Monday, May 14, 2018

Krannert Center Announces 50th Anniversary Season

The University of Illinois' Krannert Center for the Performing Arts began its life as an artistic venue in April 1969, after a gift of 16 million dollars from Herman and Ellnora Krannert.

As Krannert Center press materials frame it, the Krannerts' "belief in the intrinsic value of the arts, their bold vision for the future, and their passionate loyalty to the University of Illinois helped bring into being what is widely considered the nation’s leading university-based performing arts center."

To spotlight its 50th anniversary, Krannert Center is launching a two-season celebration that will include "friends, colleagues, artists, and patrons past and present" along with projects from music, theater and dance units under the College of Fine and Applied Arts.

What's in store? "Patrons can expect boundary-pushing commissioning projects and new works, beloved familiar faces alongside new rising stars, invigorating performances from university faculty and students, and time for reflection, inspiration, and merriment—including a special April 2019 weekend that will mark the 50-year anniversary of Krannert Center’s opening."

An opening party on Friday September 7 launches the celebration, with "a high-energy gathering five decades in the making that will feature a musical lineup of Ranky Tanky, Baracutanga, AJ Ghent, Mucca Pazza, and CU’s own New Orleans Jazz Machine. Food and beverage sales, a vintage car display on Goodwin Avenue, and an invitation to dress from a decade of choice—1960s to the future—will round out this annual favorite, made even better by a free admission price."

They've also announced that the 2018-19 season will include events like the Los Angeles Master Chorale performing the Lagrime di San Pietro (Tears of St. Peter), living legend Itzhak Perlman, mezzo-soprano Susan Graham, San Francisco Symphony under Michael Tilson Thomas, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in the Great Hall, as well as many other events and artists, from The Builders Association presenting the Krannert Center-supported Strange Window: The Turn of the Screw to Ann Hampton Callaway and Susan Werner, two cirque troupes and Ballet Folklórico de México and Russian National Ballet Theatre. You can browse all those options here.

If you're interested in Illinois Theatre, the producing arm of the University of Illinois Department of Theatre, they will open their season on October 4 with Wendy Wasserstein's An American Daughter, directed by Tom Mitchell for the Studio Theatre. Wasserstein's play deals with a woman descended from Ulysses S. Grant who is being considered for the position of Surgeon General.

Next up is the musical A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, with performances from October 18 to 28 in the Colwell Playhouse. That will be directed by J.W. Morrissette, who took on Stephen Sondheim's Assassins at Krannert last year. Sondheim wrote the music and lyrics for Forum, while Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart wrote the book for this farce based on the work of Plautus. Sondheim's lyrics promise "comedy tonight" as a slave named Pseudolus, played by the likes of Zero Mostel (on Broadway and in the film), Nathan Lane and Whoopi Goldberg (both in the late 90s Broadway revival), wheels and deals to try to win his (or her) freedom.

November will see The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade, Peter Weiss' 1966 Tony winning play about revolution and class struggle, both in the theater and in the world. Directed by Laura Hackman for the Studio Theatre, Marat/Sade is scheduled to play from November 1 to 11, 2018.

Ike Holter's Hit the Wall opens the new year in the Studio Theatre, with performances set for January 31 to February 10, 2019. Robert G. Anderson directs Holter's "sweaty, messy, sexy" take on the Stonewall Riots in 1969, which includes a live band and a "multivoiced narrative."

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Simon Stephen's award-winning play based on the best-selling book by Mark Haddon,will play in the Colwell Playhouse from February 28 to March 10. Haddon's book offers the story of an autistic boy who goes on a journey to find out who really killed his neighbor's dog, with the stage production using all the tools of drama, from lights and set pieces to sound and choreography, to create the world as the boy experiences it. Latrelle Bright directs for Illinois Theatre.

The season finishes with Because I Am Your Queen, a devised "feminist fantasia in one act" created by Mina Samuels, that imagines a collection of dramatic women, like Hermione from Shakespeare's A Winter's Tale, Victor Hugo's Lucretia Borgia, Friedrich Schiller's Mary Stuart and Euripides' Medea, spending a day together at a spa. Samuels will work with Tectonic Theatre Project founding member Barbara McAdams, who will direct, using Moment Work to further develop the piece in conjunction with U of I theater students. Because I Am Your Queen reigns in the Studio Theatre from March 28 to April 7, 2019.

For more information on these shows as well as the entire 2018-19 lineup at Krannert Center, visit the site here. Tickets for the new season will go on sale Saturday, July 14, at 10 am, and you may purchase them at, call 217-333-6280 or by visiting the box office at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts on South Goodwin Avenue in Urbana.

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