Samford University's Leslie S. Wright Fine Arts Center has announced a 2011-2012 season schedule that confirms the school's growing reputation as both a source and focus of arts in the Birmingham area. Celebrating its 35th anniversary in 2011, Wright Center will debut a new performance series, welcome back longtime partners in the arts and introduce three new ones.
The new Wright Center Presents series will offer four shows this season--two in the fall and two in the spring. The series will debut Oct. 21 as the four original cast stars of Broadway's Jersey Boys reunite for The Midtown Men. Tony-Award winner Christian Hoff, Michael Longoria, Daniel Reichard and Tony-Award nominee J. Robert Spencer, star in this one-of-a-kind concert experience celebrating the music that defined the 1960s, singing the hits of The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Jackson Five, The Mamas and The Papas, the Four Seasons and more.
The second Wright Center Presents event on Nov. 18 will offer a night of unforgettable music with the Blind Boys of Alabama and special guest Sara Watkins. Winners of five Grammy Awards and with a history spanning more than 70 years, The Blind Boys of Alabama are recognized worldwide as living legends of gospel music. With their newest album, Take the High Road, the Blind Boys draw from modern and traditional country to enrich the group’s gospel-rooted sound with fresh insight. They’ll be joined by special guest Sara Watkins, formerly of Nickel Creek and now on the road in support of her self-titled debut album.
The Wright Center Presents series will open its spring events March 27 with the Peking Acrobats. The elite group has toured the world since 1958, leaving audiences spellbound by the ancient Chinese art of acrobatics. Carefully selected from the finest acrobatic schools in China, these gymnasts, jugglers, cyclists and tumblers transform 2000-year-old athletic disciplines into an all-ages kaleidoscope of entertainment and wonder.
The new series will close with the internationally acclaimed Ballet Hispanico March 30, part of A Week of Dance at Samford. The performance will include “Espiritu Vivo,”a new work created for Ballet Hispanico by choreographer Ronald K. Brown. The piece explores the intersection of the African and Latino diasporas in the Caribbean and Latin America and features the music of legendary Peruvian singer Susana Baca. The performance is supported in part by National Dance Project of the New England Foundation for the Arts, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and additional funding from the Ford Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Community Connections Fund of the MetLife Foundation.
For the first time in Wright Center, Samfords School of the Arts will present Irving Berlin's holiday musical White Christmas Dec. 1-3. The story of performers who combine their talents to save a failing Vermont inn features classic songs of the holidays. Tickets will be available online at arts.samford.eduor by phone at (205) 726-2853.
Opera Birmingham will bring to the Wright Center stage the world’s most famous opera, Carmen, for two shows March 16 and 18. Tickets for Opera Birmingham’s performances are available online now at operabirmingham.org.
Alabama Ballet will present three shows at Wright Center, including George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker (Dec. 9-18), Swan Lake (Feb. 24-26) and Alice in Wonderland (April 13-15). Tickets for all Alabama Ballet performances are available online now at alabamaballet.org.
The Alabama Dance Festival will make its Wright Center debut Jan. 28-31. The festival, celebrating its 15th Anniversary in 2012, is the largest in Alabama, with over 4,000 participants annually. The Dance Festival will present guest companies Brazz Dance Theater (Jan. 28) and EVIDENCE (Jan. 29). The festival also will present the Alabama Dance Showcase Jan. 30, as well as matinee school performances from the guest companies. Tickets for all Alabama Dance Festival performances will go on sale later this summer.
Also new to Wright Center this season is the Alabama Symphony Orchestra’s SuperPopsseries, presented by Red Diamond. The season opens with bluegrass duo Dailey and Vincent Sept. 23. The remainder of the season includes The Music of Abba by Arrival (Oct. 28), Tony-winner Audra McDonald (Nov. 13), composer Marvin Hamlisch (Jan. 21), country superstar LeAnn Rimes (April 7), Show Boat in Concert (April 21) and The Music of John Williams: An 80th Birthday Tribute (May 5). Tickets for the Alabama Symphony Orchestra shows are available online now through the ASO website at alabamasymphony.org
The Birmingham Music Club, bringing performances to the city for more than a century, also joins Wright Center as a partner this season. The club will present two Oct. 26 matinee performances for area youth. The club will present tenor David Lomeli March 3. The club's second annual "BRAVO! Birmingham" show May 4 will showcase the best of area and regional performers. Tickets for Birmingham Music Club shows will go on sale later this summer.
Season subscriptions for the four Wright Center Presents shows are available now. Single show tickets will go on sale July 18. Discounts are also available by purchasing tickets to any two or more Wright Center Presents shows.
Tickets for Wright Center Presents, the Alabama Dance Festival and the 2011-12 Birmingham Music Club season are available through the Wright Center website at samford.edu/wrightcenter, or by phone at (205) 726-2853.
Leslie S. Wright Fine Arts Center at Samford University
2011-12 Season Schedule
Sept. 23 Alabama Symphony Orchestra SuperPops: Dailey and Vincent
Oct. 7 AMEA Elementary Music Festival
Oct. 15 Miss Samford Scholarship Pageant
Oct. 21 Wright Center Presents: The Midtown Men
Oct. 26 Birmingham Music Club Presents: Maestro Goes to the Movies, a Kid Concert
Oct. 28 Alabama Symphony Orchestra SuperPops: The Music of Abba by Arrival
Oct. 31 Classic Productions Presents: Seussical The Musical
Nov. 13 Alabama Symphony Orchestra SuperPops: Audra McDonald
Nov. 18 Wright Center Presents: The Blind Boys of Alabama with Sara Watkins
Dec. 1-3 Samford School of the Arts Presents: White Christmas
Dec. 9 Alabama Ballet Presents George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker
Dec. 10 Alabama Ballet Presents George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker
Dec. 11 Alabama Ballet Presents George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker
Dec. 16 Alabama Ballet Presents George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker
Dec. 17 Alabama Ballet Presents George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker
Dec. 18 Alabama Ballet Presents George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker
Jan. 7 Samford Honor Band
Jan. 21 Alabama Symphony Orchestra SuperPops: Marvin Hamlisch
Jan. 27 Alabama Dance Festival: Brazz Dance Theater
Jan. 28 Alabama Dance Festival: EVIDENCE, a Dance Company
Jan. 29 Alabama Dance Festival: Alabama Dance Showcase
Feb. 16 Samford University Student Affairs Presents: Step Sing 2012
Feb. 17 Samford University Student Affairs Presents: Step Sing 2012
Feb. 18 Samford University Student Affairs Presents: Step Sing 2012
Feb. 24 Alabama Ballet Presents: Swan Lake
Feb. 25 Alabama Ballet Presents: Swan Lake
Feb. 26 Alabama Ballet Presents: Swan Lake
March 3 Birmingham Music Club Presents: David Lomeli
March 9 Alabama All-State Choral Festival
March 10 Alabama All-State Choral Festival
March 16 Opera Birmingham Presents: Carmen
March 18 Opera Birmingham Presents: Carmen
March 27 Wright Center Presents: The Peking Acrobats
March 30 Wright Center Presents: Ballet Hispanico
April 7 Alabama Symphony Orchestra SuperPops: LeAnn Rimes
April 13 Alabama Ballet Presents: Alice in Wonderland
April 14 Alabama Ballet Presents: Alice in Wonderland
April 15 Alabama Ballet Presents: Alice in Wonderland
April 21 ASO SuperPops: Show Boat in Concert
May 4 Birmingham Music Club Presents: BRAVO! Birmingham
May 5 ASO SuperPops: The Music of John Williams: An 80th Birthday Tribute