Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May Days 2012!

Yes, the Tony Award nominations were announced this morning. And, yes, "Newsies," with IWU alum Evan Kasprzak in the cast, got a slew of them. But we'll get to that later. Right now, we need to fill in our May schedules for entertainment.

The filmed version of the New York Philharmonic's all-star production of Stephen Sondheim's "Company," which played in movie theaters a year ago, is back at Champaign-Urbana's Art Theater for one screening only, at 4 pm on May 2. That's tomorrow. If you missed it the last time, this Broadway musical and its fabulous cast, including Neil Patrick Harris, Stephen Colbert, Christina Hendricks from "Mad Men," Jon Cryer from "Two and a Half Men," Anika Noni Rose from "Dreamgirls," and Broadway legend Patti Lupone, might just be the perfect way to celebrate the Tony nominations. Later in the month, "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," with an all-star cast of its own (Judi Dench and Maggie Smith, for starters) hits The Art beginning May 25.

The last event on Illinois State University's School of Theatre schedule is the Spring Dance Concert, under the direction of ISU Dance Theatre Artistic Director Sara Semonis. Performances are scheduled for May 3, 4 and 5 at 7:30 pm and May 5 at 2 pm in the Center for the Performing Arts, with a program that includes new works from Greg Merriman, Sara Semonis, Jessica Waltrip and Darby Wilde, all choreographers from ISU's dance faculty, as well as the world premiere of "Chattering," choreographed by guest artist Julie Tice, and a new piece choreographed by undergrads Amy Davelis and Taylor Oxley.

Tickets for the Spring Dance Concert can be purchased by visiting the box office in the Center for the Performing Arts or by calling 309-438-2535.

New Route Theatre expands its programming past the "One Shot Deal" series, offering six performances of Irene Taylor's one-woman show "Suppos'd to," which she performed last year to much acclaim. "Suppos'd to" marks New Route Theatre's premiere production with the McLean County YWCA with performances May 4-5 and 11-12 at 7:30 pm and May 6 and 13 at 2 pm.

But that doesn't mean New Route is giving up the Eaton Gallery or the One Shot Deal series. May's "One Shot Deal" will be Rana Kunkar's new work, "Shams (Arabic for Sun)," performed May 16th at 7 pm at the Eaton Studio and Gallery, 411 North Center Street in downtown Bloomington. You can see pictures and more information for both events here on the New Route Facebook page.

Community Players keeps up the beat (because we all know you can't stop the beat) with the bright and shiny Marc Shaiman/Scott Wittman musical "Hairspray," opening with a special preview performance on May 10. This "Hairspray" is a fizzier, friendlier version of the 1988 John Waters film that starred Divine as Baltimore housewife Edna Turnblad and Ricki Lake as her daughter, Tracy, who desperately wants a chance to dance on the Corny Collins Show. The film spawned the 2002 Broadway production, which turned into the 2007 movie with John Travolta playing Edna. Alan Wilson directs for Community Players, with Scott Myers as Edna and Kelly Slater as Tracy.

The Normal Theater brings two days of Audrey Hepburn to its screen with "Sabrina" on May 10 and 11 and "Roman Holiday" on the 12th and 13th. "Sabrina" is a Billy Wilder gem from 1954, with Hepburn as Sabrina, a beautiful chauffeur's daughter caught between the charms of two rich brothers, portrayed by Humphrey Bogart (in a change of pace as uptight Linus Larrabee) and William Holden (all Golden Boy as younger bro David, Sabrina's longtime crush). In "Roman Holiday," Hepburn is a princess on the lam, falling for Gregory Peck, the newspaper guy who gives her a ride around Rome. And although "Roman Holiday" is from 1953, only a year before "Sabrina," Hepburn seems ever so much younger on her Roman vacation. Both films are more than worth your time to see this style icon and screen star at her most lovely.

Grammy winner k.d. lang and her new band, the Siss Boom Bang, come to the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts on May 17 at 7:30 pm.

Illinois Wesleyan's School of Theatre Arts closes out its season with a double bill of Elaine May's one-act comedy "Adaptation" and a new version of the classic "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland." Both shows are directed by graduating seniors, with Peter Studlo at the helm of "Adaptation" and Megan Francomb taking on "Alice." Performances are scheduled for the E. Melba Kirkpatrick Laboratory Theatre May 18 to 20.

Back at the Normal Theater, silent film stars get the spotlight with Buster Keaton in "The General" May 24-25 and Charlie Chaplin minding little Jackie Coogan in "The Kid" May 26-27.

They're both wonderful films, made current again by last year's Oscar winner, "The Artist." And whether you're a silent film fan or not, these are two movies that need to be seen by anyone who wants to understand where film comedy comes from and why Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin are so revered. Oh, and "The Kid" will also make you cry. Just sayin'.

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