Hancher Announces Season

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Iowa City – The new Hancher Auditorium is nearing completion after the 2008 flood destroyed the previous landmark performance venue. Today they announced their first season in the new space. In addition to a new version of The Nutcracker with the Joffrey Ballet (which you can read about here), they’re bringing three Broadway musicals to stage and an eclectic mix of other exciting performances.

To celebrate the opening of the new auditorium, Hancher is offering a number of fun events. You can tour the building on September 9 and 11.On Friday, September 16, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue will play a free concert outdoors on the Hancher Green to celebrate the opening of the facility. The Preservation Hall Jazz Band was the first touring act to play on the original Hancher stage in 1972.

And then they’ll kick it off with an opening gala on Saturday, September 24, which will feature comedy legends Steve Martin and Martin Short as well as Martin’s band, the Steep Canyon Rangers.

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The Broadway musicals for 2016-17 are a perfect mix of classic and new. The winner of nine Tony Awards, The Book of Mormon will play a limited six-day, eight-performance engagement October 11 through 16 at Hancher Auditorium. The Book of Mormon is a wickedly funny musical by the creators of the TV show, South Park. To kick off 2017, a brand new production of The Sound of Music, directed by three-time Tony Award winner Jack O’Brien, will play a seven-performance engagement January 31 through February 5. Perfect for families, this classic show features all of your favorite things… er songs…such as Do-Re-Mi, Climb Ev’ry Mountain, Edelweiss, and, of course, My Favorite Things. Finally, Mamma Mia!, featuring the music of ABBA and on its final tour, will play the auditorium February 25 and 26 for three performances.

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photo by Matthew Murphy

OThe season includes some of the biggest names in classical music including soprano Renée Fleming, pianist Emanuel Ax (who helped select Hancher’s new Steinway and Sons Concert Grand Piano), The Cleveland Orchestra, the Ying Quartet with pianist Billy Childs, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, and the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra.

The centerpiece of the opening season in the new Hancher Auditorium is the presentation of five preview performances of the Joffrey Ballet’s new rendition of The Nutcracker, featuring choreography by Christopher Wheeldon and a revised story and new art by Brian Selznick. Hancher commissioned and presented the world premiere of the original Joffrey Nutcracker, and is a producing sponsor of the new production. The preview performances will be presented December 1 through 4.

Other Hancher commissions include The Migration: Reflections of Jacob Lawrence by the dance company Step Afrika!; The Day by University of Iowa alumnus and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang for cellist Maya Beiser; Pomp, Brass, and Lunacy! featuring Tomáš Kubínek with Orchestra Iowa, University Choirs, and trombonist Wycliffe Gordon; and a new work by Samuel Carl Adams to be performed by Emanuel Ax.

Five events will be presented in Strauss Hall, a flexible and intimate space in the new facility. Two Club Hancher events—one featuring bluegrass and country artist Laurie Lewis and the Right Hands and the other featuring jazz ensemble the Fred Hersch Trio—will be held in Strauss Hall. Other Strauss Hall events include the Puppet State Theatre Company of Scotland’s The Man Who Planted Trees; the innovative dance work Soil, co-created by UI faculty member Michael Sakamoto; and Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq in concert with the groundbreaking but troubling film Nanook of the North.

Saxophonist David Sanborn, who attended the University of Iowa in the early days of the jazz program, will return with his Electric Band. Current and former members of the UI jazz bands, including some who played with Sanborn at the university, will perform during a portion of the concert.

Additional musical performances on the schedule include the Chucho Valdés Joe Lovano Quintet, Asleep at the Wheel performing Merry Texas Christmas Y’all, and Las Cafeteras.

Jessica Lang Dance will perform a program that includes Tesseracts of Time, a piece developed in collaboration with architect Steven Holl. Holl has designed two buildings—Art Building West and the Visuals Arts Building—on the University of Iowa campus.

Three multidisciplinary artists with a deep interest in social justice issues are on the Hancher schedule including the dance company Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion, Circus Oz from Australia, and Marc Bamuthi Joseph and his show entitled /peh-LO-tah/, which explores soccer as both a positive and negative force around the globe.

Hancher has announced that it will collaborate with the annual Mission Creek Festival to present artists as yet to be named. Also, in collaboration with the University of Iowa’s Graduate College, Hancher will present a lecture by current Secretary of the Smithsonian—and former UI President—David Skorton.

On Thursdays throughout the season, beginning on October 6, the Stanley Café in Hancher Auditorium will be open to the public from 5-7:30 pm. These casual events will occur whether or not there is a performance that evening. Appetizers and beverages will be available for purchase.

Hancher will present four Culinary Arts Events throughout the season featuring unique menus from Pullman Bar & Diner, Atlas Restaurant and Bar/Basta Pizzeria Ristorante, Oasis—The Falafel Joint, and Share. Tickets to the culinary events must be purchased in advance.

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