One of the oldest community theaters in the country, Theatre Memphis has been putting on high-quality productions for 90 years. The 2010–2011 season features six highly acclaimed plays and musicals fit for auditory and sensory feasting. Tony Award nominee for Best Book of a Musical, [title of show] (January 14–30), is a love letter to the musical theater that follows two struggling writers in a race to craft an entry to a musical theater festival. Amadeus (February 4–20) traces Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart as he rises to become the number one ranked composer in the eyes of Austrian Emperor Josef. March 11–April 3, the stage and its reddest curtains dance to Cabaret, along with a charmingly carefree nightclub performer. Richard III, the third in William Shakespeare’s acclaimed three-part Richard series, appears April 8–24, preparing the stage for Picnic (April 29–May 15) and Crazy for You (June 3–26).
The Memphis Symphony Orchestra has been breaking strings and the hearts of screaming fans since its inception in 1952. This year, the orchestra will once again resonate throughout the elegantly crafted Cannon Center, sending seasonal shivers down the tickled spines of all audience members. The Home for the Holidays performance includes vocal joys from soprano Ashley Brown, best known for her portrayal of Mary Poppins on Broadway, in addition to a medley of carol-worthy classics performed by the Memphis Symphony Chorus and the University of Memphis Concert Singers. The evening's combination of power and cheer will cause many to be moved to tears, which will likely form puddles in the theater, making exiting nearly impossible without an inflatable raft.
The interactive exhibits and programs compiled by the Pink Palace Family of Museums reinforce a mission that has stayed constant for 80 years: to "inspire people to learn how history, science, technology, and nature shape the Mid-South." Attached to Clarence Saunders' mansion built in the 1920s, the museum's permanent exhibits take an eclectic approach to chronicling the past, revealing everything from ancient fossils to contemporary southern history. Inside, visitors can chart the history of Memphis from the early Spanish explorers through the Civil War or walk through a replica of Saunders' original Piggly Wiggly—the country’s first self-service grocery store, and even see a shrunken head. Global adventures are chronicled on a four-story screen at the CTI-IMAX theater, and the Sharpe Planetarium explores the cosmos from the comfort of a 130-seat theater.
Traveling to east Memphis, one can discern the natural side of the Pink Palace Family of Museums. Lichterman Nature Center encompasses 65 acres of lush gardens filled with native wildflowers, trees, and wildlife. The center combines self-guided nature walks with plant sales and educational activities to expose visitors to the natural world.
The consortium of professional instructors at Fred Astaire Dance Studio, which was cofounded by the legendary toe tapper himself, shepherds students of all ages and skill levels through lessons that span the style spectrum. Low-pressure private sessions allow enthusiastic teachers to fine-tune individual students' techniques and form, using their expert eyes and mechanical dancing shoes preprogrammed to do the Charleston. Patrons can learn how to cavort through classic waltz and fox-trot romps or swivel through the modern steps of salsa, swing, or samba. For dancers hoping to hoof it up in a social setting, the group practice parties provide a one-night extravaganza of instruction, demonstrations, and amateur firewalking.
Your Groupon is good for one of the company's final three productions of its 40th season. Reacquaint yourself with the classic Oliver! and sing along to the musical tunes of your childhood, such as "Food, Glorious Food," and "Consider Yourself," as the rapscallion orphans of Dickens's tale tear through the streets of 19th-century London. Or opt for a ticket to the regional premiere of Red, White, and Tuna, a two-man portrayal of the inhabitants of a small Texas town with more than 15 characters and 40 lightning-quick costume changes. Or take in the musical Hairspray to relive the trials and tribulations of Tracy Turnblad as she breaks into the 1962 Baltimore dance-show circuit. Instead of threatening lawsuits or vicious revenge, the cast of local Memphis actors will dazzle audiences with their triple threats of singing, dancing, and acting.
Providing a stage for bands of roaming musicians to ply their melodic wares, Hi-Tone Café also feeds hordes of Memphis's hungry with its wide-ranging menu. Start things off with a Middle Eastern staple, hummus and a handmade pita ($4), or go for the gustatory gold of upstate New York with nine hot wings plus celery and carrots ($7). Six-ounce burgers ($6) use beef from local Neola Farms, except for the handmade veggie burger, which eschews meats both domestic and foreign for oats, veggies, soy, and sesame. The New York–style cheese pizza (slice $2.50/small $9.50/large $12.50) pays homage to sewer-dwelling, martial-arts-competent teenage reptiles whose genetic mutations make pizza their only digestible option, while eclectic topping posses grace the varied house specialty pizzas (slice $4/small $13/large $16). The barbecue pizza puts grilled chicken or pulled pork in barbecue sauce instead of marinara, and the Greek pie is comprised of eggplant, artichoke, roasted red peppers, and feta cheese. Toppings ($.50 per topping for a slice/$1 per topping for a small/ $2 per topping for a large) such as bacon and Roma tomato can be annexed and terminated at will, unlike tenancy on Russia's first mandatory moon colony.
Germantown Performing Arts Centre hosts performances by music, theater, and dance troupes from around the world, holds community events and enriching educational programs. During Superstars of Dance with Ballet Grand Prix, a bevy of blockbuster ballerinas collected from American Ballet Theatre, Mariinsky Ballet, the Dutch National Ballet, and the New York City Ballet will perform works by Balanchine and selections from Le Corsaire and Don Quixote. Connoisseurs who prefer a modern take on traditional tutus and tip-toe traipsing can patiently watch the calendar count down to April 9, which is when the Spanish Compania Nacional de Danza take the stage. Led by choreographer Nacho Duato, the highly trained contemporary ballerinas twist themselves into eye-surprising positions that spell out the answers to this year's SAT. With today's deal, you can buy multiple Groupons and bring along a group of unsuspecting friends to your choice of performances.