Billy, Billie and Bond: 2020 Arts Calendar

Entertainment People The Arts

January 2, 2020

The theatrical, musical, dance and comedic performances to see in the first half of 2020. 

by Page Leggett

Nnenna Freelon


Celebrating 10 Years: A Jazz at the Bechtler Birthday Bash

Jan. 3 

In honor of the Bechtler’s 10th anniversary, the Jazz at the Bechtler music series will change its venue from the museum lobby to the Knight Theater for a once-in-a-decade concert. House band Ziad Jazz Quartet will be joined by Grammy Award nominees Nnenna Freelon and Russell Malone, as well as recording artist Nicolas Bearde. Knight Theater, 130 S. Tryon St. Tickets are $50. or

Come From Away

Blumenthal Performing Arts Center’s Broadway Lights Series

Jan. 7 – 12

Come From Away is based on the true story of 7,000 passengers stranded in Gander, a small town in Newfoundland, on 9/11 after U.S. airspace was closed. The town’s residents opened their homes and hearts to the weary and shell-shocked travelers, forming unlikely bonds. The musical, a tribute to love overcoming hate, was nominated for seven Tony Awards. Belk Theater at Blumenthal Performing Arts Center. Tickets start at $25. 


Cirque Du Soleil 

Cirque Du Soleil OVO

Jan. 8 – 12

The famous human circus celebrates the often-overlooked insect world. Amazing acrobats fly, leap, crawl, bounce, juggle (with their feet!), cross a high wire, swing on trapezes and perform other astonishing acts as they mimic spiders, crickets, ants and butterflies. Bojangles’ Coliseum, 2700 E. Independence Blvd. Tickets start at $44. or

Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill

Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte

Jan. 16 – Feb. 8

In a run-down bar in Philadelphia in 1959, Billie Holiday is giving one of her last performances. A riveting portrait of the legend and her music months before her death, the musical includes the chilling and heartbreaking “Strange Fruit.” Hadley Theater at Queens University, 2132 Radcliffe Ave. Tickets are $30-$44 on weekdays and $35-$50 on weekends. 

Innovative Works: Beyond the Mint

Charlotte Ballet

Jan. 24 – Feb. 15

Art imitates … art! Three choreographers created works inspired by The Mint Museum’s exhibition “Immersed in Light: Studio Drift at the Mint.” Charlotte Ballet Center for Dance, 701 N. Tryon St. Tickets start at $27; children’s tickets to Saturday matinee are $15.

The New Colossus

presented by Blumenthal Performing Arts Center

Jan. 28 – Feb. 2

Members of the Actors’ Gang theater company ensemble wrote their own ancestors’ stories. Twelve refugees from 12 different time periods — all fleeing violence and oppression — share their tales. All are woven into one cohesive narrative about leaving home in search of a better life. The characters are all drawn to one thing — Lady Liberty’s beacon above Ellis Island. Academy Award-winner Tim Robbins directs a play that opens its national tour in Charlotte. Knight Theater. Tickets start at $20. 


An Evening with Sutton Foster

Feb. 20

Foster is a two-time Tony Award-winning actress, singer and dancer. She played the title role in the off-Broadway revival of Sweet Charity (2016). On Broadway, she played the title role in Thoroughly Modern Millie (2002) and Reno Sweeney in Anything Goes (2011). You might have seen her on TV Land’s Younger or the ABC Family (now Freeform) dramedy Bunheads. Her performance is a good opportunity to check out Charlotte’s newest performing arts venue. Sandra Levine Theatre at Queens University, 2319 Wellesley Ave. Tickets are $25-$75.  

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Celebrating 60 Years! 

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

Feb. 25-26

The iconic company has performed for more than 23 million people in 48 states and 71 countries, celebrating the African-American cultural experience and the American modern dance tradition. The late Alvin Ailey often created dances based on his childhood memories of Texas and used the blues, spirituals and gospel as inspiration. His most popular work, “Revelations,” is a joy to watch. Belk Theater at Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, 130 N. Tryon St. Tickets start at $24.50. 

Lucy Kaplanksy 

Feb. 29

New York-based folk singer Lucy Kaplansky’s music is accessible — and deeply personal. She’s written about her husband of 30-plus years (“Ten Year Night”); their daughter, Molly (“Manhattan Moon”); and the death of the neighbor she often passed on the sidewalk, actor Philip Seymour Hoffman (“Keeping Time”). She’s a master storyteller with an amazing rapport with her audience. If you aren’t able to score tickets to see Diana Ross — the legendary songstress performs at Belk Theater on the same night — this is a terrific show (with fewer costume changes) going on in the Blumenthal basement. Stage Door Theater at Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, 100 E. Trade St. Tickets are $20-$22.

007: The Best of James Bond, Charlotte Pops/Charlotte Symphony Orchestra

March 27-28

The world’s most sophisticated spy has been in more than two dozen films spanning five decades. Each one has its own theme song, and many have been hits. A few are considered among the greatest movie music of our time. The CSO presents singer Chloe Lowery covering the best of Bond, from the instantly recognizable theme songs to the sultry “Nobody Does it Better.” Knight Theater, 130 S. Tryon St. Tickets start at $19. 


CataLysT 2020: An Evening with Danny Glover

April 16

Danny Glover — an actor, activist, director and humanitarian — champions education, equality and social justice while showing us how the arts can help transform communities. The star of the Lethal Weapon series, Witness, Beloved and many more films always has something on his mind — and a way with words. This is a “come-as-you-are” reception and fundraiser. Levine Museum of the New South, 200 E. Seventh St. Tickets (on sale Feb. 1) are $150 for members; $175 for nonmembers.

Sense & Sensibility

Central Piedmont Theatre

April 17 – 26

Sisters Elinor and Marianne are taken with two very different suitors in this adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic. Sensible, reserved Elinor is charmed by the quiet Edward, while passionate Marianne is wooed by the dashing Willoughby, who has a scandalous past. But Edward has a scandalous present … a secret fiancée. Halton Theater, 1206 Elizabeth Ave. Tickets start at $10. 

Afflicted: Daughters of Salem

Children’s Theatre

April 17 – 26

Secrets, gossip, accusations and public hysteria. We could be referring to the current political climate, but this play focuses on the infamous Salem witch trials of the 1690s. In the play — intended for kids 12 and up — five girls in Salem Village become members of a secret society. But peer pressure and politics interfere. This powerful retelling of what led to the Salem witch trials is more relevant than ever. Wells Fargo Playhouse at Children’s Theatre, 300 E. 7th St. Tickets are $10-$12, 

Billy Joel in Concert

April 18

The Piano Man has won five Grammys, a Kennedy Center Honor and the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. His vast catalog ranges from the upbeat pop of “Uptown Girl” to the ballad “You’re My Home” to the Vietnam lament “Goodnight Saigon.” The concert may be in uptown Charlotte, but the audience will be in a “New York State of Mind.” Bank of America Stadium. Tickets start at $49.50.  

Douglas Tappin’s I Dream

Opera Carolina’s I Dream

Opera Carolina

April 19, 23 and 25

I Dream is a celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. With a story set over the last 36 hours of his life, Opera Carolina’s updated version of the 2018 hit is a powerful closing to the 71st season. As the character Martin makes his way to Memphis after giving the most stirring speech of his life, he ponders his triumphs and failures, the progress he’s made and the struggle ahead. Belk Theater, 130 N. Tryon St. Tickets start at $22. 


The Second City: She the People

Second City

hosted by Blumenthal Performing Arts

May 6 – 9

Created and performed by the women of Chicago’s famed Second City troupe, this R-rated sketch comedy show cracks jokes about the income gap and looks at women’s rights in an era in which they seem to be in question. You have to laugh to keep from crying. McGlohon Theater at Spirit Square, 345 N. College St. Tickets are $22-$42.  

Mamma Mia! 

May 7-10 and 15-17

You know the improbable story. A feel-good tale of a daughter’s quest to find her birth father unfolds on a sunny Greek island. On the eve of her wedding, the heroine brings three men from her mother’s past back to the island they last visited 20 years ago. It’s all just a vehicle for two hours of ABBA tunes, and what could be more fun than that? Old Courthouse Theatre, 49 Spring St. NW, Concord. Tickets are $16.09-$21.45.  


Theatre Charlotte

May 22 – June 7

Dreamgirls chronicles one Motown girl group’s rise from obscurity to superstardom. Loosely based on the rivalries within the members of Diana Ross & The Supremes, this hit Broadway musical looks at a time in American musical history when R&B blended with pop to create an entirely new American sound. This is the show that produced the incomparable “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going.” Parents: Consider this PG-13. Theatre Charlotte, 501 Queens Rd. Tickets are $28.

Dada Woof Papa Hot

Three Bone Theatre

May 28 – 20, June 4 – 6

It’s a fall night in New York City, and two couples who recently met are out to dinner. Alan and Rob and Scott and Jason find common ground as gay couples raising children in the city and arrange a play date for their kids. As the friendship grows, the couples’ conversations deepen from school to marriage trouble. Dada Woof Papa Hot explores the urban parenting experience, particularly at this cultural #lovewins moment. Duke Energy Theater at Spirit Square, 345 N. College St. Tickets are $22-$28.


What the Constitution Means to Me

Blumenthal Performing Arts Center’s Broadway Lights Series

June 23 – July 5

Broadway’s Pulitzer Prize finalist and Tony-nominated Best Play comes to Charlotte for a limited engagement. Starting at 15, playwright Heidi Schreck earned her college tuition by winning Constitutional debate competitions across the country. In this hilarious play, she resurrects her teenage self and traces the relationships among four generations of women and the document — still being lauded, pondered and hotly debated — that lays out their rights. Knight Theater. Tickets start at $25. 


We asked a few gallery owners and managers: Which exhibitions are you most excited about in early 2020?

SOCO Gallery  I  Scott Avett  I  Jan. 22 – Mar. 7

Best known for his music, the older Avett Brother is also an accomplished visual artist. This will be his first solo art gallery exhibition of his paintings and works on paper. It comes on the heels of his first museum exhibition at the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh.

Sozo Gallery  I  DREAMERS & DOERS  I  Feb. 5 –
March 4

This exhibition will feature the work of Percy King, a self-taught wood portrait artist, and Nico Amortegui, a Charlotte-based artist who was born in Colombia and is known for his large-scale paintings and murals (pictured above). In addition, Communities In Schools will install a collage portrait by nationally known pop artist Jason Mecier featuring one of its former students. A portion of sales from the show will benefit CIS. 

Jerald Melberg Gallery I Susan Grossman I Jan. 25 – March 7 

“The very nature of her work is exciting,” says Gaybe Johnson, the gallery’s registar. “Susan is a native New Yorker and seems to intuitively capture the essence, the movement and energy of urban life with her charcoal and pastel drawings. The stories they tell, both clear and implied, draw you in and invite you to make the story your own.”

Shain Fine Art I The Parks: Two-Person Show I Feb. 28-Mar. 13

This annual show features Charlotte husband-and-wife artists Laura and Trip Park. “It is always one of our most popular and colorful shows!” says Sybil Godwin, gallery owner. SP

Intel of Your Wildest Dreams!


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