by Steve MacQueen, Artistic Director
The 2015-16 season is now on sale! Get tickets for any of these shows at www.flynntix.org.
The Flynn’s 2015-16 season keeps rolling with country superstar Dwight Yoakam (September 17), who brings a blistering live show—along with decades of awards and accolades—to Burlington for his Flynn debut.
Dwight Yoakam, September 17
Chicago dance troupe Lucky Plush (October 3) returns with The Queue, a piece that was co-commissioned by the Flynn and developed during a two-week production residency here in the summer of 2014. I’m excited to see the final product. Woody’s eldest, Arlo Guthrie (October 7), returns for his once-a-decade full performance of his 18-minute masterwork of philosophical hilarity, The Alice’s Restaurant Massacree. Someone in Guthrie’s camp told me he had an encounter with Burlington police years ago at the Flynn . . . anyone know the story? Woody Allen has written plays before but Bullets over Broadway (October 22) is his first big-time musical, an adaptation of his hit 1991 film involving prohibition, gangsters, dames, and the theater. New Orleans pianist Henry Butler (October 23) is one of the giants of his great American musical tradition—Dr. John calls him “the pride of new Orleans”—and he’s teamed with New Yorker Steven Bernstein & the Hot 9 for a scintillating take on ‘20s hot jazz that looks backward and forward simultaneously. This one’s fun! Today’s most creative and engaging voice in tap dance, Michelle Dorrance brings her company Dorrance Dance (October 29) for ETM: The Initial Approach, a high-tech, high-energy show that integrates incredible tapping with futuristic technology.
Ry Cooder is one of the great American musical adventures, and the Flynn is ecstatic to present him and his friends Ricky Skaggs and Sharon White as Cooder-White-Skaggs (November 16), for an evening of gospel, bluegrass, and pure Americana. For Anglophilia (by way of Canada), there’s Toronto’s remarkable Art of Time Ensemble (November 19). Basically a chamber orchestra with all-star vocalists, the ensemble performs the Beatles’ beyond-legendary Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in its entirety.
December brings an annual treat: the musical stage version of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (December 11), the story of . . . oh, you know the story!
Ragtime, January 20
Not too many works have been great books, movies, and Broadway shows, but E.L. Doctorow’s Ragtime (January 20) certainly qualifies. The show, a kaleidoscope of fiction and reality in the American ‘20s, won Tonys for Best Book and Best Score. Singer/songwriter Laura Nyro never really got her due (though Eli’s Coming and And When I Die scored on cover versions by Three Dog Night and Blood, Sweat & Tears), but jazz pianist/arranger Billy Childs (January 23) is looking to change that with his towering tribute, Map to the Treasure: Reimagining Laura Nyro. A sextet with harp and two magical voices (Becca Stevens and Alicia Olatunji), the band resurrects Nyro’s music in electrifying fashion.
Black Angels over Tuskegee (January 29) tells the incredible story of the first African-American pilots to fly in World War II. These brave men overcame harrowing obstacles and ridiculous racism to earn this honor, dramatized in this long-running off-Broadway production. The modest tale of an Irishman and Czech woman bonding over music, the Broadway musical Once (February 1 & 2) touched a chord in viewers and critics, earning eight Tonys including Best Musical. This is the show’s first season on the road and it’s here at the Flynn for two shows. Having hosted the first two installments of The Intergalactic Nemesis, we had to book the conclusion, right? TWIN INFINITY (February 5) continues this deeply entertaining retro-futuristic tale, which uses hundreds of projected animated cells and a live onstage cast to create a cross between a ‘30s radio serial and a graphic novel. The ever-hilarious Paula Poundstone (February 6) makes her third appearance at the Flynn and we’re hoping it’s as popular as the first two, which sold out. New York City’s tremendous annual world music event GlobalFest is hitting the road for the first time as GlobalFest Live! (February 24). The inaugural tour examines the ritual of Carnivále in the Americas, featuring joyous music from Brazil (Casuarina), Haiti (Emeline Michel) and Jamaica (Brushy One-String). Speaking of global vision, here’s a riddle: what has Swedish songs, is set on a Greek Island, and took Broadway by storm? Of course, it’s Mamma Mia! (February 29), the ABBA brainchild that, despite Pierce Brosnan’s performance in the film version, continues to fill theaters around the world.
The Cat in the Hat (March 8) continues to beguile those two kids (and that goldfish) left alone on a rainy day in this musical adaptation of Dr. Seuss’ famed book, which is an autism and sensory-friendly family performance. Yamato’s Bakuon: Legend of the Heartbeat (March 11) is bound to be less sensory friendly, since those giant taiko drums can get loud. Still the pageantry, musicality, and pure excitement of this group is undeniable. Things start getting Gaelic on St. Patrick’s Day, when County Sligo band Dervish (March 17) brings its deeply traditional music to life, via top instrumentalists and the gorgeous vocals of Cathy Jordan. Things stay Irish but get a bit weird with the Samuel Beckett Trilogy: Not I / Footfalls / Rockaby (March 23), three seminal one-act works by the Nobel Prize-winning genius. The show is performed by Scottish actress Lisa Dwan, who has received endless raves on both sides of the pond for her riveting performances of these famously difficult works. Seriously, don’t miss this one.
Evelyn Glennie, April 11
Keeping it Scottish, the world’s premier orchestral percussionist Evelyn Glennie (April 11) performs with the Community Engagement Lab Orchestra as the concluding event in a week-long educational tour of Vermont. Glennie is dazzling to watch and even more incredible to hear, as she makes music from her vast array of percussion instruments…or from a tin can and a stick. Brazil’s astonishing Companhia Urbana de Dança (April 14) comprises Rio street dancers as choreographed by founder Sonia Destri. The result is the excitement of hip-hop and capoeira, pushed to a new level by Destri’s moves. They’re an electrifying young company you’ll be hearing a lot more from. A student matinee favorite, the Peking Acrobats (April 15) bring their centuries-old mix of trick-cycling, tumbling, balance, and somersaulting for a return engagement.
Quite possibly the greatest living jazz composer (she gets my vote), Maria Schneider (April 20) and her incomparable orchestra return to the Flynn for the first time since 2008. She’ll debut a new work, co-commissioned by the Flynn. Fado, that sad and sensuous music of Portugal, has received a youth transfusion over the last decade. The greatest of these new re-interpreters is Ana Moura (April 29), who immerses herself in tradition while also updating the genre through collaborations with her admirers, which include Prince and the Rolling Stones. When the Alonzo King LINES Ballet (May 4) takes the Flynn stage for the first time in more than a decade, the company will be dancing to the sounds of nature, thanks to an intriguing collaboration with composer/ecologist Bernie Krause. Krause records natural sounds and turns them into soundscapes, and I’m intrigued to see how King’s beautifully fluid dancers interpret these sounds.
Alonzo King LINES Ballet, May 4
FlynnSpace most certainly deserves its own long article, as this year we’ve planned one of our basement space’s most ambitious seasons ever. But if I can only mention a few, they include avant garde jazz pianist Matthew Shipp (September 18); local jazz musician/composer Brian McCarthy’s ambitious jazz suite of songs built around Civil War themes (November 6-7); the hilarious and profound dancing of Monica Bill Barnes & Co. (December 3), last seen to such great effect on the MainStage with Ira Glass; the Bang on a Can All-Stars performing Brian Eno’s magical Music for Airports (February 19); Soovin Kim & the Ying Quartet playing Beethoven (February 27-28); the National Theatre of Scotland’s fever dream of a musical comedy, The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart (April 8-10), spoken in verse and set in a bar (in FlynnSpace, the audience doubles as the bar’s patrons); and, the show I am most looking forward to this whole season, a performance by Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq (May 14), who channels punk and avant-garde into a wordless display that is as much an exorcism as a performance. Not for everyone, certainly, but if it’s for you, I’ll see you there.