What if the Manship Theatre’s stage told its story at the end of the 2011-2012 season?
There would be the story of how it served as the setting for Olympia Dukakis’ character Rose and the one about how it rocked with George Clinton.
Then there would be the recounting of how Savion Glover tapped on its surface. Yes, Savion Glover, said to be the greatest tap dancer alive, maybe even the greatest of all time.
“And I have to selfishly admit that I’m most excited about him,” Renee Chatelain said.
She can’t help it. It’s not that she doesn’t anticipate the shows coming to the Manship Theatre. She does. But the dancer in her can’t help being just a little giddy about Glover’s appearance.
“This is a real coup for us,” Chatelain said. “He’s probably the best tap dancer in the world, and it’s going to be an honor to have him on our stage.”
Chatelain is director of the Manship Theatre, and she can’t help smiling at this moment. The season is in place, and the roster of acts, shows and events is impressive. The work doesn’t stop here, however.
Chatelain made it her mission to make the Manship Theatre a community space when she was named director in 2010. She and other theater staff began scheduling school programming in connection with some of the shows.
The theater also reached out to different parts of the community, even transporting single mothers to a performance by legendary gospel singer Mavis Staples and opening its facilities to an after-work wellness series.
Now she’s building on that foundation, because there’s more to be learned from a play than from just attending a performance. What better way to learn about flamenco than having a dancer teach it to you?
Which is exactly what will happen this season when London’s Aquila Theatre comes to town in November. The company will perform Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Ernest on Nov. 13, then stick around for a performance of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth on Nov. 14.
The catch is the Macbeth performance will be for schoolchildren only, and they will see this production after weeks of instruction from members of the LSU Department of Theatre’s Master of Fine Arts program. The theater students will be visiting with students in a selected school, talking to them about the wonders of Shakespeare’s work and performing pieces of his work. This fall partnership will end with the Aquila Theatre’s school performance of Macbeth.
In 2012, members of Flamenco Vivo will be working with students in a selected school prior to its performance on Feb. 7. This may be some students’ introduction to theater or dance.
“Sometimes, people are hesitant to attend a dance performance or to go to the theater,” Chatelain said. “But if these students can see and talk to some of these performers and learn about their productions, they may not hesitate going to the theater later.”
Other community programs include the YWCA’s Dialogue on Race and yoga classes.
But it’s the lineup of headliners that sets the stage for the 2011-12 season. No pun intended. Or maybe it is intended, because the headliners offer a variety of performances, all adding their stories to the Manship stage’s history.
Think of the story the stage could tell of this season, for its headliner season begins with a performance by Rock and Roll Hall of Famer George Clinton.
That will be followed by Academy Award-winning actress Olympia Dukakis performing her Broadway triumph Rose, her one-woman show in which a Jewish octogenarian peers back on the events of her life, including her escape from the Nazis.
Aaron Neville again will deliver a holiday performance, this year on Nov. 27, and in the new year, folk singer Arlo Guthrie will sing his celebrated songs “Alice’s Restaurant” and “City of New Orleans” on March 1 and 2.
The Ahn Trio will perform chamber music on April 27. The trio comes to the Manship from Seoul, Korea, by way of the Juilliard School in New York and thrives on dissolving barriers between art forms by fusing their work with that of dancers, singers and DJs.
Finally, there’s Savion Glover. He and his dancers will perform Bare Soundz on April 3, tapping without accompaniment in a tribute to the electric rhythms of flamenco, jazz and Caribbean music.
“I can’t wait to see him in the Manship’s space,” Chatelain said. “The level of his artistry is at the top, and it really is such a coup that he’s here.”
It doesn’t stop there.
Premiere jazz bassist Rufus Reid will bring a show especially customized for Baton Rouge to the Manship on Feb. 28-29.
Reid was born in Atlanta and lives in New Jersey. He was inspired to write a jazz piece after spotting a sculpture of Louis Armstrong by Elizabeth Catlett outside the Mahalia Jackson Theatre for the Performing Arts after a performance in New Orleans.
Catlett is an African-American sculptor who moved to Cuernavaca, Mexico, after marrying Mexican artist Francisco Mora in 1947. Her sculptures are on display throughout the world.
Reid will be joined by the LSU Faculty Jazz Trio in the premiere of this piece in the Manship Theatre. Add to that the LSU Museum of Art’s coinciding exhibit of Catlett’s work, and the performance becomes something more - it becomes an event.
“Elizabeth Catlett will be here for the exhibit and premiere, too,” Chatelain said. “She’s 96 years old now. We are so excited to be partnering with the LSU Museum of Art and LSU’s Jazz Faculty Trio on this. And we’re excited about the chance to have Elizabeth Catlett here.”
Dr. Kaboom! will return to open the Manship’s Family Series in October. Also included in that series is Kennedy Center Theater for Young Audiences’ production of Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical, on Oct. 30. This show is based on the Caldecott Award-winning children’s book.
Playmakers of Baton Rouge will perform Live From Club Dead Oct. 13-16, and the production I Have a Dream, which traces the life and experiences of Dr. Martin Luther King, will take the stage on Feb. 12.
For those who may crave more of John Waters’ campy humor after attending one of Baton Rouge Little Theater’s performances of its summer musical Hairspray!, there’s good news for you. Not to mention good news for fans of Waters’ movies, including his original version of Hairspray.
Waters will perform his one-man show, A John Waters Christmas, on Dec. 3.
“We are planning an AIDS awareness program to coincide with John Waters’ visit,” Chatelain said. “There are so many things we can do in connection with these performances, and it allows us to reach out more to the community.”
In the end, all of these performances will be tied together by the Manship Theatre, home to musical acts, as well as children’s programming, theatrical performances and film screenings.
And world-class tap dancing.
Think of the story this stage could tell.
MANSHIP THEATRE’S 2011-2012 SCHEDULE
•8 p.m. Sept. 9, George Clinton. Tickets are $100 for the show only, $150 for the show and party.
•7:30 p.m. Sept. 19-20, Olympia Dukakis as Rose. Tickets are $60-$90.
•7 p.m. Nov. 27, Christmas with Aaron Neville and His Quintet, featuring Charles Neville. Tickets are $85-$100.
•7:30 p.m. March 2, 2012; 8 p.m. March 3, 2012, Arlo Guthrie. Tickets are $75 and $90.
•7:30 p.m. April 27, 2012, Ahn Trio. Tickets are $45-$60.
•7:30 p.m. April 3, 2012, Savion Glover. Tickets are $65-$85.
•7:30 p.m. Nov. 18, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. Tickets are $50.
•7 p.m. and 9 p.m. Nov. 29, Daily and Vincent: A Bluegrass Holiday Show. Tickets are $35 and $45.
•7:30 p.m. Jan. 19, 2012, Junior Brown. Tickets are $25 and $40.
•7:30 p.m. Jan. 27, 2012, Punch Brothers with Loudon Wainwright. Tickets are $65 and $80.
•7:30 p.m. March 7, 2012, Country Royalty. Tickets are $30 and $40.
•7:30 p.m. March 19, 2012, Kathy Mattea. Tickets are $40 and $55.
•7:30 p.m. April 12, 2012, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. Tickets are $40 and $55.
•2 p.m. Oct. 2, Dr. Kaboom!. Tickets are $20.
•7 p.m. Oct. 13-14, 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Oct. 15-16, Playmakers of Baton Rouge presents Live From Club Dead. Tickets are $20.
•2 p.m. Oct. 30, Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical. Tickets are $20.
•2 p.m. Jan. 29, 2012, Virtually Me. Tickets are $20.
•2 p.m. Feb. 12, 2012, I Have a Dream. Tickets are $20.
•2 p.m. March 28, 2012, The Little Engine That Could. Tickets are $20.
•8 p.m. Oct. 15, Dawes & Blittzen Trapper. Tickets are $35.
•7:30 p.m. Oct. 17, Bettye Lavette. Tickets are $50 and $65.
•7:30 p.m. Oct. 21, Natalie MacMaster & Donnell Leahy: Masters of the Fiddle. Tickets are $35 and $50.
•8 p.m. Nov. 4, Dengue Fever. Tickets are $30.
•7:30 p.m. April 27, 2012, Ahn Trio. Tickets are $45-$60.
•8 p.m. May 4, 2012, Soul Salvation: Paul Thorn & Ruthie Foster. Tickets are $40 and $55.
•7:30 p.m. Sept. 19-20, Olympia Dukakis as Rose. Tickets are $60 and $75.
•7:30 p.m. Sept. 26, 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Sept. 27, Brian Posehn. Tickets are $45.
•2 p.m. Nov. 13, the Aquila Theatre’s production of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Ernest. Tickets are $40.
•10:30 a.m. Nov. 14, the Aquila Theatre’s school performance of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth.
•8 p.m. Dec. 3, film director and author John Waters in A John Waters Christmas. Tickets are $50.
•8 p.m. Feb. 24-25, 2012, 2 p.m. Feb. 26, 2012, Queen of Bingo. Tickets are $25.
•7:30 p.m. Feb. 12, 2012, Hot & Brass Band. Tickets are $30.
•8 p.m. April 14, 2012, Hot Club of San Francisco. Tickets are $30 and $45.
•7:30 p.m. Feb. 28-29, 2012, Rufus Reid. Tickets are $65-$75.
•River City Jazz Masters Series: 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. Sept. 21, McCoy Tyner Quartet; Oct. 15, John Pizzarelli; Oct. 20, Joe Lovano US5; Jan. 12, 2012, Diane Schuur; April 26, 2012, Terence Blanchard & Poncho Sanchez; May 17, 2012, Patti Austin. Tickets are $25 and $45.
•Oct. 24, Of Moving Colors’ Sequin. Tickets are $15. Time to be announced.
•7:30 p.m. Nov. 16, Bad Boys of Dance. Tickets are $45-$75.
•2 p.m. Dec. 3-4, Cangelosi Dance Project’s Holiday Mix. Tickets are $10-$25.
•Jan. 13-15, 2012, Of Moving Colors’ Kick it Out!. Tickets are $15-$35. Times to be announced.
•7:30 p.m. Feb. 7, 2012, Flamenco Vivo with Carlotta Santana. Tickets are $45.
•7:30 p.m. April 3, 2012, Savion Glover. Tickets are $60 and $75.
•April 20-22, 2012, Of Moving Colors’ Pink!. Tickets are $15-$35. Times to be announced.
In the Hartley-Vey Theatre
•Sept. 3, Herman Jackson and His Big Band. Tickets are $20. Time to be announced.
•7:30 p.m. Sept. 21, Phil Vasser. Tickets are $15-$35.
•The Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge’s 2011-12 Listening Room Series: 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. Nov. 15, Charlie Hunter; Dec. 15, Hilary Kole; Feb. 23, 2012, Robert Glasper; March 23, 2012, Tineke Postma; April 13, 2012, Walter Blanding Jr.; April 25, 2012, Vanessa Rubin; May 4, 2012, The Bad Plus. Admission is free, but reservations are recommended.
Films at Manship
•The theater hosts several series, including Reel Causes, which benefit social, charitable or humanitarian causes; Independent Films; and Homegrown Films, featuring films with a Louisiana connection.
•Flicks for Chicks, focusing on love and romance: 2 p.m. Sept. 25, When Harry Met Sally; 2 p.m. Dec. 11, Moulin Rouge. Admission is $10 for each.
•Camp Out at Manship, focusing on campy films: 10 p.m. Oct. 27, The Rocky Horror Picture Show; 8 p.m. Nov. 11, Cry Baby. Admission is $10 for each.
•Family Films: 2 p.m. Dec. 18, The Wiz. Admission is $10.
Other film events are:
•Sept. 30, Manhattan Short Film Festival.
•Dec. 30, Louisiana Film Festival.
•Jan. 21-24, 2012, Baton Rouge Jewish Film Festival.
•March 9, 2012, French Film Festival.
•July 28, 2012, Irish Film Festival.
For tickets or more information, call (225) 344-0334 or visit http://www.manshiptheatre.org.