The Grand Theatre has announced its most far-reaching entertainment schedule ever, with music, dance, comedy, social commentary and even wild animals scheduled to grace the stage. Season tickets will go on sale to the public on Monday.
“We couldn’t be more excited about the 2012-13 season,” said the Grand’s president, Bill Cull. “We believe it represents a step forward in establishing the Grand as one of the state’s outstanding performing arts venues.”
The upcoming season offers something for every taste. The musical genres run the gamut from South African gospel to Americana to classic country to ‘60s rock.
“It’s a cliché to say that we will offer something for everybody, but we truly believe our music lineup does exactly that,” Cull said.
Perhaps the most distinctive offering is The Jack Hanna “Into the Wild” show, an unscripted, action-packed evening designed to spotlight rare and exotic animal species, while calling attention to the critical need to preserve our dwindling species.
Hanna has been a fixture on television since the mid 1980s, hosting his own show and making regular guest appearances on “The Late Show with David Letterman” and others. He is director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo.
Another highlight is a rare regional appearance by Ladysmith Black Mambazo. For more than 40 years, this a capella male choir from Durban, South Africa, has entranced audiences around the world. Black Mambazo is best known for its collaboration with superstar Paul Simon on his epic “Graceland” album in 1986. But the group also has recorded many critically acclaimed albums of its own, while recording with artists as varied as Stevie Wonder and Dolly Parton.
The Grand auditorium will reverberate with some of the greatest hits of the 1960s when the voice behind songs such as “Good Lovin’,” “Groovin,” and “It’s a Beautiful Morning” takes the stage. Felix Cavaliere’s Rascals is led by the lead singer and organist for one of the era’s most popular exponents of “blue-eyed soul.” The group will perform two shows on Oct. 26.
Guitar wizard Tommy Emmanuel will make a much-anticipated return appearance to the Grand. His last concert here drew an enthusiastic response. Emmanuel enthralls audiences with a facile finger-picking style influenced by his mentor, Chet Atkins. And, like Atkins, his musical references are unlimited – from country, jazz, pop to flamenco and even aboriginal music from his native Australia.
It’s impossible to overstate the excitement and chaos of Beatlemania. The Grand is pleased to welcome a band that re-creates that magical time, “1964: The Tribute.” Unlike some other tribute bands that portray The Beatles even during the period when they had given up touring, “1964: The Tribute” concentrates on the music and appearance of the early years, when The Fab Four took America by storm.
Another legendary performer will be brought to life when Nashville singer Mandy Barnett presents her acclaimed show “Always…Patsy Cline.” Barnett introduced the show to sold-out audiences at the legendary Ryman Auditorium, and has since taken the presentation around the country. Barnett is herself a successful recording artist and a frequent guest on the Grand Ole Opry.
Livingston Taylor is a musical storyteller who has toured for 40 years as a solo act and with artists such as Linda Ronstadt and Jimmy Buffett. Like his brother James, he is a natural performer with a wide range of musical influences. He also has a commitment to music education, serving as a professor at the prestigious Berklee College of Music.
Frankfort’s own Stirfry Musette will serve up an exciting mixture of Celtic, gypsy jazz and Latin acoustic music. Guest musicians violinist Molly Rogers, violin, and Jeri Katherine Howell, guitar, will join the four-piece group.
Texas singer-songwriter Robert Earl Keen will open the 2012-13 season. Keen has spent 30 years sharing his unique blend of Americana music with audiences around the country. Keen is backed by a three-piece band that shares his enjoyment in improvisation. He is a recent inductee into the Texas Heritage Songwriters Association Hall of Fame.
The uplifting, intricate harmonies of legendary groups such as the Dixie Hummingbirds and The Soul Stirrers will be in evidence as the Covington-based The Brotherhood a cappella gospel group makes its first appearance at the Grand.
Henry Rollins is a modern-day Renaissance man – a musician, actor and writer. In his appearance at the Grand, he will be taking on another role – as a monologist. In early September, Rollins will begin a 50-state tour of a presentation entitled “Capitalism.” His presentation will provide pointed commentary and wry observations on America’s democratic process.
Dance Kaleidoscope will make a return appearance to the Grand this season. Their current offering, entitled “Old Blue Eyes: Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack,” is inspired by the music and style of a show business legend. DK is one of the region’s most respected dance companies, with a track record dating back to the 1970s.
Frankfort’s Bluegrass Theatre Guild will present “Christmas Belles,” a comedy about a church Christmas pageant in a small Texas town that spirals into chaos.
Comedian Etta May is an Arkansas native whose Southern roots provide the raw material for an evening of hilarious observations on our unique culture. She frequently appears on CMT and was a participant in the popular Southern Fried Chicks comedy tour.
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
Robert Earl Keen Sept. 11
Tommy Emmanuel Sept. 25
1964: The Tribute Oct. 4
Henry Rollins Oct. 12
Felix Cavaliere’s Rascals Oct. 26 (two shows)
Etta May Nov. 16
BTG “Christmas Belles” Dec. 6-9
The Brotherhood Jan. 11
Stirfry Musette Jan. 25
Ladysmith Black Mambazo Feb. 12
Dance Kaleidoscope Feb. 15
Mandy Barnett March 1
Jack Hanna “Into the Wild” April 11
Livingston Taylor April 26
PUPPET SHOW WEDNESDAY
Squallis Puppeteers will present a live stage show at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, July 11, at the Grand Theatre as part of the children’s summer matinee series. The series is sponsored by McAllen Solutions Inc.
The popular Louisville puppet troupe will present “Rage-O-Saurus Rex.” Set in the late Jurassic period, the presentation includes characters such as a baby T-Rex and a Pterodactyl, along with a talking volcano. Admission is $4 and an adult must accompany children.
Tickets will be sold at the door and in advance from the Grand ticket office. The phone number is 352-7469. Future scheduled children’s shows are the movie “Babe,” July 25, and the movie “Charlotte’s Web,” Aug. 8.
Season tickets for the entire 14-show schedule vary from $240.30 to $432 depending on seat locations. Season tickets may be purchased by calling the ticket office at 352-7469, by visiting the office at 312 W. Main St. weekdays between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., or by purchasing online at www.grandtheatrefrankfort.org. Tickets for individual shows will go on sale later this summer.