Hampton Arts’ highly anticipated 2020-21 Season kicks off in October and runs through June, offering a wide range of entertainment and viewing options for the Coastal Virginia community.
Remaining nimble during the era of COVID-19, artistic director Richard M. Parison, Jr. deftly rescheduled and expanded the season. The result is one of Hampton Arts’ most eclectic and dynamic line-ups in its 33-year history. Starting on the main stage in February 2021 with the Duke Ellington Orchestra (February 11) and concluding with the Coastal Virginia Bluegrass and Brew Festival (June 4 – 6), The American Theatre’s 2021 season celebrates live performance through a diverse calendar of globally celebrated acts. The spotlight also shines on visual arts at The Charles H. Taylor Visual Arts Center with a roster of curated exhibitions and juried competitions highlighting the immense talent and visual artistry found throughout the Commonwealth.
Safety protocols will be implemented at both venues, including reduced capacity to maintain social distancing and additional deep cleaning measures. And for the first time in Hampton Arts history, The American Theatre will introduce a dynamic new Encrypted Virtual Ticket option with MyLIVE Streaming. This Virtual Ticket will enable ticket buyers to view live performances from the comfort of their own homes
As part of its continued commitment to audience accessibility, The American Theatre also brings back 35 for All, offering all seats at $35 or less, with further discounts for virtual tickets.
“I’m thrilled to welcome audiences back to The American Theatre and The Charles H. Taylor Visual Arts Center,” said Parison. “Our seasons typically take years to plan. We quickly pivoted to reschedule many performers to allow for best practices amid the pandemic. Artists are eager to return to our intimate stage, and to our boutique galleries! The entire staff cannot wait to welcome back both our community of artists and audiences.”
“Now more than ever, it’s crucial to recognize that culture in our community isn’t a luxury: It’s a necessity,” continued Parison. “We’ve all turned to television, music, books and hobbies to fill our days during these stressful times. But to commune with others and experience live performance or wander a gallery for the full experience of an exhibition is wholly unique. These shared experiences give us joy and hope for the future.”
“Since my arrival in Coastal Virginia 30 years ago, I’ve witnessed Hampton Arts blossom into a rich cultural institution that is an integral part of the fabric of our community,” said City of Hampton Mayor Donnie Tuck. “My colleagues and I are weathering an unprecedented storm to ensure that the arts remain a vital part of our local landscape. The forthcoming season is a testament to their dedication and commitment. We become stronger through such shared experiences. During such an unprecedented time, I can’t think of a better way to lift one another up than through the arts.”
The American Theatre Representative Season Highlights:
The 5th Dimension — Go “Up, Up and Away” with one of the most prolific soul and R&B groups of all time. Audiences will instantly recognize many of The Fifth Dimension’s number one hits, including “Wedding Bell Blues” and the iconic “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In” as they take audiences down a musical memory lane, from their early songs from the 1960s and 70s to performing on the world’s most famous stages. Six Grammy Awards and 24 gold records, along with an induction into the Grammy Hall of Fame, are but a few of the accolades bestowed upon the legendary group. Original member Florence LaRue is still “Workin on a Groovy Thing,” leading a new generation of Dimensions and attracting audiences of all ages and backgrounds. (Saturday, February 27, 2021, 8 p.m.)
Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo —Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, the world’s foremost all-male comic ballet company is more than on pointe, they’re on fire! This exceptional dance troupe, affectionately referred to as The Trocks, returns to The American Theatre to perform a repertoire that pays tribute to the world of ballet with a gender-bending spin. From faithful renditions of original works to modern, boundary-pushing choreography, Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo’s dedication has remained constant: to bring the pleasure of dance to the widest possible audience. (Saturday, April 24, 2021, 8 p.m.)
Arturo Sandoval: A Jazz Legend — “This astonishing trumpeter, pianist and composer has inspired audiences in every corner of the world and awakened a new generation of great performers,” said President Barack Obama of the legendary jazz musician Arturo Sandoval. The Cuban native’s decade-spanning career has earned him 10 Grammy Awards, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and countless other accolades for his musicianship and humanitarian efforts. Recognized as one of the most brilliant, multifaceted and renowned musicians of our time, this performance offers the chance to witness a living legend in an intimate, up-close-and-personal setting. (Saturday, May 1, 2021, 8 p.m.)
An Evening with Melissa Manchester — “Through the Eyes of Love,” Melissa Manchester’s Grammy-nominated hit, is just a hint of a 45-year career that began as a back-up singer for Bette Midler and grew into a spectacular songbook spanning 20 studio albums. Musical icons such as Barbra Streisand and Roberta Flack have recorded her songs, while Manchester herself has paid tribute to the artists who have influenced her over the years, from Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett to Carly Simon and Edith Piaf. Manchester comes to the American to perform a collection of favorite songs in her unique way, with beautiful phrasing and a rich, earthy tone that’s been her signature sound since the singer- songwriter’s early days in New York City. (Friday, May 7, 2021, 8 p.m.)
CeCe Winans in Concert — After last season’s sold-out concert, powerhouse vocalist CeCe Winans returns for another two captivating and soulful performances. The best-selling and most-awarded female gospel artist of all time, Winans’s dynamic presence has graced stages around the world as she reimagines gospel with the captivating sounds of pop, country and R&B. Throughout her astonishing career, Winans has been awarded a staggering 12 GRAMMY Awards, 20 Dove Awards, and 7 Stellar Awards. (Saturday, May 8, 2021, 2 p.m. | 8 p.m.)
Kathleen Turner: Finding My Voice — Hollywood legend Kathleen Turner takes audiences on a remarkable behind-the-scenes journey through her storied career of stage and film. Peppered with songs from the Great American Songbook, Turner croons hits, including “Let’s Fall in Love,” “On the Street Where You Live” and “Every Time We Say Goodbye”— each uniquely showcasing her instantly recognizable voice. Turner’s film roles include “Romancing the Stone,” “Prizzi’s Honor,” and “Peggy Sue Got Married,” in addition to her Tony-nominated performances in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” on Broadway. Turner’s one-woman show is profoundly personal and packed with humor, great music, and one-of-a-kind insights. (Saturday, May 22, 2021, 8 p.m.)
Coastal Virginia Bluegrass and Brew Festival — Celebrating its fourth year, the Coastal Virginia Bluegrass and Brew Festival returns for what has become one of the region’s most anticipated musical events. A trio of genre-defining bluegrass acts and some of Coastal Virginia’s finest local breweries, cideries and distilleries converge for a can’t-miss weekend of entertainment. This year’s line-up includes Carbon Leaf (Friday, June 4, 2021, 8 p.m.), Steep Canyon Rangers (Saturday, June 5, 2021, 8 p.m.) and The Steeldrivers (Sunday, June 6, 2021, 8 p.m.).
The Charles H. Taylor Visual Arts Center Representative Exhibition Highlights:
Small Works — While much of the most famous works of art catch our attention due to their grandiosity, the “Small Works” exhibition is here to paint a different picture — a miniature one! Artists from around the region are invited to submit miniature and small artworks in any media. Artworks in all media are represented, and the exhibition presents a wide range of styles, techniques, content, imagery and intent. (December 12, 2020 – January 2, 2021; Opening Reception: December 12, 3 p.m. – 5 p.m.)
Hampton Arts League Member Exhibition — The Hampton Arts League Member exhibition presents the artwork of the Charles H. Taylor Visual Arts Center’s artist member organization. Emerging and established artists who work in a variety of media are represented. Member artists are invited to exhibit one artwork of their choosing. The exhibition showcases the talented artists who reside and work in Hampton Roads and who support Hampton Arts. The James Warwick Jones Best in Show Award ($750), First ($500), Second ($250) and Third Place ($100) Awards are given. (January 30, 2021 – February 27, 2021; Opening Reception: February 6, 3 p.m. – 5 p.m.)
Materials — This exhibition explores engaging artworks in a variety of media that impart the physicality of the materials used. Whether metal, glass, clay, wood, fiber or pigment, all these materials have intrinsic, exact qualities that are thrilling to explore, discover and push. “Materials” is a look at tactile and compelling artworks, art-making processes, and how the various properties and possibilities of materials inform artists’ decisions to use them. The nature of a material can take more than two hands to work with and often more than one mind to solve its problems. Thus, collaborations and collective experiences through studios and guilds often help support and are essential to artists’ exploration of these materials. (March 25 – May 1; Opening Reception: March 27, 3 p.m. – 5 p.m.)
Common Era: A Morgan Gilbreath Solo Exhibition — Showing concurrently with “Materials” is a solo exhibition by 2018 Virginia Glass Guild Exhibition Best in Show winner Morgan Gilbreath. Held in the Annex Gallery, Common Era is a new body of work that explores the passage of time through labor-intensive practices imposed onto found and collected materials. From a decade of calendar planners and a team’s worth of cheerleading uniforms to every ball used in the artist’s elementary school gym — these peripheral objects are deconstructed, processed, and re-created into sculptures, which oscillate between devotional objects, personal memorials and contemporary monuments. These new sculptures exist like the intersection of a Venn diagram: inserting mundane, accumulated materials into a larger social, historical, and spiritual continuum.
In addition to its major exhibits, The Charles H. Taylor Visual Arts Center Manager Jennifer Morningstar will be introducing smaller, specialized and program-related exhibitions throughout the year.