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It’s Showtime!


The new performing arts season starts with a bang

The 2010–11 arts season should be an exciting one, with several major organizations celebrating major anniversaries and new directors taking over major art institutions. Below is a sampling of what you can expect.



Aimee Hayes, Southern Rep’s artistic director, calls the upcoming season “a whimsical, fun and maybe an exotic (and erotic) exploration of love in its many guises.” First, from September 8 to 26 is the regional premiere of Sarah Ruhl’s In the Next Room, or the Vibrator Play, a 2010 Pulitzer Prize nominee. Continuing its tradition of supporting new plays, the company will present the world premiere of Steve Yockey’s afterlife: a ghost story, from October 20 to November 7. From December 3 to 19, Running With Scissors presents its holiday show. The company rings in 2011 with its annual New Play Bacchanal, from January 3 to 23. Intringulís, by Carlos Alban (date to be determined), is a collaboration with New York’s acclaimed LAByrinth Theater. The main stage season culminates May 19 to June 5 with Alan Ayckbourn’s deliriously clever trilogy The Norman Conquests (“Table Manners,” “Living Together,” and “Round and Round the Garden”). In addition, Southern Rep continues its “second stage” collaboration with Le Chat Noir. The Four of Us is at Le Chat through September 5; upcoming shows include Love Child and Telethon.



The Ogden Museum of Southern Art hasn’t finalized its spring schedule, but it has plenty worth seeing this fall. From October 2 to January 2, the Ogden will exhibit a collection of New Orleans and Louisiana photographs by Walker Evans, culled from the collection of actress Jessica Lange, who also will attend the museum’s gala on October 9. “The Ogden Museum is excited about showcasing these photographs from the collection of Jessica Lange. Walker Evans is an icon of photography, and Lange is an icon on many different levels,” says Sue Strachan, Ogden’s public relations director. Other fall exhibitions include paintings by Texas landscape artist Robert Julian Onderdonk (1882–1922) and the Michael Brown and Linda Green Collection. And, of course, there is the ever-popular Ogden After Hours on Thursdays, which in the past has featured Ellis Marsalis, James Andrews and Jeremy Davenport, among others.



Le Petit’s 95th season will continue to focus on musical theater, with old favorites like Irving Berlin’s White Christmas (December 10) and Evita (June 10) along with more recent hits including Hairspray (September 17 ), The Drowsy Chaperone (April 7) and Disney’s High School Musical (July 14). There’s also a new musical in the mix: Soul Doctor, which opens on November 9. Le Petit takes a break from musicals with Frost/Nixon, a compelling drama inspired by the David Frost–Richard Nixon interviews. That show opens January 28.



New Orleans Opera’s upcoming season features some surefire crowd-pleasers. On October 15 and 17, the company will perform Porgy and Bess, a lavish production of the Gershwin brothers’ work originally scheduled for last season but postponed for budgetary reasons. Mozart’s The Magic Flute will be presented on November 19 and 21; Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers rings in 2011 on January 28 and 30; and Verdi’s Il Trovatore wraps up the season on April 1 and 3. If traditional opera is too formal or costly for you, there’s Opera on Tap, a free concert series that features rising young talents from the region and takes place in casual settings such as the Rusty Nail, the Inn on Bourbon and the Abita Brew Pub.



The Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra continues to thrive under the leadership of its dynamic conductor, Carlos Miguel Prieto. This is the LPO’s 20th anniversary season, and it has pulled together a special lineup for its New Orleans, Jefferson Parish and Covington stages. Highlights include An Evening With Randy Newman on January 7; renowned flutist James Galway on March 26; the Romero Guitar Quartet on January 14 and 15, and the Music of Michael Jackson on May 28. In addition, there are many concerts by the orchestra itself, and a wide variety of subscription options, all listed on the LPO Web site. “The LPO celebrates being 20 years young during its 2010–2011 season,” says Babs Mollere, the LPO’s managing director. “We have youthful vitality; we’ve never sounded better; and we’re celebrating with an array of fantastic artists.”



This museum, the country’s official museum dedicated to World War II, is notable for its recorded oral histories and collections of memorabilia and artifacts from the war. Currently, the museum is in the middle of a multimillion-dollar expansion. Already open are the Victory Theater, a 4-D theater designed to replicate the sights, sounds and feel of the soldiers’ journey to war, and the Stage Door Canteen, where 1940s-style musicians perform. In addition to the museum’s permanent collection, there are some special exhibitions as well. Animal lovers can enjoy Loyal Forces: The Animals of World War II, through October 17. Then from November 11 to May 8, visitors can see Ours to Fight For: American Jews in the Second World War. If you work up an appetite during your visit, don’t despair: the American Sector, the museum’s on-site restaurant, is run by master chef John Besh.



The third annual New Orleans Fringe Festival (November 17–21), will feature more than 100 shows in 10 venues. The idea behind the festival is to provide new and emerging artists and theatrical organizations with a place to share their work. The official lineup will be announced next month, but those not chosen officially are invited to “bring their own venue” and produce their own work. In addition, the festival will feature a spoken-word night and a parade on St. Claude; there will activities, including games and shows, geared toward children. In keeping with the spirit of the festival, the cost is low: Tickets are $8 per event (or five tickets for $30), with the purchase of a $3 festival pass. By attending you’ll also be supporting the artists, as ticket sale revenues are split evenly with the performers.



The Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival (March 23–27) celebrates two anniversaries in 2011: the 25th anniversary of the festival and Williams’ centennial birthday. “It’s sure to be our biggest and best event ever,” says associate director Arin Black. Though the festival is still being planned, Black confirms that several notable guests will be in attendance, including theater legend Zoe Caldwell, renowned screen and stage actress Estelle Parsons, Louisiana poet laureate Darryl Bourque and Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Olen Butler. Among the scheduled events are a performance of The Glass Menagerie; educational outreach to local high school students; and activities ranging in tone from a scholarly conference to the ever popular Stella and Stanley Shouting Contest.



“Words & Music [November 17–21] will have great appeal this year for both readers and writers,” says Rosemary James, co-founder of the Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society, which sponsors the festival. The theme this year is “The Literature of War & Collateral Damage.” The festival will examine the topic through a literary lens, from the works of ancient Greeks and Romans to those of contemporary authors, including National Book Award Winner and festival participant Tim O’Brien. Academic papers will be presented, classics scholar and performance artist Stanley Lombardo will give a dramatic presentation, and a stage adaptation of O’Brien’s moving collection The Things They Carried will be presented by New York’s American Place Theater. In addition, Words & Music offers invaluable learning and networking opportunities for writers, through workshops, master classes, manuscript critiques and consultations with literary agents and editors. The conference is based at the Monteleone; off-site activities include the Literature and Lunch Series and Jazz After Hours at the Napoleon House.



NOBA’s 41st season “brings the extraordinary versatility and genius of some of the dance world’s most outstanding choreographers and artists to this great city,” states Jenny Hamilton, the executive director. “We are honored to present these remarkable dance companies in a season filled with the return of local favorites showcasing new works, the debut of the internationally acclaimed Corella Ballet Castilla y León [on May 14], live musical accompaniment, and another NOBA-commissioned world premiere uniting the creative brilliance of Trey McIntyre and Preservation Hall Jazz Band’s Ben Jaffe [February 4].” Other shows at the Mahalia Jackson include Momix on October 23 and 24 and Parsons Dance on April 16. In addition, in collaboration with NOCCA, NOBA will present the Alwin Nikolais Centennial [November 19 and 20] and Alonzo King’s Lines Ballet [January 21 and 22], both at NOCCA’s Freda Lupin Memorial Hall.



After an enormously successful 2009–10 season, Broadway Across America returns to the Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts for the second year. The season opens with the Cirque Dreams’ production Illumination. The Florida company (not to be confused with Canada’s Cirque de Soleil) will perform from September 28 to October 3. From November 3 to 7, Rain, a tribute to the Beatles, will be in town. This multimedia production, which features live performances by look- and sound-alikes, will also premiere on Broadway this year. Next up, from December 13 to 19, is Monty Python’s Spamalot, the Tony Winner for best musical in 2005. From February 11 to 13 The Color Purple, which sold out last season, will return to New Orleans. Last year, 91-year-old Arthur Laurents directed a new production of his iconic musical West Side Story for the Broadway stage. The touring company hits New Orleans from March 11 to 15. The season will wrap things up with a family-friendly show on May 31 to June 5: the musical adaptation of the Disney hit, Shrek, which itself was inspired by William Steig’s classic children’s book.



The New Orleans Museum of Art is among many organizations celebrating anniversaries this year. It’s a big one, too, as NOMA turns 100 in 2011! In addition, this season ushers in another change. After 37 years as director, John Bullard, who helped elevate the national profile of the museum, has retired and will serve as director emeritus. Esteemed museum director Susan Taylor, most recently of the Princeton Art Museum, has taken the reins. Among the highlights of this special season are two retrospectives, The Making of the New Orleans Museum of Art, from November 11 to January 23; and 100 Masterworks for 100 Years – NOMA’s Centennial Celebration, from November 13 to February 19. In addition, until October 7 there will be an exhibition featuring early Indian bronzes; and from February 12 to April 17, the museum will showcase the work of Zen master Hakuin Ekaku.