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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Your guide to Central Illinois arts and entertainment in 2009

What better way to greet a new year than to embrace what it promises? And we don’t mean the bad stuff we all know is part and parcel of every New Year deal. Let us turn, instead, to celebrating what we know will be the good stuff — especially as it relates to the frankly escapist world of GO!.

That would be the arts-and-entertainment possibilities coming our way in the winter weeks ahead.

You know: that weather-outside-is-frightful stretch during which we need all the help we can get.

To that end, we’ve rounded up a preview of all the big-ticket items already scheduled between now and spring.

Plenty more items will doubtless be added to the mix in the weeks ahead, which is why we invented the weekly GO! Calendar listings, the most complete source around for up-to-the-minute happenings.


Kicking off the season Jan. 8 with some big yucks will be Conklin’s Barn II Dinner Theatre with the Dennis R. Anderson farce Funny Valentines. Following fast on its peals of laughter will be the Barn’s other farcical winter-spring offerings, Michael Cooney’s Cash on Delivery (March 5) and an encore of the Barn’s 2005 hit, Squabbles (April 30).

Also raising the curtains early on the ’09 season are Bloomington’s Community Players, who’ll open their three-weekend run of Mary Chase’s hare-raising comedy classic, Harvey, Jan. 16. To be followed by yet another edition of Squabbles (Feb. 27) and the latest local staging of Urinetown: The Musical (May 1).

At Illinois State University, the season begins on a high dramatic note in Westhoff Theatre with Kia Corthron’s Breath, Boom (Feb. 20), an ISU-Crossroads Theatre collaboration about the life of a hardened female gang member in New York.

It’s followed by The Rover (Feb. 26), a saucy new adaptation of the classic Restoration farce in the Center for the Performing Arts Theatre; Timberlake Wertenbaker’s drama Our Country’s Good (April 3, Westhoff Theatre), about the staging of a play in Aussie prison; Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Evita (April 3, CPA Theatre); and this semester’s “Free Will” bargain Shakespeare offering, Julius Caesar (April 22, Allen Theatre).

At Illinois Wesleyan University, the main stage season in McPherson Theatre is comprised of a lone offering, Henrik Ibsen’s courtroom drama, An Enemy of the People (Feb. 17). In IWU’s Laboratory Theatre, it’s Chance Muehleck’s “play about the media,” Spokes (April 8), followed by a pair of one-acts, Edna St. Vincent Millay’s Aria Da Capo and Moliere’s The Precious Damsels (May; dates TBA).

At Eureka College, the school’s Pritchard Theatre will be the site of a world premiere, the student-written/performed one-woman show, KD: Two Letters Is All You Need (Jan. 22). It’s followed by Caryl Churchill’s feminist fantasia Top Girls (Feb. 20) and Noel Coward’s comedy of manners, Present Laughter (April 21).

Heartland Theatre Company in Normal has two winter-spring productions on tap, beginning with David Lindsay-Abaire’s drama about a couple coping with their child’s death, Rabbit Hole (Feb. 19), and followed by Olga Mikhailova’s Moscow-set comedy, Russian Dream (April 16).

The Pantagraph’s Holiday Spectacular crew returns with an original Lincoln musical drama, Lincoln’s in Town! (Feb. 13-15, Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts).

Meanwhile, that long-running rite of spring, The American Passion Play, returns to the BCPA for a four-weekend run beginning March 14.

National touring productions passing through the area include: Monty Python’s Spamalot (Jan. 17-18, Peoria Civic Center); An Evening with Martin and Langston starring Danny Glover (Jan. 23, ISU Bone Student Center Brown Ballroom); LeAnne Howe: Chocktalking on Other Realities (Jan. 23-24, U of I Krannert Center, Champaign); Rain: The Beatles Experience (Feb. 3, Sangamon Auditorium, Springfield; Feb. 4, Peoria Civic Center); The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Feb. 16, Sangamon Auditorium; March 31-April 1, Peoria Civic Center); The Drowsy Chaperone (Feb. 24-25, Peoria Civic Center; April 10, U of I Assembly Hall); and Movin’ Out (March 10, U of I Assembly Hall, Champaign);

Also: The Reduced Shakespeare Company’s History of America, Abridged (March 13, Sangamon Auditorium); Hairspray (March 16, Sangamon Auditorium); It’s Only Make Believe (March 22, Peoria Civic Center); Anna Deavere Smith’s Snapshots: Glimpses of America in Change (March 31, Krannert Center); Annie (April 13, Sangamon Auditorium); Footloose (April 19, Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts); Anne Bogart’s SITI Company: Who Do You Think You Are and Under Construction (April 25 and 28, Krannert Center); and Pinkalicious: The Musical (May 3, BCPA).


With at least three regular comedy clubs at play in Pantagraphland bounds — Bloomington’s Funny Bone and New Treehhouse Lounge, Mason City’s Mason City Limits — no weekend will pass by without laughs. So check out their weekly menus.

On the auditorium front, there’s: country jester Rodney Carrington (Jan. 22, Virginia Theater, Champaign; March 13, Peoria Civic Center); Mo’Nique (Jan. 31, Kirkland Fine Arts Center, Decatur); comedian-ventriloquist Jeff Dunham (Feb. 14, U.S. Cellular Coliseum); “queen of mean” Lisa Lampanelli (Feb. 21, Peoria Civic Center); Second City Touring Company (March 12, Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts); frequent Central Illinois visitor Larry the Cable Guy (April 4, U of I Assembly Hall ); and Vicki Lawrence & Mama: A Two-Woman Show (May 2, BCPA).


Coming to Twin Cities venues as of press time are: singer-songwriter Susan Werner (Jan. 20, Blue Moon Coffeehouse); Buddy Holly’s Winter Dance Party (Feb. 7, Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts); rockers 3 Doors Down, Seether and Safetysuit (7:30 p.m. Feb. 20, U.S. Cellular Coliseum); folkie Cheryl Wheeler (March 7, Blue Moon); the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (March 7, BCPA); pop long-runners The Lettermen (March 20, BCPA); classic rockers The Doobie Brothers (April 2, U.S. Cellular Coliseum); singer-songwriters Antje Duvekot and Natalia Zukerman (April 4, Blue Moon); The Manhattan Transfer (April 16, BCPA); and folk singer Willy Porter (Blue Moon, May 16).

Elsewhere: old-timers Styx (Jan. 22, Peoria Civic Center); Christian rockers Toby Mac, NewSong and others in the Winter Jam 2009 Tour Spectacular (Jan. 23, Peoria Civic Center); ’80s metal men Skid Row (Jan. 24, Lincoln Square Theater, Decatur); jam rockers the Disco Biscuits (Jan. 25, Canopy Club, Urbana); rock-opera troupe the East Village Opera Company (Jan. 30-31, U of I Krannert Center); Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy (Jan. 31, U of I Foellinger Auditorium, Champaign).

Also: rockers Slipknot, Coheed & Cambria and Trivium (Feb. 2, Peoria Civic Center); guitarist Keller Williams (Feb. 6, Canopy Club); Dove-winning Christian rockers Building 429 (Feb. 13, United Presbyterian Church, Peoria); heavy metal men Clutch (Feb. 15, Canopy Club); Peoria-begat rockers Mudvayne (7 p.m. Feb. 17, Prairie Capital Convention Center); Christian rockers Third Day (March 5, Assembly Hall); Susan Werner Duo (March 6, Sangamon Auditorium); George Thorogood & The Destroyers (March 2, East Peoria Event Center); and veteran folk singer Gordon Lightfoot (March 18, Virginia Theater, Champaign).


Scheduled for Twin Cities venues thus far are just a couple qualifying concerts: The Bill Gaither Homecoming (March 13, U.S. Cellular Coliseum), and fresh from Denzel Washington’s “The Great Debaters,” the offbeat Carolina Chocolate Drops (March 27, Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts).

Elsewhere: The two-day Y’allapalooza with 14 stars including LeAnn Rimes, Phil Vassar, Jason Aldean, Julianne Hough and more (Jan. 16-17, Prairie Capital Convention Center, Springfield); Toby Keith and (again) Jason Aldean (Jan. 29, Peoria Civic Center); Jay Unger & Molly Mason: An Early Birthday Party for A. Lincoln (Jan. 31, Sangamon Auditorium); Rascal Flatts and Jessica Simpson (Feb. 6, U of I Assembly Hall); bluegrass groups The Gordons, Special Consensus and Poplar Grove Bluegrass Band (April 3, Kirkland Fine Arts Center); and western swing legends Asleep at the Wheel (April 4, Kirkland Fine Arts Center)


In B-N, the big names on board so far include: New Orleans a cappella group the subdudes (Jan. 17, Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts); Bob Marley’s band, The Wailers (Jan. 22, BCPA); jazz chanteuse Sara Gazarek, performing this year’s WGLT JazzMasters concert (Feb. 7, ISU Center for the Performing Arts); the Preservation Hall Jazz Band (Feb. 21, BCPA); and the African Children’s Choir (Feb. 27, BCPA).

Elsewhere: female a cappella group Sweet Honey in the Rock (Feb. 10, Kirkland Fine Arts Center); Japan’s drum-crazy Kodo (Feb. 24, U of I Krannert Center); the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis (Feb. 28, Sangamon Auditorium); Aswat: Celebrating the Golden Age of Arab Music (March 15, Krannert Center); the Afro-Cuban All Stars (March 18, Krannert Center); Meredith Monk & Vocal Ensemble (April 4, Krannert Center); Chick Corea & John McLaughlin Five Peace Band (April 7, Krannert Center); Portuguese singer Mariza (April 15, Krannert Center); Bobby McFerrin and Polygraph Lounge (April 24, Krannert Center); and sax man Joshua Redman (May 2, Krannert Center).


On the Twin Cities front, the Illinois Symphony Orchestra will be busy in the weeks ahead with: Lincoln Bicentennial (Feb. 6), Gershwin at the Pops (March 6), America the Beautiful (April 3) and The Planets (May 1) — all performed in the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts.

In addition, the ISO’s subsidiary Illinois Chamber Orchestra performs Beautiful Classics (Jan. 24) and Tall Tales & American Legends (March 21), both in Bloomington’s Second Presbyterian Church.

Elsewhere: pianist Ingrid Fliter (Feb. 3, U of I Krannert Center); the Hugo Wolf Quartet (Feb. 19, Krannert Center); Dublin Philharmonic Orchestra (Feb. 26, Krannert Center); pianist Angela Hewitt (March 5, Krannert Center); Jupiter String Quartet (March 17, Krannert Center); National Philharmonic of Russia (April 14, Krannert); Pacifica Quartet with Erik Ronmark (April 16, Krannert Center); pianist Charles Rosen (April 22, Krannert Center); and violinist-composer Mark O’Connor (May 2, Peoria Civic Center).


On the local front, the offerings include: Alvin Ailey’s Ailey II (Jan. 30, Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts); IWU’s Dance Concert 2009 (April 7-12, McPherson Theatre); the annual ISU Dance Theatre Spring Concerts (April 30-May 2, ISU Center for the Performing Arts);

Traditional spring performances by the McLean County Dance Center, Twin Cities Ballet and USA Ballet also are in the offing.

Elsewhere: Russian National Ballet Theatre (“Giselle,” Jan. 22, Sangamon Auditorium; “Sleeping Beauty,” Jan. 23-24, U of I Krannert Center); Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance (Feb. 16, U of I Assembly Hall; Feb. 17, Peoria Civic Center); the Mark Morris Dance Group’s Romeo & Juliet (March 13-14, Krannert Center); Hubbard Street Dance Chicago (April 16, Sangamon Auditorium); and Ronald K. Brown: Evidence, A Dance Company (April 21, Krannert Center).

Etc., etc.

In the realm of things not easily pigeon-holed, Twin Cities venues will host the second edition of I.C.E. World Championship Ice Racing (Jan. 24, U.S. Cellular Coliseum).

Outside Twin Cities limits, odds-and-ends attractions include: the Harlem Globetrotters (Jan. 9, U of I Assembly Hall; Jan. 10, Peoria Civic Center; Jan. 13, Prairie Capital Convention Center); WWE Raw/ECW Live (Jan. 30, Assembly Hall); the big-trucks-don’t-cry opus Monster Jam (Feb. 6-7, Peoria Civic Center; Feb. 20-22, Prairie Capital Convention Center); National Acrobats of China (Feb. 8, Sangamon Auditorium; Feb. 10-11, U of I Krannert Center); Ensemble Galilei with NPR’s Neal Conan in First Person: Stories From Around the World (Feb. 21, Sangamon Auditorium); Montreal’s Cirque Eloize (March 3-4, Krannert Center); Chinese acrobatic troupe Jungua, Descendents of the Dragon (March 11, Kirkland Fine Arts Center); and another Euro-circus opus, Cirque Dreams: Jungle Fantasy (April 22, Sangamon Auditorium).

Christian Music News Source

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