Hancher is packing a powerhouse punch with shows featuring strong women in 2019-20, beginning with Diana Ross in concert July 19.
The diva season continues with Broadway royalty Audra McDonald on Sept. 14, and continuing with dance from Urban Bush Women on Sept. 21, “The Color Purple” on Jan. 24 and 25, Rosanne Cash on Feb. 8, Melissa Aldana Quartet on March 25 and “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” on April 3 and 4.
In between are “Rent” on Oct. 4 and 5; jazz giant Chick Corea on Oct. 11; Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis in “Big Band Holidays” on Dec. 14; The Chieftains’ farewell tour stop March 4; Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater on March 10; The Boson Pops performing six decades of John Williams’ music on April 7.
Those are just some of the highlights of what Chuck Swanson, Hancher’s executive director, calls the new building’s “senior year.”
“It’s our fourth year in this new building, and I think (the programming) just continues to get stronger and stronger and stronger,” he said. “Each year we keep thinking this season is the best — there’s pressure every year to bring it to new levels. This is our senior year, and I think we delivered in a big way.
“It’s hard putting together a season and keeping it mum,” he added. “I’m almost bursting the buttons — I’m ready and anxious to let the world know about the season.”
Hancher donors giving $100 or more can submit ticket orders through May 28. Public sales begin July 1 at the Hancher Box Office, (319) 335-1160, 1-(800) HANCHER or hancher.uiowa.edu
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Last December, Hancher pulled out all the stops for New Year’s Eve with a gala evening featuring stage and screen star Kristin Chenoweth. This year, the season is cranking up the heat.
“There ain’t no summer hot enough for Diana Ross,” Swanson said. “I love the legends, the well-knowns, and I love to bring them to Iowa City, to our university, and to Hancher. She’s been on television, she’s just out there so much, and for us to have the opportunity to have her on the Hancher stage, and just know how fortunate we are to have what we have in this community — I’m just as pleased as can be.
“And the season is full of strong women — it is the diva season, and I love that. I love the fact that we’ve got some strong Broadway, too, along with the variety and the depth of the music that we have.”
As he experienced “Les Miserables” on the Hancher stage last December, he knew he wanted to hear the force of “Rent” in the new auditorium, too. “It’s so powerful,” he said, “and it will help bring students in. Students love that show.”
One of his personal favorites is Storm Large, who will be performing outdoors on the Hancher Green on Sept. 6, hopefully on a night that doesn’t reflect her name. A singer who gained attention on the CBS reality show “Rock Star: Supernova,” she has branched into cabaret and theater, and has toured with Pink Martini.
Swanson counts himself among her “Storm Chaser” fans.
“Her voice is so strong, and she just relates so well with the audience,” he said. “Her whole heart goes into it — she is just such a performer. I’m so excited to have her outdoors, and hopefully, we’ll have thousands of people out there enjoying a beautiful night. We’re ordering beautiful weather for that.”
And while it’s not part of the upcoming season, in August 2020, Hancher is teaming up with the city and other entities to make a Big Splash! This three-day celebration will focus on the Iowa River and the 100th anniversary of the University of Iowa’s world-renowned IIHR — Hydroscience & Engineering program housed on the banks of the river. Among the planned activities are a float parade on the river; RUBBERBANDance Group, returning after performing on the regular Hancher season Feb. 15; and the Flying Wallendas tightrope walkers. More details will be announced in June.
19: Diana Ross, 7:30 p.m., Auditorium
6: Storm Large, 7 p.m., Hancher Green
10: Van Jones, “Protest and Politics in the Age of Twitter,” 7:30 p.m., Auditorium
14: Audra McDonald, “Songs from the American Music Theater,” 7:30 p.m., Auditorium
21: Urban Bush Women, “Hair and Other Stories,” 7:30 p.m., Auditorium
25: Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, “American Guitar Masters,” 7:30 p.m., Auditorium
4 and 5: “Rent,” 7:30 p.m. Friday; 1 and 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Auditorium
11: Chick Corea, “Trilogy,” 7:30 p.m., Auditorium
13: Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, “New World Spirit,” 3 p.m., Auditorium
22: Sankai Juku, “Utsushi (Between Two Mirrors),” 7:30 p.m., Auditorium
26: SITI Company, “The Bacchae,” 7:30 p.m., Auditorium
2: Tomeka Reid Quartet, 6:30 and 9 p.m., Club Hancher in Strauss Hall
21: CONTRA-TIEMPO and Las Cafeteras, “joyUS, justUS,” 7:30 p.m., Auditorium
7: BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet, “A Cajun Christmas,” 7:30 p.m., Auditorium
14: Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, “Big Band Holidays,” 7:30 p.m., Auditorium
24 and 25: “The Color Purple,” 8 p.m. Friday; 1 and 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Auditorium
29: Miro Quartet and Kiera Duffy, soprano, 7:30 p.m., Auditorium
1: Gina Chavez, 2 and 5 p.m., Kids Club Hancher in Strauss Hall
8: Rosanne Cash, 7:30 p.m., Auditorium
15: RUBBERBANDance Group, “Vic’s Mix,” 7:30 p.m., Auditorium
21: Syed Umar Warsi, Amir Safi and Amal Kassir, 7:30 p.m., Strauss Hall
22: Negin Farsad, 7:30 p.m., Auditorium
28 and 29: The Actors’ Gang, “The New Colossus,” 7:30 p.m., Auditorium
4: The Chieftains, “The Irish Goodbye,” 7:30 p.m., Auditorium
8: Dreamers’ Circus, 5:30 and p.m., Club Hancher in Strauss Hall
10: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, 7:30 p.m., Auditorium
25: Melissa Aldana Quartet, 6:30 and 9 p.m., Club Hancher in Strauss Hall
28: Los Angeles Master Chorale, “Lagrime di San Pietro,” 7:30 p.m., Auditorium
3 and 4: “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical,” 7:30 p.m. Friday; 1 and 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Auditorium
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7: Boston Pops On Tour, “Lights, Camera ... Music! Six Decades of John Williams,” 7:30 p.m., Auditorium
18: ETHEL + Robert Mirabal, “The River,” 7:30 p.m., Auditorium
24 to 26: Compagnia TPO, “Farfalle,” 5 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m., 12:30 and 3 p.m. Saturday; 12:30 and 3 p.m. Sunday, Strauss Hall
1 and 2: Slingsby Theatre Company, “Emil and the Detectives,” 6:30 p.m. Friday; 1 p.m. Saturday, Strauss Hall
4: Danish String Quartet, 7:30 p.m., Auditorium
Watch for ticket and season information at Hancher.uiowa.edu