Performing arts centers around LI
Summer ends tomorrow. So let's anticipate the soon-to-be-dominant indoor cultural scene, led by Long Island's top multidiscipline performing arts centers: Staller, Tilles and the newcomer, Madison Theatre.
Stony Brook University
INFO stallercenter.com, 631-632-2787
Observing its 25th anniversary under that name -- the Staller family remains a major benefactor -- the Stony Brook University arts center launches its season with Pulitzer-winning David Lindsay-Abaire's "Kimberly Akimbo" in its cozy black-box theater this weekend and next. "We prefer the smaller venue when we do drama," says Staller director Alan Inkles. "A big musical, like 'The Addams Family,' works well for the main stage. But you need intimacy for a play like this." The title character, Kimberly, is a girl with a genetic disorder that causes the aging process to accelerate. Her dysfunctional family forces her to mature faster, too.
A national tour of the aforementioned "Addams Family" plays for one night, Oct. 27. An early classical music highlight is the debut at Stony Brook of Paul Watkins, the new cellist for the Emerson String Quartet, the university's nine-time Grammy-winning resident ensemble. The recital, with works by Haydn, Beethoven and Britten -- it's the latter's birth centennial -- is Oct.17.
But big names dominate this new season. "It's not easy getting A-list celebrities to play a 1,000-seat space," says Inkles. "But for the Stallers' 25th anniversary as our namesake, we really pushed to raise more money." Erwin Staller and his wife, Freddie, who in 1988 funded the arts center in memory of his parents, Max and Mary, stepped up their giving. Staller Center also benefited from a matching challenge grant by Jim Simons of Renaissance Technologies.
As a result, Inkles could afford to book author-monologuist David Sedaris, Oct. 20; violin virtuoso Midori, Nov. 10; Mark Morris Dance, Nov. 16; five-time Tony winner Audra McDonald, Nov. 23; Wynton Marsalis and his Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, Dec. 15, and Bill Cosby for the March 8 gala.
LIU Post, Brookville
INFO tillescenter.org, 516-299-3100
With 2,000 seats to fill, Tilles director Elliot Sroka is accustomed to booking A-listers. This year is no exception, beginning with jazz chanteuse Diana Krall making her Tilles debut at the Oct. 5 gala, which, for the first time, also is opening night of the season. Renée Fleming, America's leading lyric soprano making her Long Island debut, bookends the Tilles season in the other major fundraiser, the March 1 endowment concert.
The 75th anniversary of Benny Goodman Orchestra's first Carnegie Hall appearance -- "the concert that made jazz legit," Sroka reminds us -- is celebrated at Tilles Oct. 12 with Bucky Pizzarelli and Ken Peplowski. Savion Glover's stair-dancing "StepZ" makes its L.I. premiere Oct. 25. Hal Holbrook is "Mark Twain Tonight!" once again Dec.7, followed the next night by a farewell to Glenn Dicterow, retiring after 32 years as New York Philharmonic concertmaster. (The Philharmonic plays Tilles Jan. 4.)
Among the offbeat attractions: "Banjo Summit" with Béla Fleck Oct. 11, "The Hungry Hungry Games" parody of "The Hunger Games" series Oct. 19, and comic virtuosity by the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain Nov. 9.
Dicapo Opera Theatre performs Verdi's "Rigoletto" Nov. 23 and Puccini's "Madama Butterfly" April 11. But Green Day's rock opera, "American Idiot," will make the biggest noise in two Feb. 16 shows. Broadway's "Memphis" plays a one-night stand Jan. 31.
INFO madisontheatreny.org, 516-323-4444
Bernadette Peters sings the best of Broadway in the Molloy College center's Nov. 8 gala. The two-time Tony winner ("Song and Dance," "Annie Get Your Gun") headlines a season that includes another Tony winner, Lillias White ("The Life"), performing "My Guy Cy," the music of Cy Coleman Nov. 3.
Saturday night, Paul Taylor Dance makes its only Long Island appearance this season. "Celebrity Autobiography" returns Oct. 4, the playfully classical Intersection Trio Oct. 20, "Hair" Jan. 23-25 and Improvised Shakespeare Feb. 14.