Performing Arts Society of Acadiana showcases 2011-2012 performances

LAFAYETTE - William Shakespeare, classical Indian dance, “hot” swing music and an international Louisiana born opera star share one thing in common, they are all are showcased on the 2011-2012 performance season of the Performing Arts Society of Acadiana (PASA).

“This year we’ve made it easier than ever for local performing arts lovers to personalize their entertainment experience. Our season and ticket prices were redesigned to help audiences feel more connected to our performances by literally creating their own ‘mini-PASA series’ of dance, music or theater,” explains PASA Executive Director Shanna Higginbotham.

Music fans have a variety to choose from including “Midtown Men,” Mark O’Connor’s “Hot Swing,” featuring Jane Monheit, soprano Elizabeth Futral and “A Far Cry.”

“Midtown Men” kicks off the PASA series Thursday, September 29, with the four original actors/singers from Broadway’s mega-hit musical “Jersey Boys.” This talented foursome is reunited for a one-of-a kind concert experience celebrating the music that defined the 1960s. Tony award-winners Christian Huff, Michael Longoria, Daniel Reichard and J. Robert Spencer bring their unique sound and chemistry to Lafayette, featuring hit songs from The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Jackson Five, The Mamas and The Papas and the Four Seasons. (Note: This presentation of Midtown Men is not a performance of and not affiliated with the show “Jersey Boys.”)

Next up is Mark O’Connor’s “Hot Swing” featuring Jane Monheit on Tuesday, December 13. The “Los Angeles Times” calls Mark O’Connor “One of the most talented and imaginative artists working in music today.”

O’Connor returns to the Heymann Center stage with an evening of original jazz compositions and new holiday works accompanied by the soulful stylings of vocalist Jane Moneheit.

On Friday, January 20, 2012 Elizabeth Futral, international opera superstar and Louisiana native performs in a chamber music recital accompanied by members of the Acadiana Symphony Orchestra. Hailing from Covington, Futral has soared to stardom as one of the world’s favorite coloratura sopranos having performed with notable opera companies including the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera and at the historic Teater an der Wien for Le Nozze di Figaro. This performance is a celebration of Louisiana talent with Futral joined by Acadiana Symphony Orchestra pianist Geraldine Hubbell, for a pitch-perfect evening of music and inspiring vocals.

“A Far Cry” closes out the music portion of the PASA season Thursday, March 8. This self-conducted string orchestra debuts in Acadiana with 17 of the most talented young musicians in the world of chamber music. The Boston Globe calls them “thrilling, intrepid and brilliant.”

This talented ensemble explores the traditional boundaries of classical music, experimenting with the way audiences experience classical chamber music.

In the dance category, fans of traditional ballet, contemporary and classical Indian will have the opportunity to see three of the world’s top companies during the upcoming PASA season.

Complexions Contemporary Ballet launches the dance portion of the series Thursday, October 13. Under the artistic direction of famed former Alvin Ailey dancer/choreographers Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson, Complexions has captivated audiences worldwide with its thought-provoking choreography and graceful, athletic dancers. With appearances on the popular reality show “So You Think You Can Dance,” E! Entertainment’s “Tribute to Style” and “Cirque Du Soleil,” Complexions is a marquee name in the entertainment industry today.

The second dance performance of the season is Ballet Memphis on Thursday, February 2, 2012. The Ford Foundation calls them “a must-see troupe and a national treasure of the cultural world.”

This company features classically trained ballet dancers with a non-traditional repertoire that includes the eclectic music of Roy Orbison, Mozart and Philip Glass. Under the direction of Dorothy Gunther Pugh, Ballet Memphis is known as a classical ballet company with contemporary cool.

Rounding out the dance portion of the series is world-renowned Nrityagram Dance Ensemble on Tuesday, April 3. Heralded as “The most extraordinary Indian classical dance fest in the contemporary world,” Nrityagram has wowed audiences with its distinctive blend of music, dance and elaborate costuming.

“For serious drama fans we are thrilled to welcome back Aquila Theatre to the PASA series,” says Higginbotham. “Although they have appeared on our series in previous years, this is the first time we will present them in the newly renovated Heymann Performing Arts Center. Aquila is a wonderful company that brings a contemporary approach to timeless classics and will present Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’ on Thursday, November 10.”

The New York Times calls them “a classically trained, modernly hip troupe.” Known for their innovative interpretations of classic works, Aquila Theatre has performed everywhere from Carnegie Hall and The Los Angeles Cathedral Plaza to the White House and the Ancient Stadium at Delphi. They are the professional company in residence at the Center for Ancient Studies at New York University and a NYC Board of Education vendor for Arts Education Services.

In addition to its main stage performances, PASA will continue to offer master classes, residency and outreach activities, workshops and daytime performances for school groups throughout the season. PASA Student Performances this season include Complexions Contemporary Ballet, An Evening with Edgar Allen Poe, Aquila Theatre, and “A Far Cry.” For more information about daytime performances for students, call the PASA office at (337) 237-2787.

Tickets are available online only at www.pasaonline.org and must be downloaded and faxed, mailed or hand-delivered to the Heymann Performing Arts Center box office. For more information about the 2011-2012 PASA season visit www. pasaonline.org.

Founded in 1988, the Performing Arts Society of Acadiana is a non-profit organization that presents live entertainment at the Heymann Performing Arts Center and other local venues, creates in-school arts activities, offers daytime performances for students and initiates outreach programs such as PASA PLUS and Play It Again, Lafayette. PASA presents annual performances of opera, dance, drama and a variety of musical acts.

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