There will be something for everyone at The Eli and Edythe Broad Stage at Santa Monica College’s Performing Arts Center when the 2015-16 season opens Sept. 19.
Now entering its eighth season, the Broad Stage threw an announcement party for donors and media with select performances on Monday night. In a preview of what’s to come, the antic Impro Theatre, which riffs on audience suggestions, presented an improvisational “play” done in the style of a Jane Austen novel. They’re featured in the new season with “Jane Austen Unscripted.”
Among classical music offerings, the season opener features beautiful opera superstar Romanian-born Angela Gheorghiu. There’s a piano recital by another superstar, Andre Watts. And, in addition to “Beethoven, Bagels and Banter,” featuring performances and conversations with musicians (and bagels) on select Sunday mornings, resident musicians The Calder Quartet present their Beethoven Cycle, and Sir James Galway will share his virtuosic flute stylings.
Mitchell Heskel, director of the Broad Stage, said the Beethoven Cycle is a multi-year performance that includes classical and contemporary work.
“To my knowledge, this string quartet cycle not been done professionally in Los Angeles for 10 years,” he said. “They are seminal works of Western classical music and it will include other pieces that relate to Beethoven.”
Dance performers include YouTube phenom Lil Buck as part of the Sunset Dance series, while New Orleans and Mardi Gras legend Aaron Neville leads his quintet in the Westside Jazz series.
Theater offerings look pretty exciting, with the return of Cape Town’s Isango Ensemble presenting an African-inspired take on Bizet with “Carmen.” Actress Lisa Dwan shines in a trio of Irish playwright Samuel Beckett’s plays, while the Headlong Theatre Company of London presents the U.S. premiere of their critically acclaimed stage adaptation of George Orwell’s famous dystopian novel, “1984.”
Heskel said the Broad’s staging of “1984” will be the American premier for the production.
“It’s just an amazing piece of theater,” he said of the multimedia production. “It hits you from all senses, it’s exciting and unlike anything I’ve seen here before. It will be the centerpiece of the season and is here for five weeks starting in January.”
He said “1984” highlights the Broad’s educational, as well as its artistic, goals. Santa Monica College is incorporating the text into its classes and the Broad will capitalize on the prevalence of the text in schools as an educational outreach opportunity.
While Heskel oversees many aspects of the Broad, he said the educational opportunities are what stand out for him.
“My favorite part about this job is when I look at the faces of 10,000 kids, which will become 20,000 this year with our expansion, when they come to the Broad Stage for the first time and see their first live performance,” he said. “That is one of the most import things we bring to the community is the opportunity for students to experience the performing arts with world class artists.”
Heskel said the Broad is bringing the Isango Ensemble back following last season’s staging of “The Magic Flute” and he is anticipating another thought-provoking performance this year.
“Carmen is the essence of opera and to do it from a different point of view is exciting,” he said.
Six-foot tall torch singer Storm Large, of Pink Martini, and her band Le Bonheur will enchant audiences with her unique cabaret act, while Roseanne Cash takes the audience along for a soulful journey through the South.
World music fans will also enjoy the likes of Colin Hay (formerly of Men at Work), Israeli star David Broza with an evening of Middle Eastern music, breakthrough artists Banda Magda and the high energy Russian folk band Debauche.
Bring the whole family for circus-like performances from The Box Brothers and Australia’s Circa with Carnival of the Animals. And you’re never too old to marvel at real-life adventures produced by NatGeo, featuring close ups of underwater explorations, wildlife experiences, a look at the lost giant Spinosaurus, plus The Hidden Life of Wolves.
Subscription and series packages, individual tickets and memberships offering additional privileges such as best-seat selection and the opening night gala are available. Find out more at www.thebroadstage.com or call (310) 434-3412.