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Stellar Cultural Season to Shine on New Orleans

04:00 August 22, 2014
By: Dean Shapiro

A Year's Worth of Great Events on Stage in 2014–15

 As our homegrown superstar performer Becky Allen is fond of saying, “We had culture when the rest of the country only had AGRIculture.”

With nearly three centuries of culture under our belts, New Orleans can boast of first-rate opera and ballet companies and one of the nation’s top philharmonic orchestras. We also have a buzzing theatrical scene with stage productions ranging from Tony-winning Broadway extravaganzas in ornate entertainment palaces, to edgy, experimental small-cast fare in tight-fitting black box theaters.

Here is a rundown of many of the shows coming up during the 2014-15 Cultural Season in New Orleans:

New Orleans Opera Association
Of the four operas being offered this season, three are works from the standard repertoire that have been performed here many times and the fourth production is a local premiere. Two performances of each opera are presented, on Friday nights and Sunday afternoons.

All operas are accompanied by the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Maestro Robert Lyall. They are presented in their original languages with English translations projected above the stage. The operas are:

(in French)
Composer: Georges Bizet
Oct. 10 & 12

(in Czech)
Composer: Antonin Dvorák
Nov. 14 & 16
Lucia Di Lammermoor (in Italian)
Composer: Gaetano Donizetti
March 13 & 15

Le Nozze di Figaro (in Italian)
The Marriage of Figaro
Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
April 10 & 12

All operas are staged in the Mahalia Jackson Theater in Louis Armstrong Park. For tickets and more detailed information call New Orleans Opera at 529-3000 or 529-2278. neworleansopera.org. 

Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra

This season the 70-member LPO will be performing its diverse repertoire in the Mahalia Jackson Theater and various other venues in and around New Orleans. 

The LPO schedule of nearly sixty concerts is too lengthy to list here. Among the highlights of the coming season are the always-popular “Halloween Spooktacular” Family Concert (Oct. 26), Bela Fleck and New World Symphony (Jan. 8), “An Evening with Randy Newman” (Jan. 17), “The Music of Pink Floyd” (May 15) and the season-ending Verdi's “Requiem” (May 23).

The LPO season runs from September 19, 2014, to May 23, 2015. Most concerts are conducted by Maestro Carlos Miguel Prieto, but guest conductors are also called in during the course of the season.
For more detailed information, call 523-6350 or visit lpomusic.com. 

New Orleans Ballet Association
NOBA presents its 2014-2015 season of dance with five world-renowned dance companies. A season highlight on November 7 will be “Stars of American Ballet,” an exciting new dance project featuring a stellar cast of artists from New York City Ballet (NYCB) and San Francisco Ballet, and the return of NYCB star Wendy Whelan.

The performances for the coming season are as follows:
MOMIX in Alchemia
Mahalia Jackson Theater 
Oct. 17 – 8 p.m.

Stars of American Ballet 
Mahalia Jackson Theater 
November 7 – 8 p.m. 

Black Grace 
Mahalia Jackson Theater 
Feb. 28 – 8 p.m. 
Unión Tanguera in “Nuit Blanche” (Sleepless Night)
NOCCA’s Freda Lupin Memorial Hall 
March 20-22
Fri. & Sat. – 8 p.m.; Sun. – 2 p.m.

Limón Dance Company
Mahalia Jackson Theater 
May 9 – 8 p.m.

For tickets and information call 522-0996 or visit their website, nobadance.com. Single tickets may also be purchased through Ticketmaster by calling 1-800-745-3000 or visitingticketmaster.com. 

Broadway in New Orleans
“Broadway in New Orleans,” the traveling showcase of hit musicals from the Great White Way, returns to the Saenger Theatre, 1111 Canal Street, for a second season since its reopening in September 2013.
Another stellar lineup fills the marquee for the 2014-2015 season, with a record seven regularly scheduled shows, including a non-subscription feature. The productions are:

Oct. 7 – 12

The Phantom of the Opera
Nov. 5 – 16

Dirty Dancing
Dec. 16 – 21

Mamma Mia*
Jan. 13 – 18
Feb. 3 – 8 

March 17 – 12

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
April 14 – 19

For more information, visit neworleans.broadway.com or call 1-800-218-SHOW (7469). 
*Season Special; not included in regular ticket subscription package

Le Petit Theatre
In addition to Broadway classics and revivals, Le Petit has been a showcase for locally written and directed plays, musicals, readings and one-person shows, especially during the annual Tennessee Williams Literary Festival. The theatre is in the heart of the French Quarter at 616 St. Peter Street, opposite Jackson Square and the Cabildo.

The shows announced for next season include the following:

Vanya & Sonia & Masha & Spike
Sept. 5 – 20

Peter & The Starcatcher
Nov. 7 – 23

Jesus Christ Superstar
Jan. 16 – 30 

Dinner with Friends
March 20 – April 3

Merrily We Roll Along
May 22 – June 6

For full details about LePetit’s season, call the box office at 522-2081, or visit lepetittheatre.com. 

Southern Rep Theatre
Southern Rep has announced its four mainstage productions for the 2014-15 season, but the dates, times and locations have not been firmed up as of publication time. Their popular “Lagniappe Series,” consisting of the ongoing soap opera, “Debauchery,” now into its fourth season, and the 3x3 and 6x6 series of short, original plays, will continue at Mid-City Theatre into next year.
The four mainstage productions are:


Broomstick by John Biguenet. Directed by Lisa Wolpe and featuring Liann Pattison.

Detroit by Lisa D’Amour. Directed by Aimée Hayes and featuring Jessica Podewell, Todd D’Amour, Laura Friedmann and Mike Harkins.
Suddenly, Last Summer by Tennessee Williams. Featuring Brenda Currin; director TBA.

Boudin: The New Orleans Music Project curated by Matt Callahan, Sean Daniels and Aimée Hayes. Featuring Troi Bechet and Clint Johnson. 

Southern Rep will also be staging its new play "Bacchanal" on January 10 and 11 at the Marigny Opera House, 725 St. Ferdinand Street. For more information visitsouthernrep.com.

Jefferson Performing Arts Society
JPAS annually stages a mix of live theater (usually musicals), dance, classical music and sometimes a mainstage opera or operetta. It currently operates out of two theaters, one on each bank of the parish.
The current Jefferson Performing Arts Center is in the auditorium of East Jefferson High School, 400 Phlox Street, Metairie, and the West Bank theatre, Teatro Wego, is at 177 Sala Avenue, Westwego. 
JPAS lineup of major productions for the 2014-15 season includes:

Blueberry Hill written and directed by Butch Caire
Sept. 12 – 28; Teatro Wego

The Cat in the Hat based on the book by Dr. Seuss. 
Sept. 13 & 20: JPAC

Macabaret directed by Butch Caire. 
Oct. 17 – Nov. 2; Teatro Wego
The Nutcracker featuring the JPAS Symphony Orchestra (Maestro Dennis G. Assaf, conducting) and dance arrangements by Harvey Hysell. 
Dec. 6 – 7; JPAC

Rockin’ Pneumonia written and directed by Butch Caire. 
Jan. 16 – Feb. 1; Teatro Wego

Sex Please, We’re Sixty directed by “Uncle” Wayne Daigrepont. 
Feb. 27 – March 15; Teatro Wego

Captain Louie Jr. based on the book “The Trip” by Ezra Jack Keats. 
March 20 – 22; JPAC
The Lady with All the Answers directed by “Uncle” Wayne Daigrepont. 
April 3 – 19; Teatro Wego

For ticket information or other show details call (504) 885-2000 or visit the JPAS website at jpas.org.

Rivertown Theatres for the Performing Arts
Located in the Rivertown section of Kenner, the Rivertown Theatres are under the management of Theatre 13, founded in 2009 by longtime actor/director Gary Rucker and performer/choreographer Kelly Fouchi. The 2014-15 season will offer the following productions:

Shrek the Musical
Sept. 12 – 27

One Man Two Guvnors
Nov. 7 – 22

A Christmas Carol:
The Musical
Dec. 5 – 21
The Will Rogers Follies
Jan. 16 – 31

When Ya Smilin’ Remembering New Orleans 
in the 1950s
March 13 – 28

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
May 8 – 23

For tickets and other information visit Theatre 13 at their website theatre-13.tix.com or call (504) 461-9475. 

Contemporary Arts Center
The Contemporary Arts Center, at 900 Camp Street in the New Orleans Warehouse Arts District, is a multi-use facility, housing fine arts exhibits as well as showing films. The CAC also hosts live theatrical and musical performances throughout the year.
Here is a glance at the CAC’s 2014-15 live entertainment lineup:

An Iliad starring Denis O’Hare
September 27 – 28

Meshell Ndegeocello 
in concert
October 10

Sam Green & Yo La Tengo: The Love Song Of R. Buckminster Fuller
November 7

Rude Mechanicals 
Theater Company
November 20 – 22

Sidra Bell Dance Revue 
New York
December 5 – 6

Arturo Sandoval in concert
January 23

Meklit Hadero in concert
March 6 – 7 

The Grand Parade (of the 20th Century) 
theatrical production
March 20 - 22

Joey Ariasin: Billie Holiday centennial tribute
April 17

For more more information visit cacno.org.

Scattered throughout New Orleans are a number of “black box” theaters, so-called because they are small venues, typically seating no more than 50-100 people at a time per show. These theaters, rather than mounting their own productions, most often serve as performance venues for local – and occasionally visiting – performing groups, which are loosely termed “performance collectives” or “theatrical cooperatives.”
Foremost among the “black box” theaters in New Orleans are:

Mid-City Theatre
3540 Toulouse St. • 488-1460 • midcitytheatre.com

AllWays Theatre 
2240 St. Claude Ave. • 218-5778 • theallwayslounge.net

Shadowbox Theatre
2400 St. Claude Ave. • 298-8676 • theshadowboxtheatre.com

Marigny Opera House
725 St. Ferdinand St. • 948-9998 • marignyoperahouse.org

Ashe Cultural Arts Center
1712 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. • 569-9070. • shecac.org 

Dryades Theater
1232 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. • 555-5555 

Unlike the major performing arts groups and venues, most performance collectives do not plan out an entire season at a time. Their performances are often contracted for as the season goes along and sometimes they may be announced only a month or several weeks before opening night.
However, there are a few collectives that have announced their schedule of performances for the 2014-15 season. Among them are:

NOLA Project

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest directed by Mark Routhier. 
NOCCA’s Nims Black Box Theatre, 2800 Chartres Street.
Sept. 4 – 21

Shiner by Christian Durso, directed by Alex Ates. 
The AllWays Theatre
Oct. 1 – 18

The Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare, directed by A.J. Allegra. 
New Orleans Museum of Art
Dec. 2 – 21 

Camille by Charles Ludlam, directed by Jeffrey Roberson 
Mid-City Theatre
Jan. 29 – Feb. 28

Robin Hood: Thief, Brigand a new play by Andrew Vaught, directed by Beau Bratcher. 
NOMA’s Besthoff Sculpture Garden, City Park
May 2015 (actual date TBA)

For more detailed information about NOLA Project and its productions, go to nolaproject.com.

Elm Theatre

A Lie of the Mind by Sam Shepard. 
Dryades Theatre
Sept. 10 – Oct. 5 

Enter Your Sleep by Christina Quintana. 
Venue TBA
Nov. 13 – 30

The Naughty List (an evening of monologues, mistletoe and mistakes) 
Venue TBA
Dec. 18 – 21

The One-Act Festival: Featuring Gruesome Playground Injuries
Elm Theatre 
Feb. 26 – March 1

Down the Road by Lee Blessing
Venue TBA
March 25 – April 19

For more details about Elm Theatre, visit  elmtheatre.org. 

Other Performance Collectives and Contact Info
Ampersand Productions: facebook.com/ampersandproductions 
Goat in the Road Productions: goatintheroadproductions.org 
Jonathan Mares Productions: 758-5590. All productions staged at AllWays Theatre.
Running with Scissors: norunningwithscissors.com 
Second Star: secondstarperformancecollective.com
Skin Horse Theatre: skinhorsetheater.org 

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