September Brings New Downtown Performances
By NANCY HERMANN
HEARTBREAKERS: The BOK Center celebrates its second anniversary with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers on Sept. 23.
September in this part of the country often means one thing: football. I’m a big sports fan, but the arrival of September for me signals something even more exciting: the launch of a new performance season at the .
Nearly all of the PAC’s 14 resident arts groups sell their programs in season packages and also show by show. Town Hall offers a subscription package only, so it’s important to get in on this great deal now, at the beginning of the season, while you can still catch finance guru Clark Howard’s lecture on Sept. 10. I like leaving the theatre feeling like my worldview or life experience has been enriched and expanded. You get that with Town Hall. Some of my favorite guest lecturers haven’t been celebrities, but Town Hall brings in big names as well. Astrophysicist Neil Degrasse Tyson speaks in October and Greg Gumbel is up in February, and there’s more. If you would gladly trade $60 for five Friday mornings of stimulating entertainment, you’ll want to check out this series, now in its 76th year.
Another arts group that begins its season on Sept. 10 is The Playhouse Tulsa (formerly Playhouse Theatre), which will follow its SummerStage triumphs, House and Garden, with Shakespeare’s bloody Macbeth, set in a contemporary time. Playhouse Tulsa helmers Courtneay Sanders and Chris Crawford are superb actors. I’m eager to see them in this tragedy’s lead roles, though it is hard for me to imagine those two sweet people stepping into the shoes of the murderous Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. Acting!
We are buzzing at the about a new arts group merger. Playhouse Tulsa and the children- and youth-focused Encore Theatre Arts are joining forces. The latter has been led by Josh and Mindy Barker, who have produced works at The Spotlight Theatre and appeared in House and Garden. (Mindy’s spot-on comedic timing in Garden kept me laughing.) The Barkers will debut their first Encore Playhouse production, Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, at the Sept. 8-11.
Tulsa Symphony marks its fifth season at the on Sept. 11 with “The Resilience of the Human Spirit,” highlighting, appropriately enough, Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5, along with Mendelssohn’s Overture from A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Brahms’ Variations on a Theme by Haydn. The “Resilience” title acknowledges the 9/11 anniversary, and the evening’s program promises to deliver stirring moments of both reflection and joy. You are invited to attend a free pre-concert talk beginning at 6:30 p.m., with the concert’s conductor, Alastair Willis, hosted by Arts and Humanities Executive Director Ken Busby. After the concert there is a “Meet the Musicians” reception. Make an evening of it.
Theatre Tulsa and Odeum Theatre Company also stage their season openers in September. Theatre Tulsa’s Pageant: The Musical is about a beauty pageant where the beauties are all men and the audience becomes competition judges. The evening gown and swimsuit segments are going to be a hoot! Clear the runway for Pageant, Sept. 17-25.
What performance this month could be more buzz-o-dacious than Odeum Theatre Company’s production of Tracy Letts’ Bug? Add five exclamation points to the following statement: This is a show for kids. That said, if you’re itching for a compelling theatre experience, this is your ticket, Sept. 30–Oct. 10.
Also at the this month is The August Wilson Project, already sold out, on Sept. 2, Celtic Fiddle Festival on Sept. 24, both presented by the Trust, and the return of Swan Lake Sept. 24–26, danced by Tulsa Ballet. There are a dozen new dancers debuting this month. I’m so glad to have Tulsa Ballet on my dance card once again! While you’re enjoying Swan Lake and other performances in Chapman Music Hall, stop by the Gallery to view Soma. This month-long exhibit features Julie Shelton’s sensitive photos of dancers.
Rock is big this month around Tulsa with John Mayer at the Center on Sept. 3, Rush on Sept. 21 and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers on Sept. 23. The Brady Theatre keeps rockin’ with The Pixies on Sept. 18 and Stone Temple Pilots on Sept. 29.
So much awesome rock, football and arts can make you hungry. Don’t miss the return of the Rock and Rib Festival on the Center grounds Sept. 16-19.
Yes, there’s a lot to do in Tulsa! The increasing number of activities encourages growth, and success creates success. The broke attendance records last year and that could be, in part, because people are feeling good about our revitalized downtown and its expansive menu of entertainment. Come join the fun!
Nancy Hermann is Director of Marketing at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center.