winning saxophonist and composer Branford Marsalis will entrance listeners April 2.