116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
With the COVID cloud still hanging over us, wreaking havoc especially hard on Broadway shows, I’m hoping my top event choices still can entertain us in the coming year.
Hancher: The Big Splash
Aug. 26 to 28
Despite going on pandemic pause, Hancher will be pulling out all the stops for this “free outdoor extravaganza of music, dance, circus arts and spectacle.”
Presented in collaboration with the City of Iowa City, the University of Iowa’s IIHR — Hydroscience & Engineering, and other community partners, the event will not only celebrate a century of the UI’s internationally-renowned laboratory working to solve the world’s greatest fluids-related challenges, the arts event also will be the centerpiece of Hancher’s 50th season.
Postponing The Big Splash was the right move, Hancher Executive Director Chuck Swanson told The Gazette in April 2020, even though it broke his heart.
Four years in the planning, the outdoor arts extravaganza was slated to include high-wire performances by the Flying Wallendas and a water parade on the Iowa River.
“There are a lot of worse things happening in the world,” Swanson noted at the start of pandemic. “This gives us something more to look forward to.”
Watch for details at thebigsplash.org/
Riverside Theatre: “Eden Prairie, 1971”
Feb. 4 to 20, with previews Jan. to Feb. 3
This is the world premiere show that will open Riverside Theatre’s new home at 119 E. College St. on the Pedestrian Mall in downtown Iowa City.
Riverside previously staged Mat Smart’s brilliant play, “The Agitators,” focusing on the issues Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass faced in the 19th century. “Eden Prairie, 1971” moves into the 20th century. Synopsis: On the night Apollo 15 lands on the moon, a draft dodger steals home to Eden Prairie, Minn., from Canada, and risks arrest to deliver a message to a young woman from his high school class. Details: riversidetheatre.org/eden-prairie-1971/
Theatre Cedar Rapids: “Kinky Boots”
Feb. 11 to March 6
Another show paused by the pandemic is ready to strut across the Theatre Cedar Rapids stage in high-fashion, high-heeled glory. This Tony-winning musical, with songs by Cyndi Lauper, is the true story about a chance meeting that ends up taking a struggling shoe factory to catwalk glory. Details: theatrecr.org/event/kinky-boots/2022-02-11/
Orchestra Iowa: Voices of Change
April 23, Paramount Theatre, Cedar Rapids, and April 24, Hancher Auditorium, Iowa City
This is a concert Maestro Timothy Hankewich is especially proud to present. Along with the promise of a stirring rendition of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Orchestra Iowa also will perform “Seven Last Words of the Unarmed.”
Michael Brown. Trayvon Martin. Oscar Grant. Eric Garner. Kenneth Chamberlain. Amadou Diallo. John Crawford. Atlanta-based composer Joel Thompson has turned the final words of these Black men — each killed by police or by authority figures — into a powerful multi-movement choral work. I will be taking tissues to this concert: sevenlastwords.org/about/
Cedar Rapids Opera: “Cosi fan tutte”
Jan. 21 and 23, Paramount Theatre, Cedar Rapids
As a teenager, I saw a lavish production of this Mozart opera onstage at Indiana University, where all of the costumes were white and dripping in sparkles. I played that forward several times in my previous life as a costume designer. In June of 2009, I saw Cedar Rapids Opera’s more traditional production at Cornell College in Mount Vernon.
This new staging will be anything but traditional. Cedar Rapids Opera plans to whisk audiences “to the world of 1980s soap operas for an evening of romance, mischief and some of Mozart’s most magical melodies.” Shoulder pads and big hair are bound to make an appearance. Details: cropera.org/cosi-fan-tutte
Hancher: “The Band’s Visit”
April 6 and 7
Winner of 10 Tony 2018 awards, including Best Musical, “The Band’s Visit“ is set in a small town off the beaten path in Israel, where a band of Egyptian musicians arrive lost, out of the blue. Under the spell of the desert sky, the band brings the town to life in unexpected ways. Hancher only brings the best of Broadway to Eastern Iowa. Details: hancher.uiowa.edu/2021-22/The_Bands_Visit
Des Moines Civic Center: “Hadestown”
March 22 to 27
I’m well aware that “Hamilton” is coming to Des Moines from May 17 to June 5. It’s fabulous, and I’ve seen it before. But I haven’t seen “Hadestown.”
Winner of eight 2019 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, this show is described as “intertwining two mythic tales — that of young dreamers Orpheus and Eurydice, and that of King Hades and his wife Persephone — as it invites you on a hell-raising journey to the underworld and back.” That’s definitely worth a two-hour drive to Des Moines. Details: desmoinesperformingarts.org/events/hadestown/
Blue Man Group
April 26, Paramount Theatre, Cedar Rapids, and May 2 and 3, Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center, Cedar Falls
The Blue crew is back on the road in a new North American tour, featuring the trio’s signature drumming, kaleidoscope creativity and quirky comedy — audiences will experience new music, custom-made instruments, audience interaction, and more absurdity. It’s a sure bet for wild fun. Details: creventslive.com/events/2021/blue-man and gbpac.com/upcoming-events
Orchestra Iowa: John Williams
Feb .19 and 20, Paramount Theatre, Cedar Rapids
Few movie theme songs are as instantly recognizable as those penned by John Williams. “Jaws,” “Star Wars,” “Superman,” “E.T.,” “Indiana Jones,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” and on and on. Whatever Maestro Timothy Hankewich and Orchestra Iowa can dream up, you’re sure to be humming along during an out-of-this world concert. Details: creventslive.com/events/2021/musical-movie-moments-by-john-williams
You also can be sure that I’ll be back May 7 when Orchestra Iowa and Jeans ’n’ Classics will rock us with the music of Queen at the Paramount. Details: creventslive.com/events/2021/one-vision---the-music-of-queen
June 9, Paramount Theatre, Cedar Rapids
Rescheduled twice, this 25th anniversary celebration of Irish music and dance is coming to Cedar Rapids. Producer Moya Doherty and director John McColgan have completely re-imagined the groundbreaking show with innovative lighting, projection, stage and costume designs. Slainte! Details: creventslive.com/events/2020/riverdance---new-25th-anniversary-show
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