Tanya Gertz has been Executive Director of Fine Arts Programming at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University for six years. At this time, she has never been more excited about a performing arts program than the one planned for 2022-23.
“They’re all major artists,” she said. “Each show is a firework display in itself and I’m sure audiences will leave the theater feeling like they’ve been part of something special. This is going to be a season where hopefully everyone will see something special. thing on the list of performances they just can’t miss. They’re world class artists and you can see them right here in central Minnesota.
Tickets are on sale now and are available at a reduced price until September 23. First event features three-time Grammy winner Soweto Gospel Choir October 14 at the Stephen B. Humphrey Theater in Saint John’s. Their performance, titled “Hope, It’s Been a Long Time Coming,” will commemorate the freedom movement in South Africa and the civil rights movement in the United States. The 20-member band, which takes its name from and hails from South West Township, a town outside of Johannesburg, South Africa, will sing renditions of works by Billie Holliday, James Brown, Otis Redding, Curtis Mayfield and Aretha Franklin.
The Soweto Gospel Choir formed in 2002, when their debut album reached No. 1 on the Billboard World Music Chart. In 2007, the singers won a Grammy for Best Traditional Music in the World with their second CD, “Blessed.” They won a second Grammy for their third album, “African Spirit,” and followed that up with another for Best Contemporary World Music for “Live at the Nelson Mandela Theater.”
“The title of their performance – ‘Hope, It’s Been a Long Time Coming’ – is the best I can imagine to kick off the program,” said Gertz, who has seen many events interrupted and changed or even canceled outright during the COVID-19 pandemic over the past two years. “It will be a great way to bounce back. We are thrilled to once again share the magic of live performance with our audience and it will be a joyful performance to start the season. It will be an experience you can feel.
The series continues on October 29 with an appearance by Jörgen Ballet of Canadaperform Anne of Green Gables at the Escher Auditorium in Saint Ben’s. This playful and entirely staged ballet of stories will transport the public to the beginning of the 20e century in Atlantic Canada and brings to life the 1908 novel by LM Montgomery.
On November 5, the spotlight returns to the Humphrey Theater for Pride and Prejudicemade by the Aquila Theater Company. The troupe, which formed in 1991 and is based in New York, will use inventive sets and add modern influences to by Jane Austen 1813 romantic comedy that blurs the hypocrisy and absurdity of the class system.
Another Grammy nominated group, Free time, plays at the Humphrey Theater on November 11. Miami-based ensemble with classical training in Cuba’s top conservatories, Tiempo Libre performs timba, a blend of jazz harmonies and Latin rhythms. Its seven members have appeared on The Tonight Show and Dancing With the Stars. Their concerts are assimilated to evenings where the public has a hard time not wanting to dance in the armchairs.
Each campus will host a holiday show in early December. A SJU, violinist Mark O’Connor will perform”An Appalachian Christmas” on December 8. And on December 10, Lightwire Theater will present two performances ofA very electric Christmas.”
O’Connor, accompanied by his wife and adult son – both award-winning instrumentalists, will perform a combination of jazz, bluegrass and classical music. His music album of the same name reached No. 1 on the Billboard bluegrass chart in 2011.
“A Very Electric Christmas” is an innovative show that combines vibrant, luminescent lighting, dancing, and puppets to tell the story of a stray bird named Max who ends up at the North Pole for Christmas. Dancing toy soldiers, singing verses and dancing poinsettias light up the stage in this magical tale of family, friendship and hope for timeless holiday hits. Lightwire Theater is internationally recognized for its electroluminescent art and poignant wordless storytelling.
The Versa-Style Dance Company will perform on February 4 at the Escher Auditorium of Collège Saint-Benoît. The group, originally from Los Angeles, celebrates the essence and power of hip-hop. The show will explore the limitless possibilities of improvised street dancing.
If you need energy in the middle of winter, the Versa Style Dance Company will provide a major recharge on February 4 at the Escher Auditorium. Founded in 2005 by two Los Angeles natives, the group of around 10 dancers celebrates the limitless possibilities of hip-hop – including Afro-Latin styles such as salsa, merengue and cumbia. Their latest show will explore improvisational street dancing.
On February 18 at Saint Ben’s, Circus Mechanics will celebrate the power of the wind in its new production, Zephyr. This professional traveling circus company will use human-powered devices to combine storytelling and high-level acrobatics. The company’s last visit to campus sold out quickly, so tickets will be invaluable for this high-energy show where performers will fly, balance, float through the air and defy gravity.
The a cappella group Voctave, 11 powerhouse singers from Central Florida, will combine gospel, contemporary Christian, barbershop, pop and choral song at “The Corner of Broadway & Main Street,” Feb. 24 at CSB. The group’s video performances have racked up over 150 million views on social media.
Memoirs of a Minnesota Writer Kao Kalia Yang will come to life on March 16 and 17 at Saint Ben’s when From literature to life present The latecomer. Yang, who came to the United States as a Hmong refugee from Thailand, shared the story of her journey and the themes of home, family, opportunity, acceptance and obligation. . The story will be told by Gaosong Heu, who earned a bachelor’s degree in theater from the University of Minnesota and worked for New York’s Vineyard Theater and Minnesota Opera. She will be the only actress, interpreting all the characters.
Humor will be in the spotlight on March 25 at the Humphrey Theater with One man Avengers. charlie ross will portray Iron Man, Captain America, the Incredible Hulk, Thor, Thanos and Black Widow in a hilarious parody. Ross, who hails from Prince George, British Columbia, and has been performing around the world for 20 years, has previously produced shows such as One Man Star Wars and One Man Lord of the Rings.
Finally, a number that sold out at Carnegie Hall in New York, at the Royal Albert Hall in London and at the Sydney Opera House in Australia, will aim to do the same on April 14 at the Escher Auditorium. The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain sold out the Humphrey Theater when they last visited in 2018, and will now bring their spirit and passion for their little guitars to a bigger venue in Saint Ben’s. Spectators are welcome to bring their own ukuleles and participate in choreography during the show.
“It’s going to be the most amazingly delicious show you didn’t know you were going to see,” Gertz predicted. “Once we opened sales for this season, the first tickets we sold were to see the Ukulele Orchestra. They only do a short tour every 2-3 years and bringing them back has been on hold since the pre-COVID days. This will be something you don’t want to miss.
“This season was intentionally designed to create amazing date nights, special family memories, or a trip around the world. This is a year with lots of ooohs and aaahs and lots of joy!”
Call the Benedicta Arts Center box office at 320-363-5777 or order online at www.csbsju.edu/expect.
These activities are made possible in part by Minnesota voters through a Minnesota State Arts Council operational support grant, thanks to a legislative endowment from the arts and cultural heritage fund.