Virginia Arts Festival announces new season with firsts
Bringing back favorites and unveiling firsts, the Virginia Arts Festival announced its upcoming season on Thursday evening.
The 23rd season will open and close with Broadway productions, and bring dozens of other acts to the region that meet the standard, as VAF executive director Rob Cross said, of bringing a “wow factor” to Hampton Roads and drawing patrons from the rest of the country.
“If you have a pulse and like the arts, you’re going to find something here,” Cross said.
Tony-award winning singer Kristin Chenoweth opens the official season on April 12 with her first trip to the festival. Norfolk native and Broadway music director Rob Fisher is working with her to produce a really big show with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra.
The bookend to that opening will be a May 19 concert by Michael Feinstein, known as the curator of the Great American Songbook.
Common threads are woven through the season: Shakespeare, opportunities for young people to work with world-class performers, and 2019 Commemoration, American Evolution, which is celebrating the 400th anniversary of events in Virginia that define America.
Dance Theater of Harlem is marking its 50th anniversary next year, and will give the world premiere in May of a work commissioned by the VAF and American Evolution. The event places the VAF within a national movement to have women choreographers creating new ballet, as acclaimed choreographer Claudia Schreier and composer Jessie Montgomery develop the new dance and original music.
The Richard Alston Dance Company, in a pre-festival performance, will present a program of works never done in this country, including another new work commissioned by the VAF and American Evolution. Members of the company will arrive in Hampton Roads a week before the March 21 performance to work with local dance students, with the goal of including some of them in the show, Cross said.
Courtesy of the Virginia Arts Festival
Kristin Chenoweth performs April 12 at Chrysler Hall in Norfolk.
Kristin Chenoweth performs April 12 at Chrysler Hall in Norfolk. (Courtesy of the Virginia Arts Festival)
Another pre-festival performance will give a similar opportunity to students at the Governor’s School for the Arts and Booker T. Washington High School in Norfolk. Opera stars Lawrence Brownlee and Eric Owens will arrive ahead of their March 3 concert at the Attucks Theatre to work with local students.
The highlight of a sort of mini-Shakespeare festival will be the performances of “Anthony and Cleopatra” with music by French composer Florent Schmitt (1870-1958) on May 17 and 18. Bill Barclay, director of music at Shakespeare’s Globe in London, will direct the production, which has been done only twice, in London and at the Hollywood Bowl. Costumed actors will perform the play while the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, conducted by music director JoAnn Falletta, plays the music.
Fans of the Bard of Avon can also look forward to the return of the Reduced Shakespeare Company with “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)” May 7-12, and the festival debut of “The Handlebards,” a troupe from the U.K. that carries its props and costumes from show to show on bicycles, and even raises the curtain by pedaling a bike. The plan is for them to do a show on the Peninsula and then bike to their date in South Hampton Roads, Cross said, though they’ll have to use a ferry to get over the water. With Olga Kern in her first year as Connie & Marc Jacobson Director of Chamber Music, the season’s chamber music concerts will feature all new faces and performances by Kern, an internationally known pianist. At least one of the performers, violinist Tasmin Little, will be working with young local musicians. The Virginia International Tattoo, the nation’s largest spectacle of military music and drill teams, will have as its theme: a Salute to Women in the M ilitary.
The season’s Fringe Festival will include the return of singer Storm Large and “At the Illusionist’s Table,” a night of fine dining and magic with Scott Silven. After a total sellout last year, the festival has added dates for “Table.”
Andrew Eccles | Decca
Renée Fleming is scheduled to perform Feb. 23, 2019, at Sandler Center for the Performing Arts.
Renée Fleming is scheduled to perform Feb. 23, 2019, at Sandler Center for the Performing Arts. (Andrew Eccles | Decca)
However, the Bruce Hornsby-led Funhouse Fest will not come off this year. Cross said that Hornsby is taking a break from the Funhouse Fest after three years, and VAF is planning something to replace the Williamsburg event this season.
For information on the season and buying tickets, visit www.vafest.org.
Here’s a look at the schedule:
Best of Broadway
Kristin Chenoweth, with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra and Rob Fisher, 8 p.m. April 12, Chrysler Hall, Norfolk
Michael Feinstein, Great American Songbook, 4 p.m. May 19, Sandler Center for the Performing Arts, Virginia Beach
Dance Theatre of Harlem, 8 p.m. May 3 and 4, 3 p.m. May 5, Chrysler Hall, Norfolk
Richard Alston Dance Company, 7:30 p.m. March 21, Chrysler Hall
Jessica Lang Dance, 3 p.m. April 14, Chrysler Hall
Pilobolus, 8 p.m. May 10, Sandler Center for the Performing Arts, Virginia Beach
Renée Fleming, soprano, 8 p.m. Feb. 23, Sandler Center
Lawrence Brownlee, tenor, and Eric Owens, bass-baritone, 7 p.m. March 3, Attucks Theatre, Norfolk
Cantus, a capella ensemble, 7:30 p.m. April 30, Norfolk Academy, Norfolk
Soweto Gospel Choir, 7 p.m. Dec. 3, First Baptist Church, 418 E. Bute St., Norfolk
The King’s Singers, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 20, Christ & St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Norfolk; and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 21, St. Bede Catholic Church, Williamsburg
Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra, 8 p.m. May 17, Ferguson Center for the Arts, Newport News; and 8 p.m. May 18, Chrysler Hall.
Reduced Shakespeare Company, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged), 7:30 p.m. May 7-9, 8 p.m. May 10, 3 and 8 p.m. May 11, and 3 p.m. May 12, Zeiders American Dream Theater, Virginia Beach.
The Handlebards, details to be announced
Olga Kern, piano recital, 7:30 p.m. April 16, TCC Roper Performing Arts Center, Norfolk
Dalí Quartet with Olga Kern, 7:30 p.m. May 13, Robin Hixon Theater, Norfolk
Jupiter String Quartet, 7:30 p.m. April 29, Robin Hixon Theater, Norfolk
Coffee Concert I, Olga Kern, piano; Tasmin Little, violin; Nina Kotova, cello, 10:30 a.m. April 18, Williamsburg Winery, James City County
Coffee II, Olga Kern, piano; Tasmin Little, violin; Nina Kotova, cello, 10:30 a.m. April 19, Miller Studio Theatre, Sandler Center
Coffee III, Jupiter Quartet, 10:30 a.m. April 30, St. John’s Episcopal Church, Portsmouth
Coffee IV, Dalí Quartet; Olga Kern, piano, 10:30 a.m. May 15, Robin Hixon Theater, Norfolk
Coffee V, Dalí Quartet; Olga Kern, piano, 10:30 a.m. May 16, Williamsburg Winery, James City County
Virginia International Tattoo
A Salute to Women in the Military, 7:30 p.m. April 25-27, 2:30 p.m. April 28, Scope, Norfolk
Transfigured Nights, 7:30 p.m. May 8, TCC Roper Performing Arts Center, Norfolk
Bach Celebration, 7 p.m. April 14, Christ & St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Norfolk
Jason Vieaux, guitar, 8 p.m. April 15, Robin Hixon Theater, Norfolk
Ken Cowan, organ, 4 p.m. May 12, Christ & St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Norfolk
Jazz and blues
Béla Fleck and Chick Corea, 8 p.m. May 11, Sandler Center
Theo Croker Quintet, 7:30 p.m. May 9, Zeiders
Music Maker Blues Revue, 7 p.m. May 2, Roger Brown’s, Portsmouth
Storm Large, vocalist, 8 p.m. April 13, Granby Theater, Norfolk
At the Illusionist’s Table, An Intimate Magic Dinner Experience, 7 p.m. May 7-10 and May 14-17; 5 and 8:30 p.m. May 11 and May 18; 4 and 7:30 p.m. May 12 and May 19, Byrd and Baldwin Bros., Norfolk
I’m With Her, 7:30 p.m. May 23, Sandler Center
Dan Duke, 757-446-2545, firstname.lastname@example.org?