Carpenter Center releases 2011-12 schedule

LONG BEACH - The Carpenter Performing Arts Center has announced its 2011-12 season, which features five subscription series and more - including inspiring and celebrated performers in theatre, dance and music as well as events for the entire family."Our patrons will find an eclectic array of artists and performances scheduled for the Carpenter Center's 17th season of presenting," said executive director Michele Roberge. "It is difficult to pick a favorite with the dance-illusionists of MOMIX, Hollywood icon Shirley MacLaine, and Ballet Maribor's 'Radio & Juliet' among the choices. There truly is something for everyone as our season ranges from Broadway star Davis Gaines, to a performance by master DJ Paul Oakenfold on stage with the Bob Cole Conservatory Symphony Orchestra, to an appearance by 'Jungle' Jack Hanna, and more." The season officially opens with Broadway star Davis Gaines, who returns after two sold-out performances as part of the Cabaret Series, the Center's most intimate experience where patrons enjoy table seating on the stage within feet of the performer. Gaines performed the title role in Andrew Lloyd Webber's "The Phantom of the Opera" more than 2,000 times during his run on Broadway, in Los Angeles (where he remains LA's longest-running Phantom) and in San Francisco. The Cabaret Series next features Grammy-nominated and Los Angeles-born Perla Batalla, who gained international attention as a backup singer for Leonard Cohen, and continues with Broadway star Rachel York, who has performed in "City of Angels," "Les Misérables" and "Victor/Victoria," among others. The series culminates with Hot Club of Detroit and vocalist Cyrille Aimée performing gypsy jazz in the tradition of Django Reinhardt. Academy Award-winning actress Shirley MacLaine kicks off the Wit & Wisdom Series with a montage of memorable film moments and revelations about her extraordinary life, career and spiritual journey. The Wit & Wisdom Series also includes the return of NPR favorite, Capitol Steps, a group of former congressional staffers who put the 'mock' in democracy with their up-to-the-minute political satire songs and parodies. Rounding out the series is Aquila Theatre Company's performance of Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest." This world-renowned troupe is known for their fresh and lively interpretations of classical theatre. The Dance Series begins with a rare U.S. engagement of Ballet Maribor performing "Radio & Juliet," a modern interpretation of Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" set to music by Radiohead and choreographed by Edward Clug. The series continues when Doug Varone and Dancers - celebrating their 25th anniversary - bring their acclaimed new work, "Chapters from a Broken Novel," to the Carpenter Center stage. Ballet Memphis wraps up the Dance Series with a performance that includes "In Dreams" - a passionate journey through six of the most popular songs by legendary artist Roy Orbison, as well as the West Coast premiere of their latest work, "S'epanouir." Thrill seekers will be drawn to the Spectacle Series, which opens with MOMIX reMIX, with two performances that feature the very best of more that 30 years of MOMIX creations, combining unimaginable feats with powerful grace and creating scenes of dream-like splendor. The series continues with MarchFourth Marching Band as stilt-walkers, unicyclists, fire eaters, puppets, flag twirlers, clown antics, acrobatics and more accompany this big band that consists of a 12-piece horn section, a 10-piece drum/percussion corps and is anchored by electric bass. The series ends with Jack Hanna's "Into the Wild Live!" Hanna introduces the audience to a variety of his wild furry and feathered friends as he shares his extensive knowledge of wild animals, enthusiasm for wildlife conservation, humorous tales and fascinating footage of his worldwide journeys. As previously announced, the Carpenter Center is taking over presenting responsibilities from the Long Beach Community Concert Association (LBCCA). The Carpenter Center's newly named Sunday Afternoon Concert Series begins with Igudesman & Joo, the classically trained violinist and pianist who have taken the world by storm with their hilarious theatrical shows - combining comedy with classical music and popular culture. Next up is the Grammy-nominated Linda Tillery and the Cultural Heritage Choir, a percussion-driven vocal ensemble with strong Caribbean and Deep South influences that has been performing together since 1992. The series continues with "Swinging with the Big Band," an afternoon of Big Band swing featuring the Gene Krupa Tribute Band, Mary Lou Metzger, String of Pearls and the Demarche Sisters. Rounding out the season is Susan Egan's "The Belle of Broadway." Egan's Broadway credits include the title role in "Thoroughly Modern Millie," the longest running Sally Bowles in "Cabaret," and the original Belle in "Beauty and the Beast." To complete the season lineup, the Center is also presenting an entertaining mix of non-series events. First up is Grammy Award-winning a cappella vocal ensemble Sweet Honey in the Rock. Next is the return of last season's popular Zoppé Italian Family Circus. Following that, master DJ and producer Paul Oakenfold teams up with CSULB's Bob Cole Conservatory Orchestra to create an unforgettable music experience in three acts. Then Metales M5, Mexico's leading brass quintet, unites classical and world music, contemporary repertoire and pops arrangements in a program that breaks the barriers of musical genres. For the holidays, patrons can enjoy the timeless tradition of big band swing with the Harry James Orchestra Holiday Concert. Next up is "In Conversation:" legendary musician Lou Reed and producer Bob Ezrin, presented in conjunction with the world premiere of Lou Reed's Ambisonic 3-D soundscape Metal Machine Trio: The Creation of The Universe - an update of his 1975 album Metal Machine Music - at the University Art Museum at CSULB. The next Carpenter Center stage event is "An Evening with Azar Nafisi," the author of the national bestseller "Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books" - which electrified readers with its incisive exploration of the transformative powers of fiction in a world of tyranny. Nafisi takes audiences on a journey inside a repressed culture, speaking out against authoritarianism and censorship. Following that is "An Evening with the T.S. Monk Sextet," offering jazz that's both smooth and funky and for St. Patrick's Day, "An Evening with Solas," proclaimed as the most popular and exciting Celtic band to ever emerge from the United States. Patrons who subscribe to one of the five subscription series get the best seats in the house, as well as numerous benefits - from significant discounts on single tickets to free parking for all subscribed events. A 2011-12 advance priority subscription order form is available online at The Wit and Wisdom Series three-event subscription is $99, the Dance Series three-event subscription is $99, the Spectacle Series three-event subscription is $79, the Cabaret Series four-event subscription ranges from $136-$282, and the Sunday Afternoon Concert Series four event subscription is $100. Advance single tickets will be available online and by calling (562) 985-7000 starting June 1 at a discount of $5 off each ticket through Aug. 1. The Arts Ticket Office opens for in-person window sales to all the 2011-12 Season events on Aug. 1.

********** Published: March 24, 2011 - Volume 9 - Issue 49