“Guys and Dolls” took the stage at Rivertown Theaters for the Performing Arts in September. Photo by John Barrois
Front & Center
Building toward the future
One of the most important activities that local theater groups undertake each year is the education of future members of the drama community. In some cases, the targets of the education are adults who are interested, but lack experience, in writing, producing, directing and the like.
In other instances, troupes focus their efforts on youngsters, because they know that if kids get interested in theater at a young age, they are more likely to engage with, or at least support, the stage later on.
The programs the troupes have created for these purposes are diverse. One currently under way is “The Mad Scientist’s Guide to Playwriting” being presented by playwright Jim Fitzmorris weekly at The Theatre at St. Claude.
Instructor Fitzmorris takes students into his “laboratory of ideas and experiments” to help them sharpen their writing, “create a spooky monologue” for production and complete a 10-minute play.
The program includes a Halloween weekend performance of monologues entitled “Tiny Tales of Terror” and a final reading of every student’s play with professional actors and directors. Contact Jim at 504-638-6326 or firstname.lastname@example.org for information about future programs.
Goat gets serious
Another interesting educational effort is under way by Goat in the Road Productions. “My Best Friend is an Alien” is the troupe’s traveling performance, presenting four student-written plays performed by professional actors. Goat in the Road presents the plays, this year written by fifth-, sixth- and seventh-graders, in New Orleans schools. Each play features a short video introduction by the student playwright. To book a 45-minute performance, contact Shannon Flaherty at email@example.com.
Classes at Southern Rep
More traditional education programs are a staple at Southern Repertory Theatre, where the “School to Stage Pipeline” gives students from 4 to 18 years of age the chance to participate in their own productions. Led by education director Helen Jaksch, the program aims “to help bring out the silliest, happiest, boldest, most creative artists” from the young local student population.
Southern Rep offers after-school workshops in the fall and spring, and summer camps for kids. The theater also offers a limited number of need-based scholarships for the programs.
In addition, Southern Rep presents theatre classes for teens and seniors. Both programs run twice weekly at the Gernon Brown Center on Harrison Avenue, through mid-December. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 504-523-9857 for more information on all of Southern Rep’s educational efforts.
Anthony Bean puts kids first
Now is a good time to get a jump start on next summer’s program for kids at Anthony Bean Community Theatre. The ABCT summer program is an eight-week camp for ages 8 to 17 that includes acting classes and workshops, guest lectures and guest performances. It covers play-writing, performance, production, costuming, lighting and set-building, and it culminates in a performance put on by the kids. On Friday of each week they participate in a talent show designed to encourage and showcase their imagination. Call 504-862-7529 for more information.
Curtain up at Rivertown
One of the most vigorous local programs for kids is the annual summer camp put on by Rivertown Theaters for the Performing Arts. Each July, the theaters run by Kelly Fouchi and Gary Rucker team up with Encore Studio of Dance, Tumbling, Music and Theater to hold a three-week musical theater camp. Students get to perform on Rivertown’s main stage, using the set, lights, mics, props and effects from a recent adult production. And they benefit from one-on-one training by professionals to learn all aspects of a theater production.
Rivertown also operates mini-camps for kids entering kindergarten through second grade. Contact email@example.com or call 504-461-9475 for more details.
POWER TO THE PEOPLE
Consumed by politics and political issues this fall? Consider gathering some friends together and mixing it up with The NOLA Project.
“This season is very much informed by an examination of our political situation,” says Artistic Director A.J. Allegra. He says the season will reflect “a great sense of change that we feel both as a nation and as a city settling into our new normality a decade-plus after our great national redefinition.”
Allegra says that NOLA Project’s plays will resonate with people who are at odds with their political system. The players will express these conflicts “by humorous, frank, exaggerated and fantastical means,” he says.
Bearing him out, the season launched with a rollicking look at “a dystopian metropolis where a terrible water shortage caused by a 20-year drought has led to a government-enforced ban on private toilets.” Inspired by the works of Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill, “Urinetown” is an irreverent musical satire in which citizens must use public amenities owned by a single malevolent company. Needless to say, hilarity ensues (through Oct. 14 at UNO’s Robert E. Nims Theatre).
The company next turns to an issue equally close to some local hearts in “The Battle for New Orleans” (Nov. 2-19 at St. Alphonsus Art and Cultural Center).
No, it’s not the battle you are thinking of, but rather one centered around a new, upscale food court “masquerading as a community market” that has opened “in a hip (some would say ‘developing’)” New Orleans neighborhood.
In this work, the stage is artfully set for a showdown between grassroots activists and the Establishment to answer the question: Who gets to say what’s best for the city? Playwright Jim Fitzmorris and the NOLA Project team up for the world premiere of this follow-up to 2013’s popular and award-winning piece, “A Truckload of Ink.”
In the spring, watch for NOLA Project’s return to one of their favorite settings, the Sidney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden in City Park, where the company will present “The Three Musketeers.”
The hilarious adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’ classic tale by the company’s Pete McElligott is, in keeping with NOLA Project tradition, “part Monty Python foolishness and part swashbuckling adventure tale.” It’s a “genre” the troupe has become increasingly skilled at during its 13-year history. Be part of the fun (May 9-27) and enjoy one of New Orleans’ most innovative companies in action.
The NOLA Project was a winner of the 2015 National Theatre Company Award as well as numerous local theatre accolades.
See www.nolaproject.com for more details.
ON A HEAVIER NOTE ...
For those in search of more sober reflections on human kind and the body politic, local audiences are fortunate to have the Cripple Creek Theatre Company at hand.
The social issues-minded company recently wrapped up its latest season with a production of Albert Camus’ “Caligula.” The adaptation, by company co-founder and Artistic Director Andrew Vaught, held nothing back and was well-received for the effort.
“All Rome sees Caligula. And Caligula sees nothing but Caligula,” read a promotional blurb for the play. Once again, the company used an age-old tale to present a remarkably contemporary story.
“Cripple Creek sees theatre as a necessary component of civic life – the same as clean water, paved roads and safe streets,” Vaught says of the company’s mission.
Check the website – www.cripplecreektheatre.org – for information about the 2018 season.
WHAT’S OLD IS NEW: MARIGNY OPERA HOUSE
One of New Orleans’ newer performance venues is also one of its older spaces, and it is gradually becoming one of the city’s most popular stages.
The Marigny Opera House is a beautiful, historic structure that in 2014 became home to professional resident dance company the Marigny Opera Ballet. The ballet has just opened its fourth performance season, which its founders say holds the promise of world premieres, “edgy choreography and stellar dancers.”
The ballet favors “classically driven, eclectically styled programs of dance and live music, including original commissioned compositions,” according to co-founder Dave Hurlbert. And the elegant, airy performance space, at 725 St. Ferdinand St., enhances the audience experience.
Originally built in 1853 as the Holy Trinity Catholic Church, which was established for German Catholics of the Faubourg Marigny, the structure found a new use after the parish relocated in 1997. Businessmen Scott King and Hurlbert bought the building for the purpose of restoring it and offering it as a resource to the community.
Hurlbert now bills the structure as “a non-denominational, neighborhood church of the arts” and says its mission is to create bonds among people through celebrations of the arts. Marigny Opera House is supported by a nonprofit foundation.
This year’s season at the Opera House opened with a performance of “Book of Saints,” a new, full-length ballet inspired by the lives of three saints: Teresa of Avila, Francis of Assisi and Sebastian Martyr. New Orleans composer Tucker Fuller wrote the original score, and Teresa Fellion choreographed the show, with music provided by the New Resonance Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Francis Scully.
A celebration of three dances will kick off the holidays (Dec. 1-3) at the Opera House. Dancers will perform “Christmas Cocktails,” by Diogo de Lima, to music provided by New Orleans jazz artist Larry Sieberth. In addition, audiences will enjoy “I Was Told There’d Be Cake,” by Maritza Mercado-Narcisse, and “Diversorios” by Nikki Hefko, set to a Christmas Concerto.
Keep an eye on the Opera House website – www. marignyoperahouse.org – for a lineup of artists and choreographers who will present a January performance of jazz ballet called “Made in New Orleans.” Set to music composed and performed by well-known local musicians, the program will take the stage Jan. 26-28.
Finally, returning after last season’s sold-out performances is “Giselle Deslondes,” a full-length ballet based on the 1840s classic and recast in the 1930s Faubourg Marigny.
KLUBBING IN ST. ROCH
Not far away from the Opera House stands a more modest structure that is part community center, part exhibit and performance space, and known as Art Klub.
Located at 1941 Arts St., in the St. Roch neighborhood, Art Klub will play a role in the upcoming Prospect 4 citywide exhibition with a satellite exhibit called “Scavengers.”
The multi-disciplinary exhibit, opening on Nov. 16, will show how “artists are united by a common interest in the value and life cycle of ordinary objects.” The scavenging artists give new life to what is discarded as they hunt for materials and gather ideas from their surroundings, ultimately reimagining the objects they reclaim as art.
Also on tap this fall is a Gulf Coast playwrights meet-and-read on Oct. 10, and on Nov. 26., a “laboratory in three parts” presented by artist Meryl Murman. “The Aesthetics of Garbage “explores and reflects on “some of the world’s greatest discarded ideas,” Murman says.
Check the website – www.artklub.org – for more details and other scheduled events.
Southern Repertory Theatre
Box office: 504.522.6545
While this crown jewel of local theater readies its beautiful new home in a renovated church, audiences will find its performances on several stages around the city. Check the website for up-to-date details for each performance.
“Fun Home” (through Oct. 22).Regional premiere of the Tony Award-winning musical in which a graphic novelist dives deep into her past to tell the story of the volatile, brilliant man whose temperament and secrets defined her life. Directed by Blake Coheley; Jefferson Turner, music director. At Nims Black Box Theatre, NOCCA.
“Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley” (Nov. 29-Dec. 23).Revisit your favorite Jane Austen characters from “Pride and Prejudice” during the holiday season, in a production directed by Aimée Hayes and Jeffrey Gunshol. At Marquette Hall, Loyola University New Orleans.
“And Tell Sad Stories of the Death of Queens” (March 21-April 1, 2018). Presented in partnership with the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival, Ricky Graham directs a show that explores barely contained desires and passions that erupt during a fateful Mardi Gras holiday.
“Eclipsed” (April 18-May 13, 2018). A regional premiere that follows the riveting story of captive wives of a Liberian rebel officer on a nightmarish detour, during which they shape a hardscrabble sisterhood.
“All the Way” (May 17-27, 2018). This Southern Rep “in the works production” goes behind the scenes of Robert Schenkkan’s vivid dramatization of Lyndon Baines Johnson’s first year in the Oval Office.
Rivertown Theaters for the Performing Arts
325 Minor St.
Under the management of talented artistic directors Gary Rucker and Kelly Fouchi, the lovely theaters near the Mississippi River in Kenner tap a wealth of local talent to the keep the live musical tradition thriving.
“The Odd Couple” (Nov. 2-19). Neil Simon’s classic comedy about two mismatched roommates returns, this time presenting both male and female versions. Director Ricky Graham brings his comedic touch to a hilarious night of poker (for men) and Trivial Pursuit (for ladies).
“Million Dollar Quartet” (Jan. 12-28, 2018). The new smash-hit musical inspired by a 1956 recording session that drew Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins together for the first time. Directed by Michael McKelvey.
“Steel Magnolias” (March 2-18). It’s a Louisiana rite of passage to experience this production live, on stage, and director Ricky Graham does justice to the beloved story.
“Little Shop of Horrors” (May 4-20). Feed the need for musical hilarity with this sci-fi smash that has been delighting audiences for more than 30 years. Directed by Gary Rucker.
“Beauty and the Beast” (July 12-22). The classic fairytale continues to tug at the heartstrings of audiences with wonderful songs and spectacular costumes and sets. Directed by Ricky Graham.
Le Petit Théâtre du Vieux Carré
616 St. Peter St.
Box office: 504-522-2081
A fresh new season of entertainment lies ahead, under artistic director Maxwell Williams. The city’s oldest theatre, beautifully renovated, continues its lineup of popular entertainment and regional premieres of original works.
“Disenchanted!” (Nov. 3-19). Forget the Disney princesses of your childhood as Snow White, Cinderella and The Little Mermaid take the stage to set the record straight in this subversive and empowering musical.
“A Streetcar Named Desire” (March 9-25). The classic story of Blanche DuBois and her collision with her sensuous and brutal brother-in-law, coincides with the annual Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival.
“An Act of God” (May 11-27). After many millennia, God has arrived back on Earth to address some of our deepest questions, in this hit comedy by David Javerbaum.
“Crowns” (June 15-July 1). Told in a mix of gospel, jazz, blues, hip-hop and spoken word, this moving story is told through the eyes of a young African American woman who comes to the South after her brother is killed.
1111 Canal St.
The home of Broadway in New Orleans, the majestic Saenger Theatre regularly hosts performances by national touring musical companies. Between the big musical shows, the theatre presents musical concerts and solo entertainers. See the website for the full lineup.
“Escape to Margaritaville” (Oct. 20-28). Imagine a place where the sun is hot, the ocean is warm and the drinks are cold and plentiful. Featuring original songs and some of Jimmy Buffet’s most beloved hits.
“The King and I” (Nov. 14-19). Two worlds collide in a breathtaking musical set in 1860s Bangkok. The beautiful musical is directed by Bartlett Sher.
“White Christmas” Dec. 19-24). Irving Berlin’s musical classic continues to resonate with audiences of all ages during the holidays.
“An American in Paris” (Jan. 30-Feb. 4). The magic and romance of Paris comes alive with unforgettable congs from George and Ira Gershwin in the newly revamped show that continues racking up awards and accolades.
“The Color Purple” (Feb. 20-25). A woman’s journey to love and triumph in the American South has conquered Broadway in an all-new production that’s as powerful as the original script.
“The Phantom of the Opera” (March 14-25). The production is bigger and better than ever, and promises to thrill audiences with its moving story and spectacular musical score.
“Rent” (April 17-22). The story of an unforgettable year in the lives of seven artists struggling to follow their dreams.
The Orpheum Theater
129 Roosevelt Way
The nearly century-old Beaux Arts theater in the heart of New Orleans’ Central Business District returned to life courtesy of owner Roland Von Kurnatowski. One of the few remaining vertical-hall designs in the country, built in 1918, it is again the home of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra (see separate highlights of LPO lineup) as well as other top-notch musical and comedy performers.
Herbie Hancock (Oct. 15). An integral part of the every popular music movement since the 1960s, Hancock remains at the forefront of world music.
Old Crow Medicine Show (Nov. 9). The renowned American string band will perform their newest album, “50 Years of Blonde on Blonde” in its entirety, with two sets and an intermission.
GRiZ (Nov. 11). A champion of the live electronic landscape, GRiZ blends improvised saxophone, guitar and vocals over booming bass lines and creative transitions.
alt-J (Nov. 13). Presented with WMB and Alt 92.3, with special guest NoMBEe.
Holiday Spectacular with the 610 Stompers (Dec. 9-10). The LPO celebrates the season with help from New Orleans’ own band of “Ordinary Men with Extraordinary Moves” and special guest artists.
From the Big Easy to the Big Apple (Feb. 22, 24). A multi-cultural program that evokes the rhythms and sounds of Brazil and previews the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra’s Carnegie Hall debut program.
The Joy Theater
1200 Canal St.
The grand art deco theater regularly hosts hot bands and popular comedians at a location on the Canal Street streetcar line in downtown New Orleans.
Dylan Moran (Oct. 12). Expect a master class in comedy when Moran returns to the U.S. with his new show, “Grumbling Mustard.”
Run the Jewels (Oct.13). A one-off project that quickly evolved into a hip-hop superduo features rappers El-P and Killer Mike. With Denzel Curry and Cuz Lightyear.
Roadcase Royale (Oct. 17). Featuring Nancy Wilson of Heart and Liv Warfield.
Lil Yachty (Oct. 19). Teenage tour rescheduled from August.
Gogol Bordello + Lucky Chops (Oct. 21). Combining elements of punk, Gypsy music, and Brecht-ian cabaret in the story of New York’s immigrant diaspora.
Iron & Wine (Nov. 4). Sam Bearn is a singer-songwriter who captures the emotion and imagination of his audiences with distinctly cinematic songs.
Troyboi (Nov. 18). One of Southeast London’s most closely guarded entertainment secrets has emerged from the shadows.
Hari Kondabolu (Dec. 10). A Brooklyn-based comedian and writer melds progressive punchlines into an artistic program that delights his audiences.
Jefferson Performing Arts Society
6400 Airline Drive
box office: 504-885-2000.
At home in the beautiful Jefferson Performing Arts Center, the organization led by Artistic Director Dennis Assaf offers a line-up of shows sure to excite audiences from around the region. Performances also are on tap at Westwego Performing Arts Theatre and Teatro Wego on the West Bank.
“Chicago the Musical” (Oct. 6-15). This sharp-edged satire set in the Roaring Twenties features a dazzling score.
Pasta & Puccini, annual fundraising gala (Oct. 20). See website for ticket information for the gala at Sheraton New Orleans Hotel.
“Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus,” (Oct. 27). The off-Broadway hit comedy comes to Jefferson Performing Arts Center.
“Caroline, or Change” (Oct. 27-Nov. 5). Set in 1963 Louisiana, a provocative story of political, social and pocket change. At Westwego Performing Arts Theatre.
Butch Caire’s Holly Jolly TV Christmas Special (Dec. 1-10). With special guest star Becky Allen, the show brings fond memories of the holiday TV variety specials from the 1960s. At Westwego Performing Arts Theatre.
“Tuck Everlasting” (Dec. 8-17). Eleven-year-old Winnie Foster yearns for a life of adventure beyond her white picket fence, but gets more than she could have imagined.
“The Hunchback of Notre Dame” (Feb. 23-March 4). A lushly scored retelling of Victor Hugo’s epic story of love, acceptance and what it means to be a hero.
“Catch Me if You Can” (April 13-22). The high-flying musical comedy about chasing your dreams and not getting caught.
“Alice in Wonderland” (May 18-20). A storybook ballet in two acts retells the classic Lewis Carroll story in dance.
Classical Performance Profiles
Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra
1010 Common Street
Box office: 504.523.6530
The LPO mounts another grand season under director and principal conductor Carlos Miguel Prieto, and is at home in the grand Orpheum Theater. The LPO also continues to perform concerts at other venues as well. Educational programming continues with Band Together, for high school students, and the Early Explorers program helps students find connections between math and music. Check the website for updated details of all events.
Halloween Spooktacular Family Concert (Oct. 15). Featuring classic music’s delightfully spooky music. Come dressed in your favorite costume!
Beethoven Violin Concerto (Oct. 20). With Mendelssohn’s “Reformation,” featuring viollinist Paul Huang, with guest conductor Markus Huber.
Prieto Conducts Dvorak 7 (Oct. 27). International Tchaikovsky Competition winning cellist Pablo Ferrandez joins the LPO for his U.S. debut for a concert of troubled works, including Bartok’s Suite from “The Miraculous Mandarin,” Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto and Dvorak’s Symphony No. 7.
Star Wars and Beyond, the Music of John Williams (Nov. 3, 5). Enjoy music by the famed film score composer from “Star Wars,” “Superman,” “Jurassic Park” and more.
Tchaikovsky’s “Pathetique” (Nov. 16, 17, 18). Also including Mendelssohn’s Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage, and R. Strauss’ Horn Concerto No. 1, with guest conductor Karina Canellakis and horn soloist Mollie Pate.
Romance and Fantasy (Jan. 4-5) Internationally acclaimed violinist Ray Chin performs Max Bruch’s “Scottish Fantasy” as a whimsical interlude to other romance-inspired pieces.
New Orleans Opera Association
935 Gravier St., Suite 1940
Box office: 504.529.3000, 800.881.4459
Artistic Director Robert Lyall leads another season filled with drama, grandeur and thrilling voices, performed in the Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts.
“Cavalleria Rusticana” and “Pagliacci” (Oct. 6-8). In honor of those first historic performances in 1943, NOOA stages a new production of opera’s most famous double bill. Mascagni’s Sicillian melodrama, “Cavalleria Rusticana” features tenor Dominick Chenes, Dana Beth Miller as his fallen ex-lover Santuzza and bass-baritone Wayne Tigges. Leoncavallo’s “Pagliacci” notches up the drama with a clown driven to madness and murder, featuring Frank Porretta, Jessica Rose Cambio and Tigges.
Offenbach’s “Orpheus in the Underworld” (Nov. 10,12). The composer’s outrageous parody of the famous Orpheus legend from Greek mythology hilariously poked fun at 19th century French politics.
“Tabasco” (Jan. 25-27). We celebrate Louisiana’s classically spicy sauce as international conductor Paul Mauffray brings his edition of George Whitfield Chadwick’s delightful score to life.
“Champion” (March 9, 11). An opera in jazz by native son and jazz trumpeter Terence Blanchard, this is the complex story of welterweight boxer Emile Griffith. We travel through his broken memories as a boxing champion and a gay man in the 1960s.
Diamond Jubilee (April 20, 22). We celebrate 75 years of New Orleans opera with a night of historic memories, and local and international stars.
“The Medium” (June 1, 3). Gian Carlo Menotti’s opera follows Madame Flora, a charlatan who holds seanaces for bereaved customers, but later undergoes a crisis of conscience.
New Orleans Ballet Association
Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts
Box office: 504.522.0996
The central Gulf region’s premiere presenting organization dedicated solely to dance, the association offers another season of main stage and educational programs featuring world-class dance companies and artists.
Ballet Hispanico (Oct. 21). Led by charismatic Cuban-American director Eduardo Vilaro, this company has become an ambassador of Latino culture and dance itself.” This stylish company features some of the most technically accomplished and musical performers in contemporary dance, and they bring a virtuosic evening that includes Vilaro’s electrifying tribute to Cuban dance.
Aspen Sata Fe Ballet (Nov. 10). Always at the forefront of American dance with its innovative, sleek style, adventurous repertoire and dedication to new works, this troupe is led by Jean-Philippe Malaty and celebrated Joffrey Ballet dancer Tom Mossbrucker. The company brings a joyous program to the intimate NOCCA stage with stunning ballets by innovative masters. At Freda Lupin Memorial Hall, NOCCA. Co-presented with The NOCCA Institute.
Tango Fire (Jan. 27). Ten glamorous dancers and a quartet of fine musicians ignite the stage with a blazing hot, Broadway-style show of sexy and stupendous tango. Directed by international superstar German Cornejo, this fiery ensemble of world champion tango couples from Buenos Aires expertly performs all of the lightning fast, precise footwork and sensational acrobatic partnering of authentic Argentine tango.
Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo in Romeo & Juliette (Feb. 24). Shakespeare’s tale of the most famous star-crossed lovers gets an exotic French twist in a stunningly imaginative interpretation by renowned choreographer and director Jean-Christophe Maillot. Flawlessly performed with impeccable artistry by an exquisite company of 50 dancers and set to the romantic Prokofiev score, this ultra-modern staging of “Romeo & Juliette” is a must-see event for ballet enthusiasts and new audiences alike.
Hubbard Street Dance Chicago (April 7). Celebrating 40 years as a driving force of American contemporary dance, the company returns with a special anniversary program that spotlights master works from its illustrious history. From Resident Choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo’s newest creation and trail-blazing first hit by the brilliant Nacho Duato to the poetic dances of Crystal Pite and a jazzy swing classic by founding Artistic Director Lou Conte, this versatile and virtuosic ensemble will take your breath away.