This fall, the always entertaining Baltimore Speaker Series presents three seemingly disparate talkers: former President Bill Clinton (Oct. 16), “The Glass Castle” author Jeannette Walls (Oct. 30) and journalist/TV host Lisa Ling (Nov. 27). But wait! Upon closer inspection, they do have at least four things in common.
Rock of Ages
What the War of 1812 really needs, of course, is its own rock opera. Thanks to the Baltimore Rock Opera Society— and co-creators David Dudley and Dave Israel— you, too, can celebrate the rocket’s red glare with power chords and fist pumping. 1814! The War of 1812 Rock Opera has all your favorite characters— from Rear Adm. George Cockburn to Maj. George Armistead to Mary Pickersgill— singing their hearts out to 1970s-style power ballads, boasting Spinal Tap-esque names such as “Big Ass Flag.” Huzzah! Creative Alliance at the Patterson, Oct. 6. 410-276-1651, http://www.creativealliance.org —J.S.
Sure, people love their cars, but bicyclists, especially, love their bikes. Bike Show, an exhibit exploring people’s relationships with their two-wheelers, opens at Maryland Art Place Sept. 13 and runs through Oct. 27. The exhibition show-cases those artists who have embraced bike culture and created works featuring their rides. Stay tuned for additional programming that brings together experts from local government, transportation, health and community development to brainstorm about improving Baltimore’s collective biking IQ. 410-962-8565, http://www.mdartplace.org —J.S.
Mentioning Shakespeare evokes images of swordplay, medieval intrigue, star-crossed lovers and the ubiquitous tights. But the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company is hoping to challenge these tired word associations with its upcoming movable production of Richard III, which has been re-imagined in a World War I setting. Audience members will walk through the stone ruins of the Patapsco Female Institute Historic Park as the action unfolds. Violent sword fights and Olde English catcalls will be replaced with trench warfare and simulated gunfire and explosions. Director Ian Gallanar hopes to forge meaningful connections between the local ruins and the well-known tale of warring families in Europe. Oct. 5 through 28. 410-313-8661, http://www.chesapeakeshakespeare.com —Taylor
The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s Gala Concert promises a night of super-latives. Renée Fleming, whom Billboard magazine has called “the world’s greatest living soprano,” performs with conductor Marin Alsop and the orchestra on Sept. 15. The BSO’s annual gala helps raise money for its educational and community outreach programs. We’re also looking forward to “Bernstein’s Kaddish” (Sept. 28 and 30) and another world-class soprano (and 2011 Kennedy Center honoree) Barbara Cook (Nov. 3). 410-783-8000, http://www.bsomusic.org —T.C. Colvin
In Living Color
There’s just something about the palette of painter and printmaker Mattye Hamilton that pleases us so (to the point of alliteration). Her soft, surprising color combinations, depicting purse-lipped women and floral motifs, are the stuff of fleeting dreams or maybe just French throw pillows from the Belle Époque. See works by the Baltimore artist— and Maryland Institute College of art grad— at Minás Gallery, Sept. 22 through Nov. 25. 815 W. 36th St., 410-732-4258, http://www.minasgalleryandboutique.com —J.S.
curator, Baltimore Museum of Art
When the Baltimore Museum of Art unveils the $24.5 million renovation of its contemporary wing on Nov. 18, no one will be happier— or more relieved—than Kristen Hileman. As the museum’s curator of contemporary art, Hileman has spent more than two years planning the new wing—and figuring out where to position its more than 130 objects.
What’s been the hardest part so far? Living without the collection! Right now, the collection is in compressed storage. You can’t spend time with the pieces that you love. It’s like not seeing an old friend for a while.
The wing includes a dozen new acquisitions. What are you looking forward to seeing in the gallery? Sarah Oppenheimer’s work is a pretty bold installation. It’s an architectural intervention that cuts through the two levels of the wing. It’s made of aluminum and mirrored surfaces and acts as a sort of periscope, so from the upper level and stairway, you’ll be able to see what’s
going on in other spaces. … I see it as a metaphor, noting that museums are nothing without people that populate its galleries.
How do you decide what hangs where? The space is organized thematically, not chronologically. The greatest tool is a magnetic board that has each of the galleries and a pool of artwork as two-dimensional scale magnets. We spent time moving things around in that format. There’s nothing like being in the space, though. It might cause us to see things in a different way.
What’s the biggest difference between the old wing and the new? Besides the new lighting, paint and floors, for me, personally, one of the great features of the new wing is the new exhibition spaces within it. Every four months visitors will be able to see something different. There’s a small exhibition space that will first have an exhibit of artists based in Baltimore and South Africa. There’s also a new black box space, featuring mixed media, rotating three times a year. And work from our extensive paper collection will rotate every six months. … That’s what museums should be— resources in the community that people can come back to and see new things all the time. —as told to Joe Sugarman
concert promoter, Charm City Music Festival
We love a good outdoor music festival: the dancing crowds, the food, the sweat. That’s why we’re particularly looking forward to the first-ever Charm City Music Festival (charmcitymusicfestival.com), a daylong extravaganza featuring 14 bands (including headliner Weezer), an electronic dance tent and “seafood village” to be held on the Harbor East waterfront. The Sept. 15 event is the brainchild of longtime local concert promoter Paul Manna of 24-7 Entertainment, who also has been responsible for bringing top acts like Justin Bieber to the Maryland State Fair in 2010 and has booked all the main stage acts at Artscape since 2004.
So how would you describe the concert scene in Baltimore? It’s very healthy. It’s a big rock town, mainly thanks to [the influence of] 98 Rock. Mainstream rock acts do better business here than in D.C., which has a much stronger indie rock scene. An indie rock band will sell 1,200 tickets at the 9:30 Club in Washington, but only half that number in Baltimore.
How has the festival scene changed over the years? It has exploded. So many promoters who have never done festivals in years past are trying to put them on— including myself. It’s a huge risk, the expenses are tenfold what they are for any other show… but I’ve always wanted to have my own festival and this year felt right to do it.
How has social media changed what you do? When you used to book a band, the agent’s contract would require you to place at least a 1/4-page ad in the local music paper. Now they say, ‘Don’t do print. Put the money toward social media.’ We didn’t run a single print ad with Bieber. It was all online, and the show sold out in 18 minutes.
What do you hope the festival brings to Baltimore? Other than the thousands of people to the area, I think showcasing the landscape of the city will be
exciting for out-of-towners. Many people have never been to the space that the festival site is on [the former Allied Signal lot]. We’re on the water with panoramic views of the Inner Harbor and Harbor East— a perfect setting for a festival, especially at night. —as told to Emma Fesperman
Seeing is Believing
After Emmet Till was murdered by white supremacists in 1955, his mother, Mamie Till Bradley, distributed to newspapers a photograph of his bloodied corpse. Asked why she would do this, Bradley replied, “Let the world see what I’ve seen.” For All the World to See: Visual Culture and the Struggle for Civil Rights, organized by the Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture, University of Maryland, Baltimore County in partnership with the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, examines the role of visual culture in influencing the struggle for racial equality. The exhibition features more than 250 objects— posters, comic books, toys and clips from TV and film— and shows how they influenced beliefs and attitudes about race during the struggle for civil equality. Nov. 15 through March 10, 2013, at the Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture, UMBC, 410-455-3188, http://www.umbc.edu/cadvc —J.S.
Journey— or at least three-fifths of the original 1980s lineup— makes it back to Baltimore to perform for a good cause: the 13th Annual Paul Reed Smith Guitars and Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center Charity Weekend. Before the band takes the stage, a VIP pre-concert party features a fashion show hosted by “Real Housewives’” Michaele Salahi and a live auction for guitars signed by rockers from Carlos Santana to Slash. Speaking of guitarists, Journey’s Neal Schon is still with the band, but Steve “Oh, Sherrie” Perry, where are you? Oct. 14, at the Modell Performing Arts Center at the Lyric Opera House. 410-547-SEAT, http://www.lyricoperahouse.com —J.S.
The Bus Stops Twice
On Oct. 12, 1962, the Spotlighters Theatre presented Bus Stop, a play about a bus that pulls up at a diner during a snowstorm and all its weary passengers must spend the night. Fifty years later to the day, the theater presents Bus Stop again to celebrate its 50th season. Through Nov. 11. 410-752-1225, spotlighters.org. Oh, if you miss the play at Spotlighters, you can see it at CenterStage, which presents it Nov. 21 through Dec. 23. 410-986-4000, http://www.centerstage.org —J.S.
The Walters Art Museum casts fresh eyes on an era that the art world has been analyzing for ages in Revealing the African Presence in Renaissance Europe. The exhibit invites visitors to reassess the Renaissance, focusing specifically on the African influence in works of art and how slaves, servants and free Africans were depicted in paintings, drawings, sculptures and illustrated books. The exhibit features approximately 75 works of art from collections around the world. Oct. 14 through Jan. 21, 410-547-9000, http://www.thewalters.org —T.C.
Nostalgia will hang thick in the air for Everyman Theatre’s upcoming production of Heroes. Not just because the plot centers on three aging war vets who pass their time gossiping together in a military retirement home in the south of France. Not just because this aging band of brothers decides to pack up, ship out and leave behind their everyday drudgery in the pursuit of one last adventure. But because this production marks the final days that the Everyman Theatre will reside in its longtime Charles Street location, before it takes a journey of its own to a new location on Fayette Street. See the old gal one last time, Oct. 24 through Dec. 2. 410-752-2208, http://www.everymantheatre.org —T.C.
She’s a Croatian classical guitar wizard who began playing at the age of 5. By the time Ana Vidovic was 11, she was performing internationally, and at 13, she became the youngest student to attend the prestigious National Musical Academy in Zagreb. She was also a part-time Baltimore resident, having studied under Manuel Barrueco at the Peabody Conservatory, where she graduated in 2005. See her at An Die Musik, between stops on a world tour that takes her from Australia to Brazil. Sept. 9. 410-385-2638, http://www.andiemusiklive.com —J.S.
If you’ve ever attended a play in the Baltimore area, chances are you’ve seen Bruce Nelson. The prolific actor is a company member at Everyman Theatre, but he also appears frequently at Columbia’s Rep Stage, and has figured prominently in roles with the Baltimore Shakespeare Festival, and the Folger and Shakespeare theaters in Washington, D.C. This fall, he’ll be appearing at CenterStage as the lead in “The Completely Fictional-Utterly True-Final Strange Tale of Edgar Allan Poe,” Oct. 17 through Nov. 25.
How are you preparing for the role? To get a sense of who Poe is, I am in the process of reading his poems and some of his biographies, so that when I reference different characters in the play, I know who I am talking about. But beyond that, so much of the interpretation of his character is going to be based on the ensemble.
Anything surprise you? I knew ‘The Raven’ before, but it gets picked apart by the play in a way that I hadn’t expected. It is my new favorite. It is entirely possible that after the play, people will consider Poe in a different light.
This production marks a departure from CenterStage’s tendency of using actors from New York for principal roles. Is it important for Baltimore residents to watch shows with Baltimore-based performers? I’m excited to have this opportunity. It seems like there is an effort by CenterStage to connect with the community. I think the local connection is important, and bringing new and different artists is also important when it comes to evolving. I know people like their favorites, but it’s also good to get some new people as well.
What aspect of the production are you most excited about? Working with different and new people. The play calls for fast in-and-out trickery, and I do love that. Lots of ups and downs. It doesn’t sit still. It moves like a bullet. —as told to Taylor Colvin
You Can’t Smile Without Him
Barry Manilow famously sang “I Write the Songs” and indeed he has. He’s penned 422 tracks between his first single in 1971 and his most recent album, “Live in London,” released in April. But the thing is, Manilow didn’t really write “I Write the Songs.” It was actually penned by Bruce Johnston of the Beach Boys. In honor of Manilow’s appearance at the 1st Mariner Arena on Sept. 15, here are three more surprising facts every Manilow fan should know:
> In the ’60s, Manilow worked as a commercial jingle writer, penning the recognizable ditty, “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.” He also wrote and recorded the Band-Aid song, “I am stuck on Band-Aid Brand ‘cause Band-Aid’s stuck on me,” singing in a realistic child’s voice.
> In 1978, Manilow had five albums on the Billboard music charts at the same time, an achievement only equaled by Frank Sinatra, Michael
Jackson, Bruce Springsteen and Johnny Mathis.
> In June 2006, Australian officials blasted Barry Manilow’s music between the hours of 9 p.m. and midnight every Friday, Saturday and Sunday to deter gangs of youths from
congregating in a residential area.
Green In The Face
When the musical “Wicked” returns to the Hippodrome Theatre, Oct. 3 through Nov. 4., it will play a healthy 40 showings, including matinees. Here are some other impressive numbers about the Broadway production:
> 2-3 Hours it takes to apply the life casts for the animal masks, during which time performers lose most of their ability to talk, smell, hear or see
> 70 Wigs worn each night, all made from human hair
> 433 Inches of the dragon’s wingspan, the same as a Cessna 172 airplane
> 3 Initials in ‘Wizard of Oz’ author L. Frank Baum’s name used to create Elphaba’s name (eL-Fa-Ba)
> 200 Pounds of dry ice per production to create spooky fog and smoke on set.
> 175 thousand Pounds of scenery on the set
> 12 Houses that could be powered by the amount of energy consumed during each performance
executive director, Shriver Hall Concert Series
How do you attract the best classical musicians to Baltimore every year? If you’re Stephen Jacobsohn, you help brainstorm an “any artist in the world that we could have” list of performers and then try to book them as far in advance as possible.
So what can concertgoers expect from the upcoming season? Really amazing classical music performers. Two incredible pianists who you don’t see playing in Baltimore—[Piotr Anderszewski, Dec. 2 and Marc-André Hamelin, Jan. 27]— or any of the other areas around here, and rarely in Washington, D.C.
How does Shriver Hall consistently attract top talent who don’t play other area venues? I’m always searching for the new, upcoming artist. I read international publications, trying to find the next big thing. What do you like to listen to in the car? I listen to everything from rock ‘n’ roll to jazz, to a little bit of country music. I have a wide palate. I’ve been listening to a new band now, called Cat Empire, from Australia. They are a rock band without guitars, and they have an interesting mix of musical forms— rock and ska.
How has the reception from the Baltimore community been for the concerts during your time as director? We have incredibly strong support, an incredibly faithful subscriber base. People who started subscribing in their 20s, or as Hopkins students, and have stayed with us. Because we are doing things you can’t find in the area, we have been attracting attention from our neighboring states. We always get good, big audiences, great performers— and they come together in beautiful ways. —as told to Taylor Colvin
A collection of 20 self-portraits painted on silk banners by rescued Cambodian children, Andi Olsen’s filmed stories behind human body scars and the intricate cutout stories of TED speaker sensation Béatrice Coron are all part of the American Visionary Art Museum’s newest exhibition, The Art of Storytelling: Lies, Enchantment, Humor and Truth. Each of the 30-plus artists use varying forms of artistic expression— from graffiti to embroidery to film— to tell stories in a visual way. Also on display: Mars Tokyo’s miniature 3-D Theaters of the 13th Dimension. And, by popular demand, the return of Esther Krinitz’s 36-piece, embroidered tale of her Holocaust survival. Oct. 5 through Sept. 1, 2013, 410-244-1900, http://www.avam.org —T.C.
When Daniel, a successful Hollywood writer, brings his girlfriend home to meet his East Coast intellectual family, secrets emerge and long-simmering conflicts come to a boil. Expect plenty of narcissism, neuroses and family dysfunction in Mother, May I, a world-premiere dark comedy written by Dylan Brody and directed by The Strand’s artistic director, Rain Pryor. Brody, a novelist, stand-up comic and winner of the Stanley Drama Guild for playwriting, has been compared to David Sedaris, Woody Allen and Garrison Keillor. Sept. 21 through Oct. 12, 443-874-4917, http://www.strand-theater.org —J.S.
A little bit of North Carolina twang comes to Charm City on Sept. 23 in the harmonies of two brothers and their band. The Avett Brothers, a Concord, N.C.-based folk act, play Pier Six Pavilion 12 days after they release their 11th album, “The Carpenter.” Expect a rootsy combination of folk, bluegrass and rock, during an undoubtedly high-energy show. 410-783-4189, http://www.piersixpavillion.com —E.F.
founder, Baltimore Shakespeare Factory
Think the Spice Girls and Shakespeare don’t mix? Think again. The Baltimore Shakespeare Factory (theshakespearefactory.com) performs the Bard’s works using traditional Shakespearean staging conditions (men play women; actors portray multiple roles), but adds thematically appropriate modern-day music. The weekends of Nov. 9 and 16, the BSF performs “Two Gentlemen of Verona” at St. Mary’s Outreach Center in Hampden.
Tell us about the November show. It’s our annual actor ensemble experiment. Once a year we have the actors direct themselves. The actors meet on a Sunday and put the show on the following Friday. In Shakespeare’s day, they didn’t have a director. Actors would just get together and perform.
Why is it important to put on shows like they did in Shakespeare’s day? In Shakespeare’s time, plays were not considered high culture. It was low culture. Today, theater is trying too hard to become like film, but film is a completely different medium. In film and in [contemporary] theater, the director only lets you see what he or she wants you to see. And the audience sits in the dark, quietly like at a church or museum. God forbid you open a candy wrapper. We don’t believe that’s what theater is about.
Your productions are known for being interactive, right? The actors are trained to go out into the audiences. If Hamlet asks, ‘Am I a coward?’ We want the audience to answer that, and say, ‘Yes, you are!’
What’s an example of music used in a production? Shakespeare seems to have taken modern music of his time and used it in his plays. We have pre-show and intermission music where we use songs like ‘It’s a Wonderful World,’ ‘Wannabe’ by the Spice Girls and ‘Hero’ by Enrique Iglesias. They all help propel the story or have some connection; they are not indiscriminately chosen. You’re also the author of a book about Shakespearean trivia. Can you ask us one? Well, the book has more than 2,000 questions. OK. In a classic episode of ‘Gilligan’s Island,’ cast members produce a musical version of which play? ‘Hamlet,’ ‘Macbeth,’ ‘King Lear’ or ‘Romeo and Juliet’?
Um, you should probably just tell us. It was ‘Hamlet.’— as told to Emma Fesperman