Smile Politely

The first days of February at the Krannert Center

As the early days of February loom on your scheduling horizon, a look at the riches available at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts may put you in the mood to consider a trip or two to that splendid venue.

The first three days of February offer a world class soloist, a much neglected Sondheim musical and a concert from the Champaign-Urbana Symphony to begin the month.

On February 1st,  violinist Joshua Bell returns to the Foellinger Great Hall. This native of Bloomington, Indiana, and an Indiana University graduate is enjoying the peak of a 30 year career with no end in sight. His discography of over 40 CDs, includes a recording he did at 18, five Grammy nominations, and one Grammy award.

A spot on Joshua Bell’s concert tour is special as he now has considerable duties in Great Britain as Music Director of the Academy of St. Martin’s in the Fields, a position he has held since 2011. His promised performances on February 1st include works by Mozart, Richard Strauss and Schubert. He will perform with pianist Sam Haywood and promises more concert pieces for that special evening.

Opening that same evening, but with continuing performances on weekends until February 11th, is the Illinois Theatre production of Stephen Sondheim’s Assassins. This is a show that has taken a long road to public acceptance since it opened Off-Broadway in 1990. Despite getting some good reviews and basking in Sondheim’s sterling reputation as a master of musicals, it only ran for 73 performances and found no producer willing to take it to Broadway. After all, a musical about Presidential assassins seemed a bit too extreme—no matter how clever.

Taking the long road back by way of regional productions and even community theater, such as the excellent production Urbana’s Station Theatre gave it years ago, interest in the musical was maintained. In 2004, Assassins had its first Broadway production. Fourteen years after its New York opening, its return to Gotham was a sensation. This production won five Tony Awards, including Best Revival of a Musical.

Director J. W. Morrissette and music director Justin Brauer will bring this edgy musical to the space at Krannert’s Studio Theatre. Space is limited and some performances are already sold out, so if you’re planning on attending, try to purchase your tickets soon. 

Don’t cross those early days of February off your schedule yet! On February 3rd, the Champaign-Urbana Symphony will present, “Baroque Brilliance.”  Music Director Stephen Alltop brings in violin soloist Zachary Carrettin for a live performance of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Also on the bill are Handel’s Concerto Grosso from Alexander’s Feast and Bach’s Orchestral Suite, Number 1 in C Major.

Click here for more information or tickets for each of these events. 

Photos from Krannert website. 

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