The Center for the Performing Arts at Penn State’s 2014–15 season features 28 performances from around the globe, including the touring Broadway musicals “Mamma Mia!,” “Camelot” and “Sister Act.” The five-time Tony Award-winning play “Peter and the Starcatcher,” Celtic favorites The Chieftains, folk singer-songwriter Rosanne Cash and new-wave classical ensembles are also highlights.
“We have many favorite artists and shows returning this season, along with other artists and productions appearing for the first time on our stages,” said George Trudeau, director for the Center for the Performing Arts. “I love that our audiences are always ready for new experiences, to come check out artists that they may be unfamiliar with. It is always special for me to be with an audience where many are having that amazing revelatory first-time encounter.”
Tickets for the Center for the Performing Arts presentations—on stage September 2014 through April 2015 at Eisenhower and Schwab auditoriums—go on sale June 9 to Center for the Performing Arts members, June 16 to Choice series (four or more center presentations purchased together) patrons, June 19 to groups of 10 or more and June 23 to the general public. Tickets also go on sale for a Penn State School of Music featured concert, “Mosaic,” and the Penn State College of Arts and Architecture’s production of “La Bohème.” Eligible patrons may purchase tickets by phone at 814-863-0255 or 1-800-ARTS-TIX, in person at Eisenhower or the Penn State Downtown Theatre Center, or by mail-in order form. Visit new season for complete details about the events or to download an order form.
The season opens Sept. 25 with Regina Carter. Considered one of the foremost jazz violinists of her generation, Carter draws from a well of influences including classical, jazz, Motown, swing, funk and world music. In “Southern Comfort” she includes a blend of folk songs and spirituals serving as an interpretation of her ancestors’ Alabama roots through a modern lens.
Touring Broadway musical presentations include the crowd-pleasing “Mamma Mia!” on Oct. 23, followed by a new adaptation of “Camelot” on Nov. 18. Making its Center for the Performing Arts debut this season is Broadway’s musical comedy smash hit “Sister Act” on Feb. 10. Experience a hilarious evening of madcap fun with “Peter and the Starcatcher” on April 21.
Tony Award-winning actor and Broadway baritone Brian Stokes Mitchell performs songs from memorable musicals in “Simply Broadway” on Oct. 17. Mitchell earned a Tony for best actor in “Kiss Me, Kate”; was nominated for his performances in “Man of La Mancha,” “Ragtime” and “King Hedley II”; and is also known for his extensive television and film career.
Cirque Alfonse’s “Timber!” on Oct. 8 features Quebec acrobats and folk musicians who defy gravity and perform feats of agility and strength inspired by the exploits of the first North American lumberjacks and farmers. Diavolo, a Los Angeles company that performs works it describes as “architecture in motion,” reinvents dance, reimagines theater and redefines thrills on Jan. 27.
The season includes seven classical concerts and an array of artist interaction opportunities. The Moscow State Symphony Orchestra, one of the oldest concert orchestras in Russia, performs works by Dvořák and Brahms on Nov. 11. American cellist Joshua Roman joins the orchestra for a Saint-Saëns concerto. eighth blackbird presents a work by Aaron Jay Kernis, co-commissioned by the Center for the Performing Arts through its membership in Music Accord, during its April 2 performance. Ensembles expanding classical boundaries this season are Time for Three, calling itself a classically trained garage band, on Feb. 26 and the game-changing Brooklyn Rider, hailed the “future of chamber music,” on April 14.
Amy Dupain Vashaw, audience and program development director for the Center for the Performing Arts, says she is most excited when the center presents an artist that gives a global perspective.
“To that end, I am really excited about the February performance of Antibalas and Zap Mama,” she said. “These two artists coming together will bring the sounds of Africa to us, both in their very distinct and funky way. That’s the kind of risk we love to take—presenting artists many people won’t know, and when the audience experiences it, they just get blown away.”
The King’s Singers, one of the world’s most celebrated vocal ensembles—known as a class act with a delightfully British wit—will dazzle the audience with “Great American Songbook” on Feb. 17. The Chieftains bring a Celtic flair to the stage on March 3 as part of the band’s annual North American tour leading to St. Patrick’s Day, and Americana Music Association award nominee Rosanne Cash performs “The River & The Thread” tour on April 9.
Two big bands are coming this season. Brazil’s SpokFrevo Orquestra brings the fiery-tempo music of Carnival to Penn State on Oct. 21, and with its outstanding orchestral sound rooted in jazz tradition, Brussels Jazz Orchestra performs on March 19. French-born jazz singer Cyrille Aimée, described by the Washington Post as having a voice “like a fine whiskey—oaky and smooth, with a hint of smokiness,” performs on Feb. 12.
Through contemporary theater, live music and social media, “Basetrack” offers an intimate view inside the operations in Afghanistan from journalists embedded with the First Battalion, Eighth Marines. Their multimedia reports and reflections connect a broader public to the longest war in U.S. history in a unique performance on Oct. 29.
Egyptian ethnomusicologist Mina Girgis explores the cultural and environmental challenges of the Nile basin using an innovative approach of music, education and enterprise in the April 23 presentation of “The Nile Project.” The concert features 10 musicians and various traditional instruments from countries along the Nile.
For the family, the Center for the Performing Arts on Feb. 6 presents Imago Theatre in “Frogz” with human-sized sloths, escaped penguins, finicky frogs, red-eyed reptiles, personable paper bags, devilish strings and other fanciful things. “The Lightning Thief,” a Theatreworks USA production, brings the fantasy-adventure novel to life in a musical on stage April 12.
For more information about Center for the Performing Arts membership benefits, contact Dave Schaffer at 814-863-1167. Already know you want to become a member? Phone Len Codispot at 814-863-0389.