A magnet for a wealth of entertainment, the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts’ modern facility looks as impressive as the roster of guests that performs on its gargantuan stage. Its multistory, glass-ensconced exterior grants visitors full glimpses into the glowing lobby. Once inside, event-goers can head into the venue’s 2,100-seat auditorium, where crisp acoustics allow them to completely appreciate musicians’ notes, actors’ lines, and the bell ring of the friendly hunchback who lives in the rafters.
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).
Devised by the crew of Strictly Jazz Entertainment, the 2nd annual Pianos in the Park JazzFest palliates families and friends with a relaxing evening of jazz and soul, filling Overton Park with the mellow tones of assorted ivory-ticklers, saxophone maestros, and groove engineers. This year’s festival features the esteemed Philadelphia trio Pieces of a Dream, whose blend of smooth jazz has charmed audiences since 1976. Adding to the evening’s jubilant spirit, Sal Crocker and the Sax on Sunday Quartet deliver straightforward jazz free of air guitars and electronic gongs. Former Bar-Kays keyboardist and platinum-selling gospel jazz artist Winston Stewart bears witness with an uplifting set of rhythm and praise, and Will Graves & Soul fills the air with old fashioned R & B. Food and beverage vendors are on hand for fueling finger snaps and belly dances, and a moon bounce allows jazz-savvy children to eschew gravity and intercept floating quarter notes. This event allows BYOB.
Canada's Classical Theatre Project shatters modern preconceptions about the dryness of Shakespeare by infusing the romantic tragedy of Romeo and Juliet with a potency and youthful electricity that snuffs reluctance in the Bard-averse. On an inventive chalk-circle set, the Toronto players whisk viewers to an Elizabethan marketplace in the 16th century, engaging the imagination without relying on cumbersome stage props. Hearts melt as Romeo, the Montague, and Juliet, the Capulet, fall in love against the odds, sweeping the audience along on their way to ghost prom. Shakespeare’s colloquies come naturally from the mouths of the virile acting talents, who translate the text for this generation’s ears without changing a word. Classical Theatre Project's rendition of Romeo and Juliet, intended for ages 11 and older, treats Shakespeare's tragedy like a rock concert, except with better enunciation and a higher mortality rate. A surviving artifact established in 1890, the historic and lovingly restored Orpheum Theatre adds majesty to the performance with its brocade draperies and crystal chandeliers.