After a too-long hiatus, the arts are back. Here are 21 wonderful reasons to head to a theater, museum or arena this fall.
by Page Leggett
At this point, your 8-year-old neighbor’s kazoo recital might qualify as an artistic “best bet.” We’ve been through a long cultural dry spell. Fortunately, the arts are back. You’ve no doubt experienced Immersive van Gogh at Camp North End (you have, haven’t you?) You may have tickets to Garth Brooks’ sold-out show at Bank of America Stadium in September, or Sir Elton’s concert in 2022.
But your plans don’t have to be that grand. Sitting in a darkened theater, surrounded by other humans, and witnessing a concert, play or any performance may be a cure for the post-pandemic blues.
Charlotte Squawks 16: Going Viral!, Aug. 19 – Sept. 12
The creators describe it as “Saturday Night Live meets Broadway meets our beloved Queen City.” The creative team of Mike Collins and Brian Kahn — a lawyer who can always fall back on comedy writing — collaborate with local singers and actors to make fun of pop culture, politics and Charlotte’s tendency to take itself a mite too seriously. They had to skip the 2020 show, so there’s two years’ worth of material to cover. Booth Playhouse at Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, 130 N. Tryon St. Tickets from $24.50-$59.50 for VIP seats. carolinatix.org
Colin Hay, Aug. 19
The former Men at Work frontman’s latest solo tour is sure to contain songs from his new covers album, I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself. He’s virtually guaranteed to sing the crowd-pleasing “Land Down Under,” but diehard fans are there for the soulful introspection of his ballads — to love, to his late father, to the joys of sobriety. His between-song banter is often hilarious and endearing. McGlohon Theater at Spirit Square, 345 N. College St. Tickets are $49.50-$69.50. blumenthalarts.org
Trumpet Summit, The JAZZ ROOM, Sept. 10-11
The Jazz Room returns with a season opener of classics performed by five of the top jazz trumpeters in the Southeast. “The trumpet is played over a whole range of musical genres, but the most famous trumpet players inevitably hail from the world of jazz,” reads the news release. Expect songs by Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie and more. 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. Ticket prices TBD. thejazzarts.org
Douglas Tappin’s I Dream, Opera Carolina, Sept, 16, 18 and 19
Opera Carolina is back with an updated version of the 2018 blockbuster. A reimagined account of the last 36 hours in the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., this “popera” celebrates the civil rights pioneer, his inner struggles and the peaceful protest movement he championed. Using opera, jazz and pop, Tappin honors the preacher from Atlanta — a very human hero — who became an icon while pursuing a dream of equality for all. Belk Theater, 130 N. Tryon St. Tickets from $22-$157. operacarolina.org
John Leslie Breck: American Impressionist, Mint Museum Uptown, Sept. 18-Jan. 2, 2022
The French Impressionists get all the glory, but America produced painters of that perennially popular genre, too. Breck is credited with introducing Impressionism to America after studying with Claude Monet in Giverny, France. Inspired by The Mint’s s 2016 acquisition of his “Suzanne Hoschedé-Monet Sewing,” this exhibition includes 70 of his works. Many have not been on public view in more than a century. Works by other French and American Impressionists will be on view as well. Mint Museum Uptown, 500 S. Tryon St. 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
My Wonderful Birthday Suit, Children’s Theatre of Charlotte, Sept. 25-Oct. 10
A colorful surprise party gives three kids something unexpected to celebrate — their differences. Friendships are in jeopardy when comments about skin color slip out. Fortunately, one of the kids has a “thinking tree” — a place they can go to search for the words to make things better. “We’re excited to have audiences back at the theater — especially for this show because, not only is it a play with music and puppetry about a birthday, but ImaginOn’s birthday is Oct. 8,” said Children’s Theatre’s Alex Aguilar. “We’ll have two things to celebrate closing weekend.” Performances are at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Saturdays and 2 p.m. on Sundays. Recommended for ages 4 and up. The McColl Family Theatre at ImaginOn, 300 E. 7th St. Tickets from $15-24. ctcharlotte.org
Lindsey Buckingham or Spike Lee, Sept. 21
Two virtuosos will be making noise at either end of Tryon Street on Sept. 21, and we don’t know how to choose between them. The groundbreaking Fleetwood Mac singer/songwriter/guitarist? Or the groundbreaking writer/director of such important and popular films as Do The Right Thing, Malcolm X and BlacKkKlansman? Both joints are bound to be hoppin’. Lee is in town for a talk as part of Charlotte SHOUT!, the uptown arts festival that takes place Sept. 17-Oct. 3. Spike Lee at Belk Theater, 130 N. Tryon St. Tickets from $35-$195 for VIP meet & greet. Lindsey Buckingham at Knight Theater, 550 S. Tryon St.. Tickets from $35-$235 for VIP soundcheck package. Buckingham tickets, carolinatix.org; Lee tickets, carolinatix.org
Get Out in Concert, Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, Sept. 30 and Oct. 1
Experience Jordan Peele’s comedic thriller with a social conscience (that also gives a nod to The Stepford Wives) live with the CSO performing the soundtrack as part of Charlotte SHOUT! Get Out won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, and composer Michael Abels won the Black Reel Award for Outstanding Original Score. The film is equal parts funny and horrifying. Belk Theater, 130 N. Tryon St. Single ticket pricing TBD. charlottesymphony.org
Tuck Fest, U.S. National Whitewater Center, Oct.1-3
Cram everything you missed during the pandemic into three days at this family-friendly outdoor extravaganza. There’ll be obstacle courses, trail and kayak races, climbing competitions, yoga and live music. Bands include Steep Canyon Rangers, Dawes and Boy Named Banjo. The 2019 Tuck Fest drew 48,000 people — expect big crowds. 5000 Whitewater Center Parkway. whitewater.org.
Bob Saget, The Comedy Zone, Oct. 1-2
If you know Bob Saget only from the squeaky-clean, family-friendly Full House, you don’t know Bob Saget. He’s got a darkly funny side, as evidenced by the title of his 2014 memoir, Dirty Daddy: The Chronicles of a Family Man Turned Filthy Comedian. The popular standup performer has been cracking jokes for more than 30 years. And they’re often raunchy. Shows at 7 and 9:45 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. 900 NC Music Factory Blvd. Tickets are $30 for general admission and $40 for Gold Circle. cltcomedyzone.com
The Rocky Horror Show, Actors Theatre of Charlotte, Oct. 6 – 31
Poor Brad and Janet. It’s dark, rainy and they’ve had car trouble. Good thing there’s a castle not too far in the distance — and a sweet transvestite waiting to welcome them. You’re shivering with antici … pation, aren’t you? Let’s do the time warp again. Part of ATC’s “Rock the Barn” series at The Barn at MoRa – A Levine Property, 8300 Monroe Rd. Season subscriptions available; single ticket pricing TBD. atcharlotte.org
50th Anniversary Celebration, Charlotte Ballet, Oct. 7-9
Charlotte Ballet’s season will kick off with a production that honors the Company’s first five decades. Charlotte Ballet II Program Director Christopher Stuart will present a new work set to music by Philip Glass. Former Artistic Director Salvatore Aiello’s The Rite of Spring returns with re-imagined designs and, for the first time, live music performed by the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra. Due to adult themes, this performance is considered PG-13. Belk Theater, 130 N. Tryon St. Single ticket pricing TBD. charlotteballet.org
Gold Over America Tour (G.O.A.T.) starring Simone Biles, Oct. 27
If you’ve been hooked on the Olympics this summer, you may soon be suffering from withdrawals. But you can get a quick fix of everyone’s favorite Olympic sport. The 35-city tour stops in Charlotte for a high-energy, “gymnastics-meets-pop-concert spectacular” headlined by pint-sized powerhouse Simone Biles. An all-star team of female gymnastic champions will dazzle with their athleticism and grace while spreading messages of empowerment. Spectrum Center, 333 E. Trade St. Ticket prices start at $26.50. ticketmaster.com
An Evening with George Winston, Oct. 31
He’s been composing and performing for more than 40 years, sold more than 15 million albums and plays about 100 concerts annually. George Winston may be the best-known pianist in America. His music is evocative, soothing, peaceful — it could be the antidote for stressful times. Knight Theater, 550 S. Tryon St. Tickets from $25-$55. carolinatix.org
Isaac Julien: Lina Bo Bardi — A Marvellous Entanglement, The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, opens Oct. 30
Just as one immersive art experience (van Gogh) leaves Charlotte, another one arrives. This is the U.S. premiere of a nine-screen immersive installation that spotlights Italian-Brazilian architect (and furniture and jewelry designer) Lina Bo Bardi (1914-92) and her contributions to modernism. British filmmaker Isaac Julien (Looking for Langston) pays tribute to the architect and her legacy. The show’s title comes from a Bo Bardi quote: “Time is not linear; it is a marvellous entanglement.” Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, Levine Center for the Arts, 420 S. Tryon St. Admission to the museum is $9 for adults; $7 for college students, seniors and educators; $5 for youth 11-18; and free for kids up to age 10. bechtler.org
My Dinner with Andrea, Charlotte’s Off-Broadway, Nov. 4-20
“Live actors in front of a live audience,” is what director Anne Lambert shared about this production. Who knew there’d be a day when that would constitute a headline? But it’s big news now. Lambert’s sister, Susan Lambert Hatem, wrote the play inspired by the film My Dinner with Andre. The plot: Julia Grace is a scientist who needs a job. Andrea is a billionaire with a scientific startup. They’re having dinner at the finest restaurant in town. Julia Grace could get an offer that allows her a chance to change the world. Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. Pay What You Can Night is Wednesday, Nov. 10 at 7:30 p.m. Arts Factory (formerly the JCSU Arts Factory), 1545 W. Trade Street. Tickets are $25; discounted tickets available for students, seniors and groups of 10 or more. facebook.com/charlottesobroadway.
Straight No Chaser, Back in the High Life Tour, Ovens Auditorium, Nov. 9
These nine guys, using nothing but their voices as instruments, helped usher in the national craze for a cappella music. You’ll probably know (and love) every song they sing. The genres they cover include pop, rock, R&B, holiday standards, TV theme songs and commercial jingles. Always a good time. Ovens Auditorium, 2700 E. Independence Blvd. Ticket prices start at$39.50. ticketmaster.com
All Together Now, Theatre Charlotte, Nov. 12-14
The historic building that houses the theater was damaged in an electrical fire in 2020. Ongoing repairs make it impossible to stage productions there, but the show, as they say, must go on! “The Road Trip Season Tour” takes place all over town. The November production is one weekend only, and it’s sort of a Broadway’s greatest hits revue. Sing along to music from Company, Come From Away, Rent, Waitress, Ragtime and more. Dilworth United Methodist Church, 605 East Blvd. Single ticket pricing TBD. theatrecharlotte.org
FRIENDS! The Musical Parody, presented by Blumenthal Performing Arts, Nov. 27
If you loved Monica, Ross, Rachel, Chandler, Phoebe and Joey, you’ll love the musical parody that pokes good-natured fun at the gang that hung out at New York’s (apparently) only coffee shop. In fact, the action takes place in Central Perk. This is a national tour making a one-night stop in Charlotte. Could we be any more excited? Knight Theater, 550 S. Tryon St. Tickets start at $28.50. carolinatix.org
Reginald Dwayne Betts, poetry reading and master class, Charlotte Center for the Literary Arts, Dec. 3-4
Before he became an acclaimed writer and Yale Law School alum, Dwayne Betts was a 16-year-old sentenced to nine years in prison. He’s written three volumes of poetry, including his most recent, Felon. Betts’ writing challenges prevailing notions of justice, and his speaking engagements focus on the role that grit, perseverance — and literature — played in turning his life around. Friday, Dec. 3: Evening poetry reading at Midwood International and Cultural Center Auditorium. Saturday, Dec. 4: Master class at Charlotte Center for Literary Arts. 1817 Central Ave. charlottelit.org
An Officer and A Gentleman, presented by Blumenthal Performing Arts, Dec. 7-12
You know the movie starring Richard Gere and Debra Winger. You know the theme song, “Up Where We Belong.” Now, see the jukebox musical, which contains other hits you’ll know from the era — “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” “Don’t Cry Out Loud,” “Material Girl.” The stage adaptation includes choreography by Patricia Wilcox (Motown, A Night with Janis Joplin). Part of Blumenthal’s Equitable Bravo Series, a one-year series featuring five shows. Ovens Auditorium, 2700 E. Independence Blvd. Single ticket pricing TBD. carolinatix.org SP
All information was correct as of press time. However, event details, including dates and pricing, are subject to change. We encourage you to check an event’s website before making plans.
Top photograph: Isaac Julien, O que é ummuseu? / What is a Museum? (Lina Bo Bardi – A Marvellous Entanglement), 2019. Courtesy the artist, Jessica Silverman Gallery and Bechtler Museum of Modern Art