Hoopla

Top picks for 2019 Eastern Iowa events

Lucas Saporiti photo

Elegant acrobats swinging from a chandelier are among the 51 performers from around the world who will come to the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids in May with Cirque du Soleil.
Lucas Saporiti photo Elegant acrobats swinging from a chandelier are among the 51 performers from around the world who will come to the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids in May with Cirque du Soleil.

From highflying circus acts to a trio of operas inspired by Grant Wood, here are my choices for the best arts and entertainment events coming to the region in the new year.

1. CIRQUE DU SOLEIL “CORTEO”: seven performances May 1 to 5, U.S. Cellular Center, 370 First Ave. NE, Cedar Rapids; $48 to $118 adults, $39 to $95 children; Uscellularcenter.com/events. It’s always an adventure of the highest caliber when this circus comes to town. “Corteo,” which means “cortege” in Italian, creates a festive parade imagined by a clown, with actors and acrobats plunging audiences into a theatrical world “in a mysterious space between heaven and earth.”

2. “AMERICAN VISIONARY: JFK LIFE AND TIMES”: Feb. 2 to May 19, Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, 410 Third Ave. SE; Crma.org. John F. Kennedy’s life plays out through 77 photos, from his first congressional bid as a decorated war hero in 1946 and his marriage, to his White House years and his assassination in 1963.

3. ORCHESTRA IOWA: “TALES OF HEMINGWAY”: 7:30 p.m. Feb. 16, Paramount Theatre, Cedar Rapids, $16 to $55; 7:30 p.m. Feb. 17, Solon Center for the Arts, $28 to $44; Artsiowa.com/tickets/series/masterworks1819. Winner of three Grammy Awards in 2017, this concerto by Cedar Rapids native Michael Daugherty features four movements inspired by the works of Nobel Prize-winning writer Ernest Hemingway. Cellist Zuill Bailey, who performed in the world premiere and on the Grammy-winning recording, will join Orchestra Iowa onstage.

4. “HELLO, DOLLY!” STARRING BETTY BUCKLEY: April 9 to 14, Des Moines Civic Center, 221 Walnut St., Des Moines; details TBA, Desmoinesperformingarts.org. This Tony Award-winning actress and star of television’s “Eight is Enough” is stepping into the role of Dolly Levi in the national tour of the Tony-winning revival that’s still glowin’ and growin’ strong.

5. CEDAR RAPIDS OPERA THEATRE: THE GRANT WOOD OPERAS: “STROKES OF GENIUS”: April 12 to 14, Theatre Cedar Rapids, 102 Third St. SE; $40 on sale in January at Theatrecr.org. This world premiere features three commissioned one-act pieces inspired by Grant Wood’s life and artistry. R. Tripp Evans, art history professor at Wheaton College in Massachusetts and author of “Grant Wood: A Life,” will present preshow talks.

6. AMERICAN BALLET THEATRE: “WHIPPED CREAM”: 1 and 6:30 p.m. April 6, Hancher Auditorium, 141 E. Park Rd., Iowa City; $20 to $90, Hancher.uiowa.edu. Local dancers will join the celebrated American Ballet Theatre and Orchestra Iowa in this delicious story ballet. Set to the music of Richard Strauss, the tale follows a young boy who overindulges at a Viennese pastry shop and falls into a delirious dream filled with sugary heroes who come to his rescue.

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7. BROADWAY AT THE PARAMOUNT: “SPAMALOT”: national tour, 8 p.m. March 1, Paramount Theatre, 123 Third Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids; $53 to $73; Paramounttheatrecr.com/Events. I love “Spamalot” a lot, and like all Monty Python fans, can’t get enough “lovely, wonderful” Spam. This setting of King Arthur’s quest for the Holy Grail never grows old.

8. GREAT JONES COUNTY FAIR: July 17 to 21, Monticello; Greatjonescountyfair.com/2019-concerts-events/. The biggest, brightest and best stars line up for grandstand concerts that in 2019 will feature Tim McGraw with Trace Adkins on July 18, Hootie and the Blowfish with Barenaked Ladies on July 19, Chris Stapleton on July 20, and TobyMac on July 21.

9. STYX AND LARRY THE CABLE GUY: 7:30 p.m. March 29, U.S. Cellular Center, 370 First Ave. NE, Cedar Rapids; $39.50 to $79.50, Uscellularcenter.com/events. Art sometimes makes for strange bedfellows, and this is perhaps the most unusual pairing to hit town. Styx topped the charts through the 1970s and ’80s with a hit parade including “Lady,” “Come Sail Away,” “Babe” and “Mr. Roboto.” Larry the Cable Guy has branched out from his “git-r-done” comedy catchphrase to voice Mater in the Disney/Pixar “Cars” films.

10. REVIVAL THEATRE COMPANY: “OKLAHOMA”: Nov. 21 to 23; details TBA, Revivaltheatrecompany.com. It’s the 75th anniversary of the Rodgers and Hammerstein landmark musical that proclaimed “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’” and took actors and audiences for a ride in “The Surrey with the Fringe on Top” — and taught us how to spell O-K-L-A-H-O-M-A.

l Comments: (319) 368-8508; diana.nollen@thegazette.com

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