Like all of us, arts organizations and venues are carefully navigating the omicron variant. Here are 20 shows and cultural events we’re (tentatively) most excited about for the first half of 2022. Check out our Happenings calendar for more entertainment ideas.
by Page Leggett
We may still be wearing masks or showing proof of Covid-19 vaccination at museums, theaters and concert venues in 2022 — but it’s a small price to pay to be part of a live audience again. Noticeably absent from this list is Hamilton (April 26 – May 15). You already know about its return, we assume, and already have tickets — no one wants to throw away their shot. We assume you also know that Maestro Christopher Warren-Green’s final concerts as music director of Charlotte Symphony Orchestra will be Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 on May 20-22. (This is how we sneak more than 20 events into our list.) Two of our original best bets were “Covid-canceled” before press time. Check websites and call the box office to be sure events are still proceeding as planned.
The World of Anna Sui, organized by the Fashion Textile Museum, at The Mint Museum
through May 1
Anna Sui’s iconic brand includes jewelry, shoes, fragrances and cosmetics, in addition to her quirky, often vintage-inspired clothing. The exhibition offers a peek inside the designer’s creative process, including sketches, mood boards, photographs and more — plus more than 100 looks from Sui’s archives. Furniture from her personal collection and other objects transport the museumgoer to her studio, and the catwalk videos and soundtracks bring the runway to Randolph Road. Mint Museum Randolph, 2730 Randolph Rd. Admission is $15 for adults, $10 for college students and seniors, $6 for children 5-17 and free for members and kids 4 and younger. mintmuseum.org
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit
Jan. 21 – 22
The former Drive-By Truckers front man got married, had a child and formed a new band. He still sings about his old (wild) life, but age, sobriety and wisdom have given his lyrics a maturity and poignancy not always found in rock music. (“I’m a white man looking in a Black man’s eyes/Wishing I’d never been one of the guys/Who pretended not to hear another white man’s joke/Oh, the times ain’t forgotten.”) Don’t miss the Americana poet of Muscle Shoals. 8 p.m. Ovens Auditorium, 2700 E. Independence Blvd. Prices at ticketmaster.com fluctuate but start at about $43 + fees.
Innovative 1970, Charlotte Ballet
North Carolina Dance Theatre — the precursor to Charlotte Ballet — was born in 1970. Fifty-one years later (Covid interfered with the 50th anniversary season), choreographers take inspiration from the design, music, politics, fashion and literature from the grooviest decade. Expect new works from choreographers Rena Butler, Ja’Malik and Company I dancer Andrés Trezevant. Center for Dance, 701 Tryon St. Times and ticket pricing were not determined at press time. charlotteballet.org
Her haunting voice belies her 20 years. Her lyrics (she writes her own), however, are filled with adolescent angst in the internet age. If you have teenage daughters, you probably already have tickets. 8 p.m. Spectrum Center, 333 E. Trade St. Tickets are sold out for now; check ticketmaster.com (and other ticket resale sites) for updates.
Andrea Bocelli, In Concert for Valentine’s
The beloved Italian tenor has just five shows lined up to honor Valentine’s Day. Charlotte and Vegas — two cities not always mentioned in the same sentence — are among them. 8 p.m. Spectrum Center, 333 E. Trade St. Prices at ticketmaster.com fluctuate, but starting price is about $83 + fees.
What The Constitution Means to Me
Broadway’s Pulitzer Prize finalist and Tony Award-nominated Best Play comes to town for a limited engagement. At just 15, Heidi Schreck earned her college tuition by winning Constitutional debate competitions across the United States. In this funny and optimistic play, she revisits her high school self to trace the relationships four generations of women have with the founding document that shaped their lives — and shapes all our lives as Americans. Showtimes vary by day. Knight Theater, 550 S. Tryon St. Tickets from $20. carolinatix.org
The classical-meets-hip-hop duo has a diverse and devoted following while having pioneered a genre all its own. You’re likely to hear everything from Vivaldi to Marvin Gaye to Beethoven. 7:30 p.m. Belk Theater, 130 N. Tryon St. Tickets from $25. carolinatix.org
Milton Suggs Sings the Great Jazz Composers, presented by The Jazz Room
Feb. 18 – 19
Atlanta-raised,New York-based composer/singer Milton Suggs gives “vocal life and lyrics,” according to Blumenthal’s website, to jazz’s classic instrumentalists, including Wayne Shorter, Lee Morgan, Roy Hargrove and more. Suggs has been compared to legendary soul singer Donny Hathaway. Shows at 6 and 8:15 p.m. on Friday and 7 and 9:15 p.m. on Saturday. Stage Door Theater, 155 N. College St.. Tickets are $20 in advance; $25 at the door. thejazzarts.org
Ragtime: The Musical, presented by Piedmont Players Theatre
Feb. 25-27, March 4-6 and 11-13
Set in New York, this sweeping musical portrayal of early 20th-century America based on E.L. Doctorow’s novel tells the story of three families — Jewish immigrants, African-Americans and upper-crust whites — pursuing the American dream. They face the timeless contradictions of richer and poorer, hope and despair, freedom and servitude. Evening performances at 7:30 p.m.; weekend matinees at 2:30 p.m. Meroney Theater, Salisbury. Adult tickets are $23, senior/student/military tickets are $21. piedmontplayers.com
Morehouse College Glee Club, presented by Charlotte Symphony Orchestra
Back by popular demand, the vocalists of Atlanta’s Morehouse College Men’s Glee Club share the stage with the CSO. This collaboration, led by Resident Conductor Christopher James Lees and Morehouse Glee Club conductor David E. Morrow, raises money for scholarships for Charlotte-area students attending Morehouse, the alma mater of Samuel L. Jackson, Spike Lee, Jeh Johnson (former of Secretary of Homeland Security) and MLK. 7:30 p.m., Belk Theater, 130 N. Tryon St. Tickets start at $10. carolinatix.org
Opera Carolina: The Falling and the Rising
The Falling and the Rising centers around a female hero known only as “Soldier.” After sending a video message home on the eve of her daughter’s 13th birthday, the Soldier is severely wounded by a roadside bomb. Doctors place her in an induced coma. In her quasi-dream state, the Soldier envisions scenes of war and its aftermath. Her odyssey in this one-act opera, created from interviews with soldiers at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, conveys the indomitable spirit of our U.S. military heroes. 7:30 p.m. Sandra Levine Theatre at Queens University, 2319 Wellesley Ave. Tickets from $30. operacarolina.org
Crash Test Dummies
The Canadian band that gave us “Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm” and “Superman’s Song” reunite for the 25th anniversary of their album, God Shuffled His Feet. Lead singer Brad Roberts’ distinctive bass-baritone gives the band its famously evocative sound. 7:30 p.m. Booth Playhouse at Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, 130 N. Tryon St. Tickets from $39.50. carolinatix.org
One Noble Journey: A Box Marked Freedom, Children’s Theatre of Charlotte
March 26 – April 2
The true story of Henry “Box” Brown, an enslaved African American, unfolds with surprising humor. At age 33, Brown was bequeathed to his master’s son, who sent him to work in his tobacco factory in Richmond, Va. When Brown’s wife and children were sold to someone in another state, he hatched a daring escape plan that entailed him being sealed in a wooden crate marked “Handle with care” and shipped to abolitionists in Philadelphia. A story of heroism and hard-won freedom. Recommended for ages 9 and up. Performances are at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Saturdays. Wells Fargo Playhouse, 300 E. 7th St. Tickets from $15. ctcharlotte.org
Charlotte Symphony Orchestra presents Beethoven Meets ’90s Vibe
Atlanta’s Orchestra Noir joins the CSO for an evening of 1990s grooves mashed up with music from the 1790s. Led by conductor Jason Ikeem Rodgers, this blast from the recent past features music from TLC, Color Me Badd, Usher, Brandy, Biggie Smalls and, of course, Beethoven. 7:30 p.m. Knight Theater, 430 S. Tryon St. Tickets start at $19. carolinatix.org
John Mulaney From Scratch Tour
The standup comedian and former Saturday Night Live writer stops in the Queen City for one night only as part of his 33-city 2022 tour. 7 p.m., Spectrum Center, 333 E. Trade St. Ticket prices were not determined at press time. ticketmaster.com
POSTPONED: 2022 U.S. Air Force Concert Band and Singing Sergeants, CPCC
The Singing Sergeants, consisting of 24 active-duty musicians, is the official chorus of the United States Air Force. First formed in 1945, the group added women to its ranks in 1973. They come in peace and use “music to bridge language and cultural differences and [help] advance positive diplomatic relations through song.” 7 p.m. Dale F. Halton Theater, Overcash Center, 1206 Elizabeth Ave., Free and open to the public.
Hype Man, Actors Theatre of Charlotte
April 14 – May 7
A rapper, beat-maker, and hype man find success as a music-making trio, but — after a police shooting — the interracial hip-hop group disagrees about how to use their newfound platform. Race, fame and friendship form the heart of Idris Goodwin’s timely play. Mature themes and language; recommended for ages 14 and up. 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Sunday (April 24) matinee at 2:30 p.m. Single tickets on sale Feb. 11, 2132 Radcliffe Ave. atcharlotte.org
The only jazz singer to have eight albums debut at the top of the Billboard Jazz Albums chart, Mrs. Elvis Costello’s albums have garnered two Grammy Awards and 10 Juno Awards. She’s also earned nine gold, three platinum and seven multi-platinum albums. 7:30 p.m. Belk Theater, 130 N. Tryon St. Tickets start at $24.50. carolinatix.org
Freestyle Love Supreme presented by Blumenthal Performing Arts
May 24– 9
Before Lin-Manuel Miranda gave the world Hamilton — and evenbefore In the Heights — he did Freestyle Love Supreme. Now, more than 15 years later, the original hip-hop musical phenomenon from Miranda, Thomas Kail (who directed Hamilton) and Anthony Veneziale, is landing in Charlotte. Every performance is different, thanks to the wild, improvisational ride. Performers take suggestions from the audience and spin them into quick riffs and full-length musical numbers. This is a “Broadway Lights Extra;” single ticket pricing not determined as of press time. Knight Theater, 430 S. Tryon St. carolinatix.org.
Detroit ’67, Theatre Charlotte
May 26 – June 5
The world is shifting for the two Poindexter siblings, Chelle and Jake, who are running an after-hours juke joint in their basement. But when a mysterious white woman makes her way into their lives, the siblings clash over more than their business. Dominique Morisseau’s powerful play unfolds during an explosive moment in U.S history — the uprising that rocked Detroit in 1967. The New York Times wrote that Morisseau’s work bears traces of August Wilson, Lorraine Hansberry, Tennessee Williams and Anton Chekhov. The action is set to a soundtrack of Motown hits. Theatre Charlotte is on the road this season, and their final play of the season is at CPCC’s stunning new Parr Theatre. 1206 Elizabeth Ave. Single ticket pricing not determined at press time. theatrecharlotte.org SP
featured image: Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit