By Jodi Heckel, Illinois News Bureau
The Krannert Center for the Performing Arts will bring a variety of touring artists to its stages for the 2022-23 season, although at a smaller scale than during its pre-COVID-19 seasons. The performances include several rescheduled events whose original dates had to be canceled due to the pandemic.
Last year, Krannert Center featured in-person performances for ELLNORA: The Guitar Festival, and its season included a combination of in-person events and online offerings. The performing arts community is still feeling the effects of the pandemic, from an increased financial risk of touring to difficulty finding safe rehearsal spaces, said Emily Laugesen, KCPA’s co-director of engagement.
“We’re grateful for everything we are able to do and aim to move forward in a way that is manageable and healthy for the community,” Laugesen said. “We want to create opportunities through the arts for people to come together in community, whether it’s a joyful experience or a more thoughtful one. We hope people find that in the various offerings of the season.”
Krannert Center’s opening weekend is Sept. 9-10. The Friday evening performances, which are free, begin in the outdoor amphitheater with Gracie and Rachel, a pianist and violinist duo who have toured with Tori Amos. They are followed by performances in the Krannert Center lobby by Mariachi Herencia de México, a Latin Grammy-winning group of teenage musicians from Chicago, and The Soul Rebels, a band of horns and drums that blends the New Orleans brass tradition with funk and soul.
Early season artists include jazz and blues artists Mwenso and The Shakes, and the Alfredo Rodriguez Trio – Cuban musicians with classical and folk music backgrounds playing Afro-Cuban jazz in a club-style setting. The Chicago Immigrant Orchestra is a group of musicians from Chicago’s immigrant community that plays a fusion of world music traditions. Their appearance is in collaboration with the Center for Global Studies and the International and Area Studies Library and is free to anyone affiliated with the University of Illinois.
Toronto-based Why Not Theatre will present “Prince Hamlet,” a unique interpretation of “Hamlet” that asks who gets to tell this story. The production features gender-reversal casting with women in the roles of Hamlet, Horatio and Polonius, and it will be performed with a combination of English and American Sign Language.
The Foellinger Great Hall is the unexpected venue for CIRCA Contemporary Circus of Australia, with performances that are a blend of circus, theater, acrobatics and dance. The group will perform its show “Sacre,” an interpretation of Igor Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring” that expresses the traditional orchestral music and a contemporary composition through movement.
The ensemble theater group SITI Company is in its 30th and final season. For its final tour, the group is reviving one of its early works, “The Medium,” a meditation on technology that draws on the writings of Marshall McLuhan and “puts our modern technocratic dilemmas front-and-center.”
The Great Hall Classical Series begins in October with the Los Angeles Master Chorale performing “Lagrime di San Pietro (Tears of St. Peter),” a choral piece that includes choreography and depicts the seven stages of grief that St. Peter experienced. The five-event Classical Series includes pianist Lang Lang performing J.S. Bach’s “Goldberg Variations,” as well as the Lviv National Philharmonic Orchestra of Ukraine and the return of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
Vision Duo, composed of a violinist and percussionist, kicks off the Sunday Salon Series with its interpretations of chamber music, classical works and contemporary pieces. The Salon Series includes a performance by the Aizuri Quartet, winner of the 2022 Cleveland Quartet Award.
Spring semester performances begin with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis.
Krannert Center’s Youth Series returns in the spring with in-person events for area school groups. The first performance is “Jabari Dreams of Freedom,” a play set during the Barack Obama presidency in which a boy who experiences a difficult encounter with police escapes through his artwork to meet his hero, Obama, as a boy. Jabari meets other children of the civil rights movement who share their experiences of advocating against racism. The Youth Series also includes “Cenicienta: A Bilingual Cinderella Story” and a multimedia JazzReach presentation on Latin jazz.
The season’s dance performances range from traditional to contemporary offerings. The modern dance group Pilobolus is bringing its “Big Five-Oh!” 50th anniversary tour to Krannert Center in September. The group will perform a remixed selection of pieces from throughout its history of performances.
In February, Dublin Irish Dance will perform traditional Irish dance and music using Celtic instruments. Choreographer and performer Lil Buck tells the story of a unique Memphis street-dance style in “Memphis Jookin’: The Show,” in March. The Mark Morris Dance Group returns in April to its Midwest home with “The Look of Love,” a new production set to the music of Burt Bacharach.
The Queen’s Cartoonists play classical and jazz music featured in vintage cartoons such as Bugs Bunny, Tom and Jerry, and The Pink Panther, as well as contemporary anime cartoons.
The opera “Parable of the Sower,” based on Octavia Butler’s dystopian novel, comes to KCPA on April 28-29. Toshi Reagon, a composer, musician, musical director and producer, created the opera with her mother, the singer and composer Bernice Johnson Reagon. It was originally scheduled to be performed in February as part of the yearlong project Parable Path CU, led by Krannert Center and featuring events related to the novel. The performance was postponed due to COVID-19-related production difficulties.
Series tickets are on sale now. Tickets for individual events will go on sale in two-month blocks. Tickets will be sold online only as mobile or print-at-home tickets, not by phone or at the ticket office. Before buying tickets, visit Krannert Center’s online ticket office at krannertcenter.com to ensure that you have or can create an active account. For questions about ticket buying, contact the ticket office at (217) 333-6280 or [email protected]
The public sale dates for tickets for the 2022-23 season are:
- Aug. 10 for September-October events
- Sept. 28 for November-December events
- Dec. 7 for January-February events
- Jan. 25 for March-April-May events