Upcoming Norton Center season encourages audiences to “reimagine”
May 19, 2011 By Leigh Cocanougher
Yamato: The Drummers of Japan
Ballroom with a Twist
Fiddler on the Roof
Moulin Rouge–The Ballet
Stanley Jordan of Stanley Jordan Trio
Portland Cello Project
The 2011-2012 season at Centre College’s Norton Center for the Arts will be anything but expected.
With the motto “Reimagine,” the upcoming season consists of 21 thrilling, imaginative, extraordinary performances—20 of which have never before taken place on the Norton Center stage. (And the one show that has, the North American touring production of Fiddler on the Roof, has not been to campus in 10 years).
“We have reconceived the composition of the season, the flexibility of the series and the selection of the artists,” says Norton Center executive director Steve Hoffman, who joined the Norton Center staff in July 2010. “We’re pleased to present a season with a refreshing new look and feel.”
The Norton Center’s objective this year, Hoffman says, is to “deepen the experience beyond the performance. We want to take a performance and turn it into an event, because events are what become meaningful experiences.”
To this end, the Norton Center will be offering a variety of matinee performances and master classes to complement the season’s shows. The arts center will also be working closely with several academic programs and divisions at Centre, allowing professors to integrate the arts seamlessly into their curriculum.
With plenty of dramatic, comedic and virtuosic performances scheduled, patrons of the Norton Center are in for an extraordinarily memorable season.
Unlike in seasons past, the Norton Center will offer only two series options: the Newlin Hall Series and Club Weisiger. With reduced prices on shows in both series, the Norton Center will offer “reduced risks to try more programs that may be less familiar or unknown,” Hoffman says.
The Newlin Hall Series: “This is cultural entertainment.”
The 2011-2012 Newlin Hall Series offers something for everyone, with performances by Grammy-winners, celebrities, rising stars, world-class dance troupes, traditional orchestras and more.
This year, 15 of the 16 Newlin Hall Series performances are Norton Center debuts, and no ticket price is more than $75. In addition, each subscriber of more than six shows will receive a free gift (while supplies last).
Subscribers can opt in or out of shows they want to attend within the Newlin Hall Series. And the more performances a patron selects, the better the seat selection will be (and the greater the discounts).
To accommodate those with busy weekday schedules, each Newlin Hall Series performance that occurs on Monday through Thursday will begin at 7:30 p.m, to get audiences home earlier.
The series begins on Friday, Sept. 9, with a double concert featuring the Robert Cray Band and the Shemekia Copeland Band. A five-time Grammy award-winner, Cray is known for his signature blend of R&B, pop, rock, soul and traditional blues. Copeland, who is only in her 20s, has been ranked as one of the world’s top blues performers. The event begins at 8:00 p.m.
“The Hills Are Alive” by Brooklyn Rundfunk Orkestrata will take place on Friday, Sept. 23, at 8:00 p.m. The music, Hoffman says, is “the Sound of Music reinterpreted in a pop/rock style.” Think songs from the beloved musical mashed with musical riffs by the Rolling Stone, Jackson 5, Aerosmith, Boston and more.
On Wednesday, Oct. 5, at 7:30 p.m., the Norton Center cheers ¡Viva Brazil! as the Luciana Souza Trio will take the stage for a seductive evening of traditional and contemporary Brazilian songs. The group’s music features everything from Brazilian pop, jazz and folk songs to lyrical interpretations of Pablo Neruda’s poetry and seductive Bossa Nova.
Legendary comedic superstar Cloris Leachman will present a one-woman show on Saturday, Oct. 22, at 8:00 p.m. The Academy Award and Emmy-winning actress has starred in films (including The Last Picture Show and Young Frankenstein), television shows (including “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “Phyllis,” “The Facts of Life” and “Raising Hope”) and more.
Yamato: The Drummers of Japan will bring their fusion of high-energy drumming, music and theater to the stage on Tuesday, Nov. 1, at 7:30 p.m. “They’re extremely interactive and theatrical,” Hoffman says, “and although they never speak, they quickly get the audience involved, using the best elements of traditional Japanese Taiko drumming and present them with the humor and vigor of STOMP!”
Rising bluegrass duo Dailey and Vincent will perform on Friday, Nov. 4, at 8:00 p.m. The New York Times has heralded the musicians as “the most celebrated new bluegrass act,” and they continue to earn national praise—over the past three years, they have received several industry Performance, Entertainer and Band of the Year awards, including a 2011 Grammy nomination and seven Bluegrass Music Awards in 2011 alone.
Ballroom with a Twist, an innovative dance production conceived and choreographed by Louis van Amstel, will take place on Friday, Nov. 18 at 8:00 p.m. Amstel, Emmy® Award-nominated and five-time “Dancing with the Stars” pro, has filled the act with dancers from TV’s “So You Think You Can Dance” and “Dancing with the Stars.” The Newlin Hall performance will also feature popular “Dancing with the Stars” celebrity pros Edyta Sliwinska and Alec Mazo and “American Idol” finalists David Hernandez (season seven) and Gina Glocksen (season six).
To kick off the holiday season, folk music legends Judy Collins and Arlo Guthrie will perform together on Friday, Dec. 2, at 8:00 p.m in a special program entitled Home for the Holidays. Grammy-winner Collins has been a renowned singer for more than five decades, while Guthrie is known around the world for both his songs and his social commentary.
The first Newlin Hall Series act of 2012 will feature the “Tschaikowski” St. Petersburg State Orchestra’s concert, which will take place on Friday, Jan. 13, at 8:00 p.m. “Bold, powerful and beautiful, this orchestra’s robust spirit will not disappoint,” Hoffman says.
On Friday, Feb. 10, at 8:00 p.m., famed L.A. Theatre Works will present The Rivalry, a depiction of the Abraham Lincoln-Stephen Douglas debates in the Illinois Senate. Written by Norman Corwin, the radio play incorporates dialogue from the original debate transcripts and eloquently reminds us of a time when political debate engaged Americans in a way that screeching talking heads and the blogosphere cannot.
Tony-award winning musical Fiddler on the Roof comes to the Norton Center on Sunday, March 4, for a special 4:00 p.m. matinee. Loved by people around the world, the musical has been popular since its debut. Filled with a rousing, heartwarming score, which includes, “Tradition,” “Matchmaker, Matchmaker,” “If I Were a Rich Man,” and “Sunrise, Sunset,” Fiddler on the Roof is a timeless classic.
Art meets science in the Diavolo Dance Theater performance, which will take place on Saturday, March 10, at 8:00 p.m. The act “reinvents dance, re-imagines theater and redefines thrills,” Hoffman says. Under the direction of Jacques Heim, who recently choreographed Cirque du Soleil’s KÀ, the dance theater group uses large-scale props to shock and delight audiences with leaps, spins and contortions.
Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet brings its production of Moulin Rouge® – The Ballet to the stage on Tuesday, March 27, at 7:30 p.m. Although the story is timeless, the choreography is new (the ballet premiered in 2009), the style is based on tradition and the ballet is set to great music, including Offenbach’s Can-Can and a seductive Piazzola tango. With its irrepressible “Gay Paree” style, razzle-dazzle dancing, eye-popping costumes and twinkling sets, the show is sure to captivate.
On Thursday, April 5, the Brentano String Quartet will perform at 7:30 p.m. The Times of London lauded their recent performance by saying, “Such was their ferocity on Saturday night that the instruments almost burst into flames.... This was wonderful, selfless music making.”
The Australian Chamber Orchestra will take the stage on Friday, April 13, at 8:00 p.m. For their Norton Center debut, the internationally renowned Australian Chamber Orchestra will be joined by four-time Grammy Award-winning soprano Dawn Upshaw to perform a new work composed by Maria Schneider, a Grammy-winning composer known for her lush and lyrical compositions.
The final performance of the Newlin Hall Series, We Are What We Eat, will be held on Tuesday, April 17, at 7:30 p.m. It will feature Marion Nestle, Ph.D. and Daphne Miller, MD, in a conversation about the ethics of food in everyday eating. Both presenters have received much praise from Michael Pollen and Eric Schlosser, two leading food movement authors, and beloved chef Julia Child.
Subscription Information for the Newlin Hall Series
Platinum Subscribers choose 14-16 of the Newlin Hall shows, get first choice for seating, save more than 20 percent off single ticket prices and are included in a raffle to receive one of five free Club Weisiger Series subscriptions.
Gold Subscribers choose 10-13 of the Newlin Hall shows, save as much as 15 percent off single ticket prices, have their orders processed after Platinum Subscribers and can purchase Club Weisiger tickets at Gold Level discounted price.
Silver Subscribers choose 6-9 of the Newlin Hall shows, save as much as 10 percent off single ticket prices, have their orders processed after Gold Subscribers and can purchase Club Weisiger tickets at Silver Level discounted price.
The Club Weisiger Series
“Remove your shoes. Reconsider all labels. Enjoy great shows.”
Such is the advice for those attending the five performances in the Norton Center’s Weisiger Theater that make up the 2011-2012 Club Weisiger Series, which Hoffman says is “bending genres one seat at a time.” All five acts are Norton Center debuts, and all tickets are $30—unless a patron chooses all five, in which case he or she will save $25 per subscription. Newlin Hall Series subscribers will also receive special discounts for this series.
Kicking off the Club Weisiger series on Friday, Sept. 30, at 8:00 p.m. is violinist Hahn-Bin, a Julliard-educated musician who Hoffman says “looks like a punker but plays like a virtuoso.” The young performer has already taken first prize in the prestigious Young Concert Artists International auditions; made his Carnegie Hall debut; and has performed at other prestigious venues, including Auditorium du Louvre in Paris, the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, the Kennedy Center and more.
The Raul Malo Band will take the stage on Wednesday, Nov. 30, at 7:30 p.m. Malo, known as one of the finest singers in the world, flawlessly integrates vintage sound with contemporary attitude in his music. He was the founder and frontman of the Grammy Award winning group, The Mavericks and, according to Rolling Stone magazine, “has a voice on par with the best of ’em: Sinatra, George Jones and Orbison.”
On Saturday, Jan. 28, at 8:00 p.m., the Stanley Jordan Trio will perform. Jordan has earned the reputation of being one of the most significant guitarists in the 20th century. Nominated for four Grammy Awards, he has become a legend due to his two-handed tapping technique and his method of weaving classical, jazz, pop and world textures.
Geri Allen and Timeline will perform at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 15, in an act that will also feature tap-percussionist Maurice Chestnut. Rolling Stone magazine has called Allen “the finest pianist of her generation, a gripping stylist whose mastery can no longer be denied.” Chestnut, one of tap’s brightest young stars, has performed in multiple stage productions, as well as on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars.”
The final act of the Club Weisiger series and the 2011-2012 Norton Center Season, the Portland Cello Project, will take place on Monday, May 7, at 7:30 p.m. With their eclectic performances (“likely to mix a Salt-N-Pepa cover with Bach, the group puts on acts that are “one-part rock concert, one-part chamber recital” and blend classical music with pop culture covers.
Subscription Information for Club Weisiger Series
Patrons who choose all five performances within the Club Weisiger Series receive first choice for seating and $25 off the single Club Weisiger ticket prices, as well as ensure best chance to see these sure-to-sell-out shows.
Tickets are on sale now. However, to learn more about subscription and single ticket deadlines, to request a brochure or to learn more about the Norton Center 2011-2012 season and its artists, please visit www.NortonCenter.com. People are also encouraged to join the Norton Center’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/nortoncenter.