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Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017 12:06 am

31st Night

First Night Springfield enters its fourth decade of New Year’s Eve arts downtown

 Every New Year’s Eve since Dec. 31, 1987, the Springfield Area Arts Council has thrown a downtown party featuring a wide variety of entertainment. This year’s First Night Springfield promises to be no exception, with kid-friendly fun in the afternoon and music ranging from blues to cowboy yodeling to DIY punk, not to mention the traditional fireworks display at 8 p.m. at Fourth and Capitol.

The afternoon offerings aimed at the younger set include clay sculpture with John T. Crisp, Jr. and face-painting courtesy of Phil Martin, Sara Ratcliffe and Marianne Stremsterfer, both scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. at the Springfield High School commons. Also at the commons will be a puppet show by DePriest Puppets at 1:45 and the trick-roping and yodeling stylings of Cowboy Randy at 2:15. Mark Russillo will lead a harmonica workshop and demonstration at 3 p.m. Over in the Springfield High auditorium, organist Mark Gifford will perform popular favorites at 4:15.

As New Year’s afternoon begins its journey toward evening, much of the First Night Action will take place at various locations throughout the Hoogland Center for the Arts, beginning with singer-songwriter Becky McKnight’s 5 p.m. performance at the SAA Collective’s H.D. Smith art gallery. Also happening at the Hoogland at 5 p.m., Springfield Youth Performance Group will present “an energetic performance for children of all ages” in the LRS Theater, while simultaneously, in the basement dining room of the Hoogland, Hope Institute Stage – an “all-inclusive performance space” – will present performances featuring children from the Hope School Autism Clinic and other local K-12 students. For those in the mood for live improv comedy, the Portuguese Rodeo Clown Company will also be performing at 5 p.m. a block or so away at the Lincoln Library.

Storyteller and multi-instrumentalist Mike Anderson will perform at 6 p.m. in the sanctuary of Central Baptist Church while the Central Illinois Irish Dancers take the stage at the Hoogland’s Theater 3.

Elsewhere on the Hoogland premises at 6 p.m., acoustic duo Jack & Morgan Rogers will play at the H.D. Smith Gallery, while the LRS stage will feature modern dance, courtesy of the Springfield Dance company. Meanwhile at Lincoln Library, Debbie Ross Band will take the stage.

Classical Dances of India will perform in the Hoogland’s Club Room at 6:45, just ahead of the first of two sets of popular piano favorites in the HCFTA’s Theater 3 by Dual Piano (they also play at 8:30).

At 7 p.m. The Springfield Ballet Company will take the LRS stage to perform excerpts from Nutcracker and Rockballet while a storytelling session by the Top Hat Tellers takes place in the Hoogland’s Board Room. Eclectic solo vocalist Monica Hay will perform at 8:30 in the HCFTA dining room, just as folk-bluegrass combo Last Acre is scheduled to begin playing up the street at the Lincoln Home visitors center. Also at 8:30, performers from the Springfield Muni Opera will present a program of show tunes at the LRS Theater, including previews from this summer’s upcoming productions.

As the hour grows later, Black Magic Johnson will bring their swaggering blues vibe to the Lincoln Library beginning at 9:15 and the jazzy, Brazilian-inflected sound of Ocean State will rev up in Hoogland’s basement. At 9:30, vocalist Ian Wick performs at the Lincoln Home’s visitors center and Springfield Theatre Centre will bring its revue of Broadway-style musical performance to HCFTA’s LRS Theater. At 9:45, Capital City Improv will bring its spontaneous comedy inventions to the Hoogland’s Club Room, along with the long-running Elvis Presley tribute known as Elvis HimSelvis (whose career has now lasted considerably longer than that enjoyed by the original Elvis). The acoustic originals and classic songs of Lowder and Manning will start at the Lincoln Home visitors center at 10:30.

Those looking for something a little more noisy and youthful might want to undertake the short journey to the Kari Bedford Photography Studio, 314 E. Monroe Street, where a yet-to-be-announced set of independent acts from the Southtown neighborhood’s stalwart DIY punk venue, the Black Sheep Café, will grace the aptly named Black Sheep Stage.

For further details and a complete schedule of First Night Springfield events, visit http://springfieldartsco.org/first-night/  

Scott Faingold can be reached via sfaingold@illinoistimes.com.

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