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Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014 12:01 am

An exciting, eclectic season at Sangamon Auditorium


The April Verch Band performs Jan. 16
PHOTO COURTESY SANGAMON AUDITORIUM

 

From singer-songwriters to international cultural ambassadors, from children’s entertainment to the blues, from gritty rock to glitzy musicals to a beloved comedian, the 2014-2015 season at Sangamon Auditorium runs the gamut.

Americana
Several of this year’s musical acts fit neatly in the very popular Americana genre. Willie Nelson might not be playing at the State Fair as was so often the case in years past, but he is playing during it. The outlaw country icon is, indeed, on the road again and will be appearing at the auditorium this coming Tuesday, Aug. 12. Nelson’s fellow Texan Sarah Jarosz (Sept. 28) is a young, Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter who has been featured on such prestigious programs as Austin City Limits and A Prairie Home Companion. Sarah is also the granddaughter of Springfield’s Fred Jarosz. Skipping ahead to early next year, Jan. 16 will find Canadian fiddler, step-dancer and songwriter April Verch leading her band through a variety of material in multiple styles. The following month, married banjo virtuosos Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn will be picking – and perhaps even grinning – on Feb. 20, and will have beloved bluegrass titans the Del McCoury Band opening the show for them to boot.

Classic rock
Aug. 28 is sure to be a “night in white satin” when the Moody Blues take the stage as the first of three major rock and roll acts of 1960s-era provenance making their way to the auditorium this season. In addition, flautist Ian Anderson will be playing favorites by his old band Jethro Tull (“Aqualung”) on Oct. 17. Roger McGuinn’s jangly Rickenbacker guitar sound was his calling card as leader of folk-rock heroes The Byrds and he will be performing solo on May 14.
 
Performance art
The realm of pure performance can be hard to define but we know it when we see it. The Blue Man Group (Sept. 5 and 6) and STOMP (Jan. 26) both incorporate heavily rhythmic music into their theatrical approaches in ways that are both viscerally exciting but very different from each other, with the Blue Men’s multimedia (and often humorous) approach contrasting with the STOMP-ers sheer, percussive physicality. Also incorporating live music and movement, Mark Morris Dance Group will make a stop on its “Excursions” tour on Oct. 19;   Timber! is the latest revue from Quebecois troupe Cirque Alfonse, which incorporates “unusual acrobatic apparatus[es] inspired directly from the forestry resources available on their real-life family farm” according to the group’s website.

Comedy
Bill Cosby (Oct. 5) has been one of the most successful and popular names in comedy for more than 50 years. Originally known for his nightclub act and albums beginning in the 1960s, the now 77-year old Cosby has shown astonishing career longevity, becoming a favorite of multiple generations, following his Saturday morning cartoon show Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids in the ’70s with the smash ’80s sitcom The Cosby Show. In recent years he has perhaps been most visible as a social critic and activist but by multiple accounts remains a consummate standup comedian, revered by prominent younger comics such as Louis C.K.

U.S. cultural legacy
O Sole Trio will take audiences on a trip through musical history with their revue “From Prima Donna to Post-Madonna, How Italy and Italian-Americans Influenced American Popular Music” on Oct. 10. Chicago Blues Weekend commences Dec. 5 with a screening of the film Born in Chicago featuring appearances from Buddy Guy, B.B. King, Keith Richards, Bob Dylan and Jack White, among other prominent musicians. The next day will see the Chicago Blues Reunion concert with Barry Goldberg, Nick “The Greek” Gravenites, Harvey “The Snake” Mandel, Corky Siegel, Gary Mallaber and Rick Reed.

International
Performers from around the world have graced the Auditorium stage for years and the tradition continues with The National Acrobats of the People’s Republic of China (Oct. 24) followed by traditional African musicians Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Blues the following day; fans of South American sounds can look forward to the Feb. 8 appearance by Tango Buenos Aires doing their “Song of Eva Peron” show; and the Irish music lover in your life won’t want to miss Dervish on March 13.

Mamma Mia! comes to Sangamon Auditorium on Feb. 26
PHOTO COURTESY SANGAMON AUDITORIUM

 

Touring theater

This season also promises great access to national theatrical touring companies with the musicals Anything Goes (Nov. 2) ; Sister Act (Dec. 19); Mamma Mia! (Feb. 26); and the return of Million Dollar Quartet (May 3). Also returning will be Neil Berg and Rita Harvey with a set of Broadway tunes on June 27. Dec. 1 will see a special holiday performance of All is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914, by male vocal group Cantus.

Non-musical touring productions this season include The Elephant Wrestler on Feb. 3 and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (March 4).  For the younger set, Jumpin’ Jazz Kids will present A Swinging Jungle Tale on March 31 while the Peter Pan prequel Peter and the Starcatcher takes flight April 26.  

For tickets and further information visit www.uis.edu/SangamonAuditorium or telephone 217-206-6160 or 800-207-6960.

Contact Scott Faingold a sfaingold@illinoistimes.com.

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