The new season for the Marshall Artists Series has been announced, and it's shaping up to be another great one, with some outstanding touring shows, concerts and comedians on the way.
Theatre fans will be especially glad to hear about upcoming stage shows, including Spring Awakening, A Chorus Line, The Color Purple, Stomp and a performance by Liza Minelli!
Here's the story by my pal Dave Lavender:
For a 74-year-old, the Marshall Artists Series sure knows how to get its diverse party on.
One of the country's longest-running college-based artists series has announced its 2010-2011 season, and whether you're into big musicals, classic rock, a legendary diva, cutting-edge comedy, a dozen award-winning films, or even video games, you're covered.
Season tickets go on sale at 9 a.m. Tuesday, July 20, and season-ticket holders have until Aug. 5 to renew their season tickets.
Single tickets will go on sale, Monday, Aug. 16.
As in years past, the Artists Series, which is booked by executive director Penny Watkins, with input from the board of directors, is as deep on big Broadway shows (A Chorus Line, The Color Purple and Spring Awakening) as it is wide in its diversity.
Just a few of the eclectic shows include: the edgy and interactive, Video Games Live, The Doobie Brothers, Latin Grammy-Award winning pianist Pablo Ziegler Trio and young Comedy Central star comic Daniel Tosh.
While the season usually doesn't get under way until October, this year, the Artists Series kicks off on the massive Marshall versus West Virginia University football weekend.
And the Artists Series, which has brought in such legends as Bill Cosby, Martin Short and Willie Nelson, goes large out of the gate.
After the state's two largest universities lock horns on the gridiron on Friday, Sept. 10, the Artists Series sweeps the excess testosterone away by starting off its season at 7 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 12 with the Tony, Oscar, Grammy and Emmy award-winning superstar, Liza Minnelli, who performs at the historic Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center, 925 4th Ave., with a sextet led by her long-time collaborator Billy Stritch.
"It's going to be a huge weekend with Marshall and WVU, so this gives people one more big thing to do that weekend," said Angela Jones, director of marketing and external affairs for the Marshall Artists Series. "You can go to the brawl and then go see the doll."
Per request of its patrons, one of the slight changes this year in the Artists Series is that most of the shows -- except for The Color Purple -- have been moved up from 8 p.m. start times to either 7 or 7:30 p.m.
"The average Broadway show can go 21/2 hours so a lot of patrons wanted earlier start times, and so wherever it was feasible we've went with earlier times," Jones said.
One big highlight of the fall semester lineup is that after two big comedy shows the past two years with Jim Gaffigan and Mike Birbigia, the Artists Series has reeled in another one of the hot, young Comedy Central stars, Daniel Tosh, who will be playing the Big Sandy Superstore Arena on Tuesday, Oct. 19.
Tosh made the news earlier this week when his Comedy Central show, "Tosh.0," which has been described as a "Talk Soup for the Internet," beat out big-time fellow comedians Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert's shows in the ratings.
Tosh's show has been renewed for a third season, and Tosh, who has been doing 30-minute comedy specials on Comedy Central since 2003, will be on tour this fall on a Comedy Central-sponsored tour.
The same week Tosh is here, the Artists Series is teaming up with MU's celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month by bringing in Latin Grammy Award-winning pianist Pablo Ziegler Trio, which blends up jazz and tango music called nuevo tango.
That show is set for Friday, Oct. 15 at the Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center on campus.
Known for always putting a twist on holiday shows whether its Celtic-splashed or jazzed up with the Rat Pack, the Artist Series has scored a unique holiday show in welcoming in Huntington native, Broadway star Mark McVey, with his long-time musical partner, the legendary composer Marvin Hamlisch.
While the two have toured the world together off and on for years, this Dec. 6 date, "Celebrate the Holidays with Marvin Hamlisch and Mark McVey at the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center will be their first show here together in McVey's hometown.
Interestingly while Hamlisch is in the city, the Artists Series is taking full advantage of the composer, who has won virtually every major award that exists: Three Oscars, four Grammys, four Emmys, a Tony and three Golden Globe awards.
On that Monday, at a time still to be announced Hamlisch will talk about composing the show, A Chorus Line, for which he received the Pulitzer Prize.
A Chorus Line will be performed at the Keith on Feb. 24 as part of the Artist Series.
It's one of a handful of cool musicals coming to the Keith.
The coming of age rock musical, Spring Awakening, winner of eight Tony awards including "Best Musical," and a show written by pop rock artist Duncan Sheik, will be here March 29.
The Color Purple, the soul-stirring musical based on Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel and Steven Spielberg's moving film, will be here April 1.
A new version of the cutting-edge found percussion show, Stomp will be here Jan. 11-12 at the Joan, and one of shows Jones is most excited about, Video Games Live, takes place Feb. 3 at the Keith-Albee.
"If you remember the Bugs Bunny symphony show, this is like its younger, cooler brother," Jones said. "Like Prince Harry to Prince William."
Armed with a 28-piece orchestra featuring electronic percussionists, video footage and unique interactive segments, the show brings to life some of the most popular video games in history including Mario, Zelda, Sonic, Halo, Final Fantasy and many more.
Jones said before the show people will be able to play such games as Guitar Hero in the lobby as well as talk with some video game developers who travel with the family-friendly show.
"This is going to be a cool way to introduce musicals to an entirely new audience," Jones said.
Jones, who helps choose and book the dozen movies for the Fall and Spring International Film Festivals, said while they scaled back the film fests to a weekend this past year to save money, they've ramped those fests back up to a full week in the 2010-2011 season.
The fall fest runs Oct. 1-7, showing films from Colombia, France, Italy, Sweden, UK and Vietnam.
The spring fest, set for March 3-9, features films from Japan, the U.S., Sweden, Italy and Argentina.
"When we cut the film festival back we did save money because of staffing, and we still had a lot of people coming but those who came said they really had to cherry pick because we all have lives and they were upset they didn't get to see some of the films," Jones said. "With a week, it gives more people a chance to see the films they want to see."
Let The Artists Series Begin:
Here's a look at the highlights of the 74th Season of the Marshall Artists Series:
Liza Minnelli -- 7 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 12, at the Keith Albee Performing Arts Center.
Celebrate the Holidays with Marvin Hamlisch and Mark McVey -- 7:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 6, at the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center.
A Chorus Line -- 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 24, at the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center.
Additionally, enjoy Marvin Hamlisch's chat about the development of A Chorus Line (for which received the Pulitzer Prize) on Monday Dec. 6, Chat time TBD.
The Color Purple -- 8 p.m. Friday, April 1, at the Keith Albee Performing Arts Center.
The Doobie Brothers -- 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 16, at the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center.
Stomp -- 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, Jan. 11-12 at the Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center.
Video Games Live -- 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 3, at the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center. Video Games Live is a concert event spectacular featuring music from the most popular video games of all time including - Mario, Zelda, Halo, Tomb Raider and Guitar Hero among others.
Spring Awakening -- 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, March 29, at the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center.
Pablo Ziegler Trio - 7:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 15, at the Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center. Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month at Marshall University with Latin-Grammy award-winning pianist, Pablo Ziegle.
Daniel Tosh - 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 19, at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena.
The Fall and Spring International Film Festival: Oct. 1-7 at the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center and March 3-9 featuring six different films.
Superticket: Baxter, Mount plus choice between International Film Festival, Pablo Ziegler Trio and Daniel Tosh. Adult/Youth price - $578, $528, $430, $375 (price includes Keith-Albee restoration fee).
Baxter Series: Four events - Liza Minnelli, Marvin Hamlisch & Mark McVey Holiday Show, A Chorus Line & The Color Purple. Adult/Youth price - $316, $266, $210, $170 plus $10 Keith-Albee Restoration Fee.
Mount Series: Four events - The Doobie Brothers, Stomp, Video Games Live & Spring Awakening. Adult/Youth Price - $277, $227, $185, $170 plus $10 Keith-Albee Restoration Fee
International Film Festival (12 Films). Adult Price - $75 (price includes Keith-Albee Restoration Fee).
Two-Payment Plan: If you are interested in a two-payment plan, call 304-696-3313.
On Sale date: 9 a.m. Tuesday, July 20. Subscriptions may be ordered and current subscriptions may be renewed through the deadline date of Thursday, Aug. 5. After that day, all orders will be processed in order of date and time received.
Get tickets: Season tickets may be ordered via telephone by calling 304-696-3326. Orders may also be mailed in to Marshall Artists Series, One John Marshall Drive, Huntington, WV 25755-2210. Order may also be faxed to 304-696-6658. You may also e-mail with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Marshall Artists Series office is located in the Jomie Jazz Center on 5th Avenue across from Marshall University's Student Center. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Individual tickets: Go on sale Monday, Aug. 16.