‘A Real Slice Of Entertainment’

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June 18, 2018
Forbes Center For The Performing Arts Unveils 2018-19 Masterpiece Season
Daily News-Record     6/16/18
HARRISONBURG — James Madison University’s Forbes Center for the Performing Arts announced its 2018-19 Masterpiece season on Thursday, giving season ticket holders a sneak peek into the internationally acclaimed musicians, dancers and theater companies that will grace the stage over the next year.
Regan Byrne, the executive director of the Forbes Center, said this season has something for everyone.
“[There’s] a stupendous number of shows that are international in scope, that are comedies, some of the top classical music performers around; so, it’s really got such a blend of exceptional quality and I think that is something we really strive for when we try to put together a season,” Byrne said.
The Forbes’ ninth season features more than 120 shows, including performances by professional artists and companies and JMU music, dance and theater students and faculty.
Each season, the Forbes Center strives to bring world renowned performers to Harrisonburg. Byrne acts as a curator, researching groups and speaking to agents at conferences to find diverse performers who she thinks would interest the community.
“What I’m trying to do is bring artists in that people haven’t necessarily seen all the time,” Byrne said. “We book international groups [and] groups that people may have never experienced. There’s a trust level that’s been established.”
The season will kick off with a performance by The DASH Ensemble, a New York-based contemporary dance company that will perform with JMU students on Sept. 7 and 8 for the annual New Dance Festival. Dancescapes, with JMU’s Virginia Repertory Dance Company, will perform Dec. 6-8, featuring guest choreographer Sarah Burke and other distinguished artists.
The School of Theatre and Dance will perform the play “Intimate Apparel” by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage, Sept. 25-29 and 30, followed by the musical “Into The Woods” Oct. 12-14, Qui Nguyen’s “She Kills Monsters” Oct. 30 and Nov. 2-3, Green Day’s “American Idiot” Feb. 19-24, and Yukio Mishima’s “Sotoba Komachi” April 23-24 and 26-28.
The Soweto Gospel Choir is one of the most anticipated concerts this season, performing “Songs of the Free: Celebrating The Centennial of Nelson Mandela’s Birth” on Nov. 2. The critically acclaimed Grammy and Emmy-winning gospel choir from South Africa has collaborated with Celine Dion, Aretha Franklin, Josh Groban and U2, and has performed for Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu and former U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.
Another highlight this season will be the Israeli troupe Mayumana’s performance of “Currents.” Mayumana’s performers fuse dance, music and theater. The acclaimed Tel Aviv-based group has performed around the world since 1996.
“I’m really excited about Mayumana. It’s an incredibly strong show,” she said. “It has elements of stomp, percussion and dance.”
Mayumana will perform at the Forbes Feb. 28 and March 1.
Byrne is also looking forward to hearing the Shanghai Opera Symphony Orchestra on Feb. 9. Led by conductors Zhang Chengjie, Zhang Guoyong and Lin Yousheng, the orchestra is embarking on its first North American tour. The orchestra’s
classical repertoire includes Verdi’s Overture to “La forza del destino” and Xinghai’s “Yellow River Piano Concerto.”
Reduced Shakespeare Company will surely have audiences laughing out loud on Nov. 14. “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare,” London’s longest-running comedy, features performances of all 37 of Shakespeare’s plays in 97 minutes.
“Reduced Shakespeare is really fun,” Byrne said. “[It’s] just a real slice of entertainment.”
On Jan. 16, The Kennedy Center Theater for Young Audiences on Tour will perform “Me...Jane: The Dreams & Adventures of Young Jane Goodall” at the Forbes Mainstage Theatre. Based on the book “Me...Jane” by Patrick McDonnell, the musical adaption tells the story of famous conservationist and animal activist Jane Goodall’s childhood.
The season features several renowned musicians playing diverse styles of music. On Oct. 28, Humayun Khan, a vocalist and musician from Afghanistan, will perform Afghan folk music, classical Indian khayal and Pakistani qawwali playing traditional Afghan and Indian instruments such as the harmonium, tabla and tanpura.
Pianist Jeremy Denk, a MacArthur Genius Fellow, will play at the Forbes Center on Jan. 23. Denk, also the winner of the Avery Fisher Prize and the Musical America Instrumentalist of the Year Award, has performed with the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony and Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
His piece “Goldberg Variations” went No. 1 on the Billboard Classical chart.
Violist Wilner Baptiste and violinist Kevin Sylvester, together called Black Violin, will perform on April 11. Formed in Florida in 2004, Black Violin fuses classical music with elements of hip-hop, rock, bluegrass, R& B and pop. The duo has collaborated with artists such as Kanye West, Alicia Keys and Aerosmith.
The performing arts center will offer several “Forbes Family Fun” events this season. In addition to “Me...Jane,” other kid friendly shows include “Diary Of A Worm, A Spider & A Fly” by the Dallas Children’s Theater on April 30, and “They Called Her Vivaldi” by the Theatre Lovett in Dublin, Ireland, on Feb. 25.
“I love our family series because making theater available to young kids is so important because those are our future audiences,” Byrne said. “We want to get families in this space as well.”
Season tickets go on sale to the general public on June 26. Tickets can be purchased online at jmuforbescenter.com or by calling 568-7000.
“The arts are just an uplifting and wonderful experience, and the facilities are beautiful. It’s reasonable, and we hope that more and more people will come,” Byrne said. “We are really the premier performing arts center in the Valley, and we take that very seriously.”

Regan Byrne, the executive director of The Forbes Center for the Performing Arts, unveiled the upcoming 2018-19 Masterpiece season on Thursday.

The Soweto Gospel Choir is one of the most anticipated concerts this season at the Forbes Center, performing “Songs of the Free: Celebrating The Centennial of Nelson Mandela’s Birth” on Nov. 2.