Things to do

19 shows you shouldn’t miss in 2019

Courtesy of Charlotte Ballet
Peter Pan
Courtesy of Charlotte Ballet Peter Pan

Last year, a rhyming, rapping Founding Father took over Charlotte for a six-week reign, as the whole city caught Hamilton fever. And while Hamilton may be history, you’ll find plenty of colorful happenings this year — from Grey Gardens to Black Violin, the Charlotte Jewish Film Festival to a community reading of a controversial book — and they cover themes from growing old to never growing up.

After all, this could be the year you will be found. (That’s a reference to Dear Evan Hansen, the Broadway Lights musical that may be this year’s blockbuster.) Here are 19 of the events we’d be willing to wait in line for in 2019.


(1) Carmen

Opera Carolina

Jan. 19-20, Jan. 24

Fiery Carmen drinks, smokes, and always gets the man she wants. But her free spirit will ultimately prove her undoing. When she chooses bullfighter Escamillo over an insanely jealous Don Jose, her fate is sealed. But she’s hardly tragic. Even in death, Carmen is a timeless feminist heroine and the ideal icon for Opera Carolina’s “She Season.”

Belk Theater, 130 N. Tryon St. Tickets are $22-$157.

Carmen, courtesy Opera Carolina
Courtesy of Opera Carolina<br/>Carmen LOUISE LEBLANC

(2) Nina Simone: Four Women

Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte

Jan. 24-26, Jan. 30-31; Feb. 1-3, Feb. 6-10, Feb. 13-16

North Carolina native Nina Simone is known for her powerful renditions of standards from the American songbook. But the 1963 Birmingham, Ala., explosion that killed four African-American girls turned her into a protest singer, too. Simone began writing songs with a message. She composed “Four Women” in the aftermath of that terrorist act, and also wrote anthems such as “Old Jim Crow” and “To Be Young, Gifted and Black.”

Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte, Charles Hadley Playhouse at Queens University, 2132 Radcliffe Ave. Tickets are $17.50-$25.

(3) A Facility for Living

The Storefront Theatre

Jan. 26-27

“Storefront is a well-kept secret that needs to be talked about,” said Hank West, a longtime Charlotte actor. “It’s created by our very own local playwright Judy Simpson Cook, and she always gets the best actors to be a part of the readings.” There are no props or sets—just actors and your imagination. In this biting comedy, a retired actor moves into a prison-turned-nursing-home after the demise of Medicare and election of Dick Cheney as President. The inmates are intent on dismantling the dehumanizing system and reclaiming their dignity.

The Storefront Theatre, Waxhaw Presbyterian Church, 8100 Old Waxhaw Monroe Road. Tickets are $15.


(4) Grey Gardens: The Musical

Matthews Playhouse

Feb. 1-3, Feb. 8-10  

It’s like a train wreck you can’t look away from. The movie on which the musical is based follows Big Edie and Little Edie Bouvier Beale, the eccentric aunt and cousin of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, around their dilapidated Hamptons mansion. The duo had once been at the top of East Hampton’s social register. Now, they’re housebound recluses living in squalor in a once-glorious estate. Local theater legend Billy Ensley directs.

100 McDowell St. East, Matthews. Tickets are $19-$22.

(5) Charlotte Jewish Film Festival

Feb. 9-10, Feb. 13, Feb. 16-17, Feb. 20, Feb. 23-24, Feb. 27; March 2-3

This annual film festival grows bigger and better each year. On Feb. 10, don’t miss Heading Home: The Tale of Team Israel, the underdog story of Israel’s national baseball team competing for the first time in the World Baseball Classic. Dan Miller, producer and writer, and Josh Zeid, the former Houston Astros player profiled in the film, will lead a Q&A. Another highlight: Catch The Cakemaker on Feb. 16, Israel’s entry for the Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film in 2017.

Various locations. Individual films from $11, all-festival pass for $140 (or $115 for early birds before Jan. 15).

(6) Adrian Crutchfield Reimagines the Sounds of Grover Washington Jr.

Jazz Arts Initiative

Feb. 21

The Queen City’s Adrian Crutchfield has worked with Branford Marsalis, Lionel Richie, and Bette Midler, and toured and recorded with Prince as the leader of the band’s 11-piece horn section from 2012 to 2016. Here, she’ll pay tribute to saxophonist Grover Washington Jr.

Stage Door Theater at Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, 136 N. Tryon St. Tickets are $16-$30.


(7) Black Violin

March 5

Black Violin’s classically trained violist and violinist Wil B. and Kev Marcus infuse their virtuoso performances with hip-hop, rock, and pop. The duo has shared stages with Kanye West and Tom Petty, and collaborated with of Wu-Tang Clan, Wyclef Jean, and Alicia Keys.

Belk Theater, 130 N. Tryon St. Tickets are $25-$55.

02 BV Hi Res1 2016 – Photo Credit Colin Brennan_retouched (1)
Courtesy of Colin Brennan

(8) Peter Pan

Charlotte Ballet

March 8-9, March 14-17

Jeanne-Pierre Bonnefoux’s choreography and elaborate sets and costumes will make you see the classic story in a whole new light.

Charlotte Ballet, Knight Theater, 430 S. Tryon St. Tickets are $25 to $85.

(9) Dear Evan Hansen

Blumenthal Performing Arts Broadway Light Series

March 19-24

The wildly popular show won six 2017 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and the 2018 Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album. A meditation on teen angst in the age of Twitter, the story may make you cry but will ultimately make you soar.

Belk Theater, 130 N. Tryon St. Tickets are $34.50-$184.50.

1 – Ben Levi Ross as ‘Evan Hansen’ and the Company of the First North American Tour of Dear Evan Hansen. Photo by Matthew Murphy. 2018
Photo by Matthew Murphy<br/>Dear Evan Hansen

(10) The Hate U Give community read

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library

March 19

Each year, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library hosts a community-wide book club. This year’s book is The Hate U Give, and author Angie Thomas will be at CPCC’s Halton Theatre on March 19. The novel for teens and adults features 16-year-old Starr Carter, who straddles two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the elite suburban prep school she attends. When Starr witnesses a police officer fatally shoot her childhood best friend, her two worlds collide.

CPCC’s Halton Theatre, 1206 Elizabeth Ave. Admission is free. Tickets here.

(11) Second Story Project co-production

Children’s Theatre, Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte

The Ghost of Splinter Cove

March 22-24, March 29-31, April 5-7

The Great Beyond

March 15-16, March 20-24, March 27-31, April 3-6

Children’s Theatre and Actor’s Theatre collaborated to create “The Second Story Project,” a commissioning of two plays by the same playwright, Steven Dietz, written with an interwoven theme. Both plays are set in the same house on the same evening, but the action takes place on different levels. The Ghost of Splinter Cove focuses on kids telling ghost stories in the basement. The Great Beyond takes place on the main floor from the perspective of the parents, who make contact with the spirit world. Each play stands on its own. Get the full picture by seeing both.

Children’s Theatre, 300 E. 7th St. Tickets are $14-$17. Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte, Charles Hadley Playhouse at Queens University, 2132 Radcliffe Ave. Tickets are $17.20-$25.

(12) Terms of Endearment

Theatre Charlotte

March 22-23, March 28-31; April 3-7

You’ve probably seen the Academy Award-winning movie dozens of times and know the story by heart: Emma is often exasperated by her opinionated mother, Aurora. But they talk every day about everything. This funny, touching story captures the often-fraught relationship between mothers and daughters, who can be enemies and best friends at the same time. Bring tissues.

Eloise MacDonald Playhouse, 501 Queens Road. Tickets are $28.

(13) DIAVOLO: Architecture in Motion

March 13

One of the top 10 finalists on NBC’s America’s Got Talent, DIAVOLO pushes boundaries. The Los Angeles-based dance company performs their signature work, Trajectoire, and newest work, Voyage, featuring their meticulously designed trademark structures. A fusion of dance, acrobatics, and gymnastics, DIAVOLO explores the relationship between the human body and its architectural surroundings.

Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, Belk Theater, 130 N. Tryon St. Tickets are $19.50 $54.50.

Diavolo-CSUN-concert_0411 – Photo by George Simian
Courtesy George Simian<br/> DIAVOLO

(14) Sensoria

Central Piedmont Community College

March 22, March 24, April 5-14, April 17

We’re kind of cheating by listing Sensoria as one event. It’s dozens of events—literary, theatrical, operatic, and more—under one umbrella and presented by Central Piedmont Community College. Sensoria’s official dates are April 5 to April 14, but it’s so chock-full of events, some start in March. Take, for instance, CPCC Opera Theatre’s “Bel Canto and Can Belto,” a concert of opposites. “Bel Canto” is Italian for “beautiful singing.” No less beautiful are the singers who belt it out at the top of their lungs. (Think: musical theater, rock, gospel.) This inventive night of song is sort of Freddie Mercury meets Beverly Sills.

Various venues. Tickets range from free to $21.


(15) William Shakespeare’s Long Lost First Play (abridged)


April 18-20

Discovered in a parking lot in Leicester, England, an ancient manuscript proves to be the first play written by 17-year-old William Shakespeare. Or so claims Chickspeare, Charlotte’s all-female Shakespearean troupe. The manuscript features some of the Bard’s most famous characters in a new and zany story. Because it’s 100 hours long, the Chicks condensed it to a palatable 90 minutes for their premiere of a “lost masterpiece.” The Bard and beer make a great combination.

NoDa Brewing Company, 2921 N. Tryon St. Tickets are $24 in advance, starting April 5, or $28 at the door.


(16) The Big Sing: Mixtape

Carolina Voices

May 11

A live version of the best mixtape anyone ever made. Expect covers of songs by The Beach Boys, The Beatles, Cyndi Lauper, Michael Jackson, and more. Joining the singers on stage will be the dancers from Northwest School of the Arts.

McGlohon Theater at Spirit Square, 345 N College St. Tickets are $15-$25.

(17) Ravel’s Bolero

The Charlotte Symphony Orchestra

May 17-19

The Charlotte Symphony closes out the Classical season with the famously seductive masterwork that’s been covered by everyone from Frank Zappa to The James Gang, and featured in the movie 10 and during the Torvill and Dean ice dancing performance at the 1984 Winter Olympics.

Belk Theater, 130 N. Tryon St. Tickets range from $21 to $95.

(18) Oslo

Three Bone Theatre

May 23-25, May 30-June 1

Oslo won every major theater award in 2017, including the Tony for Best New Play. It’s set in 1993, when Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat shook hands at the White House. The high-profile negotiations took place in secret in a Nordic castle. A surprisingly comic play, Oslo tells the true story of the back-channel negotiations that led to the Oslo Peace Accords.

Duke Energy Theatre at Spirit Square, 345 N. College St. Tickets range from $22 to $28.


(19) Never Abandon Imagination

Mint Museum Randolph

June 22 to Oct. 6

Tony DiTerlizzi’s award-winning and best-selling books — The Spiderwick Chronicles, The Spider and the Fly, and Kenny and the Dragon — have inspired a new generation of young readers. This family friendly exhibition showcases nearly 100 of his original whimsical works, featuring illustrations from Dungeons and Dragons and much more.

2730 Randolph Road. Tickets are free for members and children 4 and under, and $15 for adults.

This piece originally appeared in SouthPark Magazine’s January issue.