In planning its upcoming season, the Society for the Performing Arts made sure "ecletic" remains its invisible middle name, lining up everything from magic escape artists to dancers, a concert violinist and Chinese acrobats.
"Our 2014-2015 season opens the door to performing artists for all ages and tastes," said SPA CEO June Christensen. "From the debut of America's Test Kitchen with Christopher Kimball to cabaret-style performances on the Jones Hall stage with the burlesque troupe known as The Hot Box Girls to Mexican-American singer Lila Downs to the National Acrobats of China, our lineup offers a mix of traditional and not-so-traditional events. One company I am most excited about sharing with Houston for the first time is the Scottish Ballet performing its beautiful rendition of A Streetcar Named Desire." Magic also takes center stage when The Illusionists, seven incredible performers showcasing mind-bending acts, make their Houston debut.
The scheduled performances:
American's Test Kitchen LIVE* with Christopher Kimball 8 p.m., Thursday, August 21, 2014 Jones Hall
Christopher Kimball, founder and editor of Cook's Illustrated, hosts an insider's look at PBS Television's "America's Test Kitchen." Audiences are promised"an insider's view of the show, including the process of how the equipment testing, food tastings and science experiments take place."
Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host Ira Glass, Monica Bill Barnes, Anna Bass 8 p.m., Saturday, September 20, 2014 Cullen Theater, Wortham Center
"This American Life" host Ira Glass, working with Monica Bill Barnes & Company, combines two art forms that, Glass says: "have no business being together - dance and radio." One is all words and no visuals. One is all visuals and no words."
The Passing Zone 7:30 p.m., Friday, September 26, 2014 Cullen Theater, Wortham Center
Owen Morse and Jon Wee entertain by catching flying chainsaws and flaming torches. It's a comedy act that includes audience participation or as the press release states: "Three audience members are brought on stage to seemingly float through space, orbiting planets and narrowly escaping dangerous collisions"
MOMIX Dreamcatcher 8 p.m., Friday, October 10, 2014 Jones Hall
Choreographer Moses Pendelton has created Dreamcatcher, a combination of dance and theater. The promise: "Uncannily athletic dancers perform highly inventive and often illusionistic choreography."
The National Acrobats of China 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Saturday, October 11, 2014 Jones Hall
Thirty-five performers said to be the best in Chinese martial arts, illusion and acrobatics will spin plates and do cycling stunts among other things. This story continues on the next page.
Rafał Blechacz, Piano 8 p.m., Friday, October 17, 2014 Cullen Theater, Wortham Center
Polish pianist Rafał Blechacz's first prestigious honor came in October 2005 when he swept every First Prize at the 15th Frédéric Chopin International Piano Competition in Warsaw. Since then he's been all over the world, playing in top concert halls and now he's coming to Houston.
Joshua Bell, Violin 8 p.m., Wednesday, November 5, 2014 Jones Hall
Violinist Joshua Bell is headed back to Houston. According to the press release:
"Recently named the Music Director of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, Bell is the first person to hold this post since Sir Neville Marriner formed the orchestra in 1958. In addition to his concert career, Bell enjoys chamber music collaborations with artists such as Pamela Frank, Steven Isserlis and Edgar Meyer, as well as occasional collaborations with artists outside the classical arena, having shared the stage with Josh Groban, James Taylor and Sting."
Senegal St. Joseph Gospel Choir 8 p.m., Friday, November 7, 2014 Jones Hall
The Senegal St. Joseph Gospel Choir, is a company of 15 singers and four traditional Senegalese drummers, that will be making its Houston debut performing works including "Amazing Grace," "The Storm is Passing Over," and "Day Oh."
David Sedaris 8 p.m., Saturday, November 8, 2014 Jones Hall
David Sedaris returns to Houston to share readings of new and unpublished works including, most likely, his most recent book, Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls.
Preservation Hall Jazz Band A Creole Christmas 8 p.m., Friday, December 5, 2014 Jones Hall
Preservation Hall Jazz Band brings A Creole Christmas to Houston and is scheduled to perform songs such as "Blue Christmas," "Swingin' in a Winter Wonderland," "Bells will be Ringin'" and "The Dreidel Song."
Diavolo - Architecture in Motion 8 p.m., Friday, January 9, 2015 Jones Hall
"For its return to Houston, Diavolo will perform the final work of a trilogy created specifically for the Hollywood Bowl, titled Fluid Infinities, as part of its program. Choreographed to Philip Glass' Symphony No. 3, this work is set on an abstract dome structure on which performers explore metaphors of infinite space, continuous movement and humanity's voyage into the unknown future."
The Hot Box Girls 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., Saturday, January 10, 2015 On Stage at Jones Hall
The Hot Box Girls are an all-singing, all-dancing burlesque troupe. Performances include bits from the Orpheum Circuit and Tin Pan Alley, as well as Guys and Dolls and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
Amadéus Leopold, Violin 8 p.m., Friday, January 23, 2015 Cullen Theater, Wortham Center
The Juilliard graduate and Itzhak Perlman protégé changed his American name to Amadeus Leopold as homage to two of his musical heroes: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and renowned violinist Leopold Auer. Previously known as Hahn-Bin, he uses performance art as part of his classic music program.
Buddy - The Buddy Holly Story 8 p.m., Friday, February 6, 2015 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., Saturday, February 7, 2015 Jones Hall
'Buddy - The Buddy Holly Story tells the true story of his meteoric rise to fame from that moment in 1957 when "That'll Be The Day" hit the airwaves until his tragic death less than two years later." Songs also include "Peggy Sue," "Oh Boy!" and "Not Fade Away."
Complexions Contemporary Ballet 8 p.m., Friday, February 20, 2015 Cullen Theater, Wortham Center
Desmond Richardson and Dwight Rhoden's Complexions Contemporary Ballet returns to Houston, to perform INNERVISIONS, "a modern dance tribute to the music of Stevie Wonder, a work which encompasses everything from big, dynamic ensembles to poignant duets and solos."
Shaolin Warriors 7:30 p.m., Saturday, February 28, 2015 Jones Hall
"The kung fu masters known as the Shaolin Warriors return to Houston, to showcase remarkable skill and stunning movement. Performed by the Buddhist monks of the Shaolin Temple, a sect that has become known throughout the world for its disciplined spiritualism and deadly martial-arts prowess, the production features many forms of Shaolin kung fu, as well as a look at the daily temple life of the monks and their Zen Buddhist philosophy."
Tango Buenos Aires 8 p.m., Friday, March 13, 2015 Jones Hall
Tango Buenos Aires returns for one night only with tango in its purest form. "A company of 25, Tango Buenos Aires combines the key elements of love, passion and romance, with the precise movement of its dancers and live music of Astor Piazzolla and other South American composers." SPA is in the process of curating a Tango Festival for the week leading up to this performance.
Hilary Kole Over the Rainbow: A Musical Tribute to the Artistry of Judy Garland 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., Friday, March 27, 2015 On Stage at Jones Hall
Vocalist Hilary Kole conjures up legendary songstress Judy Garland singing works including "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," "The Trolley Song," "As Long As He Needs Me" and "Look for the Silver Lining."
Lila Downs 8 p.m., Saturday, April 11, 2015 Jones Hall
Lila Downs will return to Houston for one night only -- this time in Jones Hall The Mexican-American singer and composer, sings everything from Latin music to American folk, jazz, blues and rock.
Centre Chorégraphique National de Créteil et du Val-de-Marne / Compagnie Käfig 8 p.m., Saturday, April 17, 2015 Cullen Theater, Wortham Center
Centre Chorégraphique National de Créteil et du Val-de-Marne/Compagnie Käfig makes its Houston debut with the work Correria Agwa.
" Correria (Running) plunges us into a hectic race -- just like the one that governs our daily lives -- and uses the movement of bodies to create a show that takes your breath away! Agwa (Water) is about water, at once a vital component of our bodies, a precious natural resource to be economized and preserved, and a symbol of renewal."
Scottish Ballet A Streetcar Named Desire 8 p.m., Friday, May 15, 2015 Brown Theater, Wortham Center Scottish Ballet's adapts Tennessee Williams' Pulitzer Prize-winning work, A Streetcar Named Desire. "The company paired award-winning theater and film director Nancy Meckler, renowned for her work with the Royal Shakespeare Company, with internationally acclaimed choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, to create this tour-de-force full-length ballet."
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The Illusionists Witness the Impossible 7:30 p.m., Tuesday-Friday, June 2-5, 2015 2 p.m.and 7:30 p.m., Saturday, June 6, 2015 Jones Hall
Seven illusionists perform tricks of magic and illusion, aided by 20 sidekicks do "grand illusion, levitation, mind-reading, disappearance and, for the first time ever, a full view water torture escape."
"This group of world-class performers takes cues from the showmanship of the great illusionists of the past and pairs it with a contemporary aesthetic, from which set and costume design lend the genre a theatricality and artistry never seen before. Witness the impossible with The Anti-Conjurer, The Trickster, The Escapologist, The Inventor, The Gentleman, The Enchantress and The Surrealist."
For more information regarding performance dates, times and details, call 713-227-4772 or visit www.spahouston.org.