The Reichhold Center for the Arts is bringing in some big names and acts for the 2013-14 season, which will also celebrate the return of everything from opera to live theater on the center’s stage.
The official lineup was unveiled Thursday evening during the St. Thomas-St. John Chamber of Commerce "Business After Hours" event, and Reichhold Center Director Nissa Copemann also took some time to talk to the Source about the efforts put in to creating a season that she said is truly representative of the territory’s diverse culture.
Copemann said this season marks the center’s 35th anniversary, and kicking things off on Oct. 5 is a featured performance from Sheila E., known worldwide as the "Queen of Percussion." Along with being considered the top female drummer in the world, Sheila E. rose to the top of the music charts in the 1980s and is best known for her work with rock musician Prince.
The Reichhold’s Oct. 19 show will take theatergoers on a trip into the world of Egyptian belly dance, with a featured performance by the Sahar Dance Company. International reviews describe the group as the "world’s most beautiful belly dancers," and on its first trip to the territory, the company will also be accompanied by Gamal Gomaa, better known as the "King of Egyptian Tabla."
Residents coming to the Dec. 6 show will be treated to a concert by internationally recognized mezzosoprano Denyce Graves, who will help the Reichhold usher in the holiday season with some festive tunes – and maybe, according to Copemann, some of the songs featured in the St. Louis jazz-musical "Champion," which stars Graves as the mother of St. Thomas boxing champion Emile Griffith.
"Denyce Graves was a commanding force as Griffith’s mother Emelda," one St. Louis paper writes. "She leapt from whimsical charm as an American immigrant to haunting portrayals of her impoverished upbringing in St. Thomas."
"Black Angels Over Tuskegee," which will hit the Reichhold stage on Nov. 11, has been running on Broadway for the past four years and Copemann said that the play brings back something that the Reichhold has not time for some time: live theater.
The play follows the story of six men on their way to becoming WWII Army Air Force pilots. Widely acclaimed nationally, the Reichhold’s production will also feature well-known actor Lamman Rucker, who most recently starred in Tyler Perry’s "Why Did I Get Married?" series.
The Reichhold’s Jan. 11, 2014, show is guaranteed to be sold out, Copemann said, as hip-hop superstar Common prepares to take the stage. While recently making the jump into acting with various movie roles and a recurring part on the AMC television series "Hell on Wheels," the two-time Grammy award winner is better known for his breakout music hits, including "I Used to Love H.E.R." and "The Light."
A performance by Bebel Gilberto will usher in Valentine’s Day for the Reichhold, helping to strike up the romantic mood on Feb. 14. The performance will be followed on Feb. 22 by Indian dance group Surati – which Copemann said will showcase some traditional Indian numbers along with some Bollywood moves. Husband-and-wife jazz duo Tuck & Patty will perform on May 10.
Copemann said the Reichhold’s Family Series this year should also be particularly appealing: it kicks off Nov. 2 with a tribute to "King of Pop," Michael Jackson, performed by tribute artists actually sanctioned by Jackson himself. "Invincible: A Glorious Tribute to the King of Pop" looks at Jackson’s entire career, from his time in the Jackson 5 to his most recent work.
Parents familiar with the Dorothy Cronin classic "Giggle Giggle Quack" will also get the chance on Feb. 28 and March 1 to bring the entire family out for a live performance of the award-winning sequel "Click Clack Moo," which Copemann said features fun costumes and lively song and dance numbers.
"We’ve really expanded our family series this year," Copemann added. "And this is very important to us because we’re able to provide low cost tickets and make the arts accessible to everyone in the Virgin Islands."
The family series wraps up March 22 with a performance by Voice of Inspiration, a musical group made up of students, alumni and staff from the University of the Virgin Islands. The group will be performing its signature "A Musical Journey Through Time," a production that moves through the world of African American music, from old Negro spirituals to lively calypso beats.
Finally, the entire 2013-14 season will close out on May 24 with the return of Maxi Priest to the Reichhold. Priest is best known for musical numbers that combine reggae and R&B into a genre better known as reggae fusion, including the breakout hit "Close to You."
"It’s going to be an amazing season, and we really do have something for everyone," Copemann said. "So we’re inviting the whole Virgin Islands community to come out and join us, to have some fun and really experience some, or all, of these great performances."