Spring arts preview: Picasso, a pigeon, our planet and POTUS

Entertainment The Arts

December 30, 2022



20 prodigious reasons to buy theater and museum tickets this spring  |  by Page Leggett

January 

Men of Change: Power. Triumph. Truth. Presented by the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture and Levine Museum of the New South, through March 12 

Through literary and historic quotes, poetry, art and photographs, Men of Change combines the historical and the contemporary to showcase the impact a few Black male heroes — including Muhammad Ali, James Baldwin, Ta-Nehisi Coates, W.E.B. DuBois and Kendrick Lamar — have had on politics, art, culture and activism. Told across seven themes, the Gantt covers Storytellers, Fathering and Imagining, while the Levine Museum displays Catalysts, Myth-Breakers and Community; both museums will display Loving. The show was developed by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service. Gantt Center: 551 S. Tryon St. Levine Museum: 401 S. Tryon St. Admission is free. ganttcenter.org and museumofthenewsouth.org

A Soldier’s Play, presented by Blumenthal Performing Arts, photograph by Joan Marcus

A Soldier’s Play, presented by Blumenthal Performing Arts, Jan. 10-22 

The 1982 Pulitzer Prize-winning thriller is back. In 1944, on a Louisiana Army base, a Black sergeant is murdered. A series of interrogations leads to questions about sacrifice, service and racial identity. Broadway’s Norm Lewis — the first African-American to play the title role in Phantom of the Opera — leads a stellar cast. Tony winner Kenny Leon directs. The show won the 2020 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play. Knight Theater, 550 S. Tryon St. Tickets start at $25. carolinatix.org

Porgy and Bess, presented by Opera Carolina, Jan. 22-28 

George and Ira Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess stars Kenneth Overton, a Grammy-winning baritone, as Porgy and Nicole Cabell, whose first recording in 2006 was of Porgy and Bess, as Bess. The opera tells the story of Porgy, a disabled Black beggar living on the streets of Charleston as he tries to rescue Bess from Crown, her violent and possessive lover, and Sportin’ Life, her drug dealer, played by tenor Victor Ryan Robertson. Belk Theater at Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, 130 N. Tryon St. Tickets start at about $40. carolinatix.org 

MOMIX Alice, presented by Blumenthal Performing Arts, photographs courtesy Blumenthal

MOMIX Alice, presented by Blumenthal Performing Arts, Jan. 24-25 

MOMIX’s internationally acclaimed dancer-illusionists recreate the magical world of the White Rabbit, Mad Hatter and the Queen of Hearts in this reimagining of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Artistic Director Moses Pendleton fills the inventive production with wild visual effects and acrobatic feats. Knight Theater, 550 S. Tryon St. Tickets start at $20. carolinatix.org 

John Craigie, Visulite Theatre, Jan. 16 

The Americana singer-songwriter delighted the Knight Theater crowd in 2022 when he opened for Mary Chapin Carpenter. Now, he’s back in Charlotte as the headliner. Craigie’s latest album, Mermaid Salt, originated in the loneliness of lockdown in the Pacific Northwest. The isolation turned out to be fertile ground for introspective new music. Craigie’s between-song banter is as good as the best stand-up comedians. 1615 Elizabeth Ave. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 day of show. visulite.com

February

Carrie Underwood, The Denim & Rhinestones Tour, photograph by Randee St. Nicholas
Carrie Underwood, The Denim & Rhinestones Tour, photograph by Randee St. Nicholas

Carrie Underwood, The Denim & Rhinestones Tour, Feb. 8 

She’s been one of America’s sweethearts since her American Idol debut in 2005. (She was the show’s fourth-season winner.) Since then, she’s gone on to win eight Grammy Awards and the Academy of Country Music award for Entertainer of the Year thrice. The “Jesus, Take the Wheel” singer will be joined by special guest Jimmie Allen, a 2022 Grammy nominee for Best New Artist. Allen is only the second Black artist ever — after Darius Rucker — to earn the Country Music Association Award for New Artist of the Year. Spectrum Center, 333 E. Trade St. Ticket prices vary. ticketmaster.com

John Mellencamp: Live and In Person, Feb. 8 

No matter what name he’s going by — Johnny Cougar, John Cougar, John Cougar Mellencamp — the singer/songwriter from America’s heartland has had staying power since he emerged on the national scene in the 1980s. With hits like “Jack and Diane,” “Pink Houses” and “Small Town,” his themes are often nostalgic for a sweeter, simpler time. But as he proves on “R.O.C.K. in the USA” and “I Need a Lover,” he can also rock out with the best of ’em. Ovens Auditorium at Bojangles Entertainment Complex, 2700 E. Independence Blvd. Tickets prices vary. ticketmaster.com

Innovative Works, presented by Charlotte Ballet, photograph courtesy Charlotte Ballet
Innovative Works, presented by Charlotte Ballet, photograph courtesy Charlotte Ballet

Innovative Works, presented by Charlotte Ballet, Feb. 3-25 

A perennial fan favorite, Innovative Works features three contemporary dances. One is Alejandro Cerrudo’s Silent Ghost, which marks the first time Charlotte audiences will see his work performed locally since he became artistic director last spring. Charlotte Ballet also welcomes for the first time Jennifer Archibald, founder and director of the Arch Dance Company in New York City and Cincinnati Ballet’s resident choreographer, and UNC School of the Arts alum and 2021 Guggenheim Fellow Helen Simoneau. Patricia McBride and Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux Center for Dance, 701 N. Tryon St. Tickets start at $30. charlotteballet.org 

Picasso Landscapes: Out of Bounds, Mint Museum Uptown, Feb. 11-May 21 

In the first-ever museum exhibition to explore Pablo Picasso’s landscape paintings — a genre he’s not especially known for — Picasso Landscapes highlights the cubist’s exploration of this traditional genre through more than 40 works. The Mint is the first of only three venues in the United States — and the only one on the East Coast — to host this exhibition. The show coincides with the 50th anniversary of the artist’s death and offers a glimpse into his creative process, from his earliest days in art school to months before his death in 1973. Mint Museum Uptown, 500 S. Tryon St. Advance tickets are $25 for adults, $20 for college students and seniors. mintmuseum.org

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, presented by Blumenthal Performing Arts, Feb. 21-22 

The dancers of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will again electrify the Blumenthal stage with contemporary works and classics from the company’s repertoire. Ailey (1931-1989) founded his all-Black dance company in New York in 1958. Each program concludes with the justifiably popular Revelations, Ailey’s masterpiece that debuted in 1960 and which, according to Vogue, “cannot fail to move.” Ailey, who won a Kennedy Center Honor in 1988 and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously in 2014, was considered a national treasure. Belk Theater at Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, 130 N. Tryon St. Tickets start at $29.50. carolinatix.org.

March

Misery, presented by Theatre Charlotte, March 3-19 

You may know the Stephen King novel, and you surely know the movie adaptation, which won Kathy Bates a Best Actress Oscar for playing an obsessed (to put it mildly) fan of romance novelist Paul Sheldon, played by James Caan. When Sheldon wakes up incapacitated and snowbound after a car crash in the secluded home of his “No. 1 fan,” his nightmare begins. William Goldman’s adaptation traps you in the room with the injured Paul as he tries to outwit his able-bodied captor, Annie Wilkes. Ron Law, the retired, longtime Theatre Charlotte executive director, returns from Greensboro to direct. 501 Queens Rd. Tickets from $28-$32. theatrecharlotte.org

Charlotte Symphony: Picasso + Stravinsky, March 10-11 

In celebration of The Mint Museum’s Picasso Landscapes exhibit, hear works by Igor Stravinsky, one of Picasso’s close friends and collaborators. Conductor Pablo Bortolameolli joins the CSO to lead an exploration of period music, including two ballets for which Picasso designed costumes and sets: Stravinsky’s Pulcinella (1920) and Erik Satie’s Parade (1917). Knight Theater, 550 S. Tryon St. Tickets start at $22. carolinatix.org 

POTUS: Or, Behind Every Dumbass Are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him Alive, presented by Charlotte Conservatory Theatre, March 16-19 

This political farce had a successful, limited run on Broadway last summer. Rachel Dratch, Julianne Hough and Vanessa Williams starred in that version, directed by five-time Tony Award winner Susan Stroman. CCT’s version will be directed by Stephen Kaliski (artistic director of New York’s Adjusted Realists/visiting assistant professor of theater at Davidson College). “POTUS is only recently available for regional productions,” says CCT founder Marla Brown. “Making sure Charlotte has access to our national theater scene is one of our goals. POTUS provides us a path to laugh at our political scene regardless of affiliation. But language is heavily R-rated.” Booth Playhouse, 130 N. Tryon St. Tickets start at $20. carolinatix.org 

An Evening with Deepak Chopra, March 22 

Experience Deepak Chopra’s legendary New Age healing as he leads the audience through a deep experiential meditation designed to create a state of peace, happiness and heightened awareness. Chopra is the author of more than 90 books, many of them New York Times bestsellers. He is the founder of the nonprofit The Chopra Foundation, a professor of family medicine and public health at the University of California, San Diego, and a senior scientist with The Gallup Organization. Sandra Levine Theatre at the Sarah Belk Gambrell Center for the Arts and Civic Engagement, Queens University of Charlotte, 2319 Wellesley Ave. Tickets start at $25. carolinatix.org  

Head Over Heels, presented by QC Concerts, March 25-26 

This jukebox musical comedy springs from the creative team that rocked Broadway with Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Avenue Q and Spring Awakening. The comedic love story, set to the tunes of the 1980s all-female rock band The Go-Go’s, includes hits such as “We Got the Beat,” “Our Lips Are Sealed,” “Vacation,” as well as frontwoman Belinda Carlisle’s “Mad About You” and more. QC Concerts performs concert-style, meaning without sets and costumes. But every line of dialogue is spoken, and every lyric is sung. The productions typically sell out in advance. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for happy hour before the 7:30 p.m. show. A $15 food and beverage minimum (in addition to the cost of the ticket) is required. Free Will Craft + Vine, 3701 N. Davidson St. Tickets are $18. qcconcerts.com

April

Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox: Life in the Past Lane presented by Blumenthal Performing Arts, photograph by Dana Lynn Pleasant

Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox: Life in the Past Lane presented by Blumenthal Performing Arts, April 4 

When New York City pianist Scott Bradlee created Postmodern Jukebox in his basement in Queens in 2011, he wanted to remake contemporary pop hits using the classic sounds of eras gone by. He made Miley Cyrus sound like The Platters, Bruno Mars sound like Frank Sinatra and The Spice Girls sound like The Andrews Sisters. Now, more than a decade later, Postmodern Jukebox has become a pop-culture phenomenon, having played over 1,000 shows on six continents. Knight Theater, 550 S. Tryon St. Tickets from $25. carolinatix.org

Jazz at The Bechtler: An Evening with Chris Brubeck, April 7 

Jazz great Dave Brubeck’s son, Chris — a star in his own right — continues to distinguish himself as a creative force. An award-winning writer, he leads two groups: the Brubeck Brothers Quartet (with brother Dan on drums) and Triple Play, an acoustic trio featuring Chris on piano, bass and trombone along with guitarist Joel Brown and harmonica player Peter “Madcat” Ruth. Chris performs as a solo trombonist with orchestras across the country and is a long-standing member of the Dave Brubeck Quartet, his late father’s jazz band. Jazz at the Bechtler is always a good time. Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, Levine Center for the Arts, 420 S. Tryon St. Performances are at 6 and 8:15 p.m. Tickets are $20 for the public and $16 for museum members. bechtler.org

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! The Musical presented by Children’s Theatre of Charlotte, April 8-May 7 

If you have, or once had, little children, you probably know the book. When a determined pigeon decides he simply must drive the bus, he’ll stop at nothing to get behind the wheel. Celebrated author Mo Willems’ award-winning book comes to life on stage in this wondrous musical adaptation. Willems himself wrote the script and lyrics for the one-act, 60-minute show. Themes of responsibility and accountability are emphasized, as is, of course, persistence. For ages 4+. Saturdays at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. McColl Family Theatre at ImaginOn, 300 E. 7th St. Tickets start at $20. ctcharlotte.org 

Our Planet Live in Concert, presented by Blumenthal Performing Arts, photograph by Hanout Photography

Our Planet Live in Concert, presented by Blumenthal Performing Arts. April 13 

The Emmy Award-winning Netflix series is now a live concert event. Our Planet Live in Concert combines breathtaking HD cinematography with new orchestrations by Oscar-winning composer Steven Price performed by a live onstage orchestra. A journey of discovery across our planet featuring narration by the legendary Sir David Attenborough, this concert is a celebration of Mother Earth and the wildlife that call our planet “home.” Knight Theater, 550 S. Tryon St. Tickets start at $29.50. carolinatix.org

May

The Glorious World of Crowns, Kinks and Curls presented by Three Bone Theatre, May 5-20 

This is more than a play about hair. Historian Henry Louis Gates Jr. said it’s “about identity and the quest for equality. As such, it is a play all should see and celebrate.” Playwright Keli Goff chronicles the intersections of politics, pop culture, race and gender in America. This collection of monologues and vignettes, ranging from heartbreaking to hilarious, asserts that hair — for Black women, in particular — can be both personal and political. In the tradition of The Vagina Monologues and Love, Loss and What I Wore, The Glorious World of Crowns, Kinks and Curls features the voices of Black women from around the globe recalling moments when their hair won glory — or flopped. The show contains adult language and themes, including trauma, and is recommended for ages 14+. Arts Factory at West End Studios, 1545 W. Trade St. General admission tickets are $25; teacher and student tickets are $15. threebonetheatre.com  SP

Featured image: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, photograph by Dario Calmese

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