Lawrence Toppman

Fall arts preview: For once, mainstream meets the outsiders

Charlotte has not always been hospitable to non-mainstream culture: It’s been relegated to obscure groups or hard-to-find venues, where only the most dedicated folks unearth it. But this season, the known and unknown march side by side.

Opera Carolina will do the North American professional premiere of “Aleko,” the best of Rachmaninov’s three short operas, in tandem with “I Pagliacci.” Charlotte Ballet will pair Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux’s familiar “Shindig” with a new ballet by Sasha Janes and a second go-round for Jili Kylian’s rare “Forgotten Land.”

The Charlotte Symphony will match Copland’s “Appalachian Spring” with a Shostakovich concerto for piano and trumpet, while the greatest of clarinet concertos (that would be Mozart’s) is on a bill with evocative music Swedish composer Lars-Erik Larsson wrote for Shakespeare’s “A Winter’s Tale.”

Classical music calendar

Classical music season in Charlotte is brimming with promise – and variety.

And the Broadway Lights programming by Blumenthal Performing Arts offers tours that never stop – “Wicked,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Stomp!” – alongside fresh ones, such as “The Bridges of Madison County” and “If/Then.” (I happily await “Matilda,” the musical based on Roald Dahl’s book.)

Dance calendar

Dance season brings a mix of eclectic offerings for everyone to enjoy.

The most striking event of the BPA year may be “Breakin’ Convention,” two days of hip-hop in early October. British impresario Jonzi D., who has presented a similar event for years at Sadler’s Wells in London, is assembling local and international acts that will fill Knight Theater and dance out onto the Tryon Street plaza. They’ll be augmented by vendors and graffiti artists and community participation.

Children’s Theatre of Charlotte and Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte will premiere works. “The Patron Saint of Losing Sleep,” winner of ATC’s nuVoices Festival, opens this month; it’s about a call center representative who makes a serious mistake. “The Magic Kite,” a play at CTC by José Cruz González, has been adapted from illustrations by Charlotte artist Rosalia Torres-Weiner; it depicts a boy communicating with a father deported to Mexico.

Theater calendar

Charlotte theater schedule offers something for everybody.

Some groups have found ways to reinvent themselves in tough times. Charlotte Concerts is betting on lesser-known but equally able musicians, from Turtle Island Jazz Quartet (touring with pianist Cyrus Chestnut) to the innovative American Chamber Players. Queen City Theatre Company comes back from its 18-month hiatus with a series of local debuts, including plays by Neil LaBute (“The Money Shot”) and Harvey Fierstein (“Casa Valentina.”)

Charlotteans who are used to getting all their culture uptown (or close to it, in the case of Theatre Charlotte on Queens Road or CPCC on Elizabeth Avenue) will miss out if they don’t look farther afield. Davidson Community Players and Matthews Playhouse can each be reached in 30 minutes (on a good day) from the center of town, and UpStage has become a haven for smaller companies on North Davidson Street.

Pop music calendar

Rich mix of pop musical offerings is in store for music lovers of all types.

And, of course, this calendar has been devoted to companies that traditionally announce full seasons before the September-June production cycle begins. Almost as many companies pop up from time to time with single shows – groups such as Triptych Collective and the Avant Guardians and Appalachian Creative Theatre – that can be found only by keeping an eye open. We’ll try to do that on your behalf.

Toppman: 704-358-5232

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