After Three Years, Broadway is Back at The Grand for New Subscription Seasonhttps://www.thegrandmacon.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/Bway-Header-scaled.jpg50003333Julia RubensJulia Rubenshttps://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/cca55f6a9f951a4b7354029a7571c731?s=96&d=mm&r=g
After a disruption in touring productions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the first Broadway season will be held at The Grand Opera House with tickets on sale now for a subscription to all three shows. All Broadway shows have two nights of performances, so you can pick a subscription for Night #1 or Night #2.
Become a subscriber and save! Enjoy over 10% savings for your Broadway tickets at The Grand and make the experience your own in your guaranteed seats.
Season Ticket Prices
Gold Circle : $230 (plus tax)
Area 1: $210 (plus tax)
Area 2: $180 (plus tax)
Area 3 and Box Seats: $140 (plus tax)
Buy online, in person at our box office (10 a.m.-2 p.m. for the month of August) or over the phone at 478-301-5470. Additionally, subscribers to the 2019-2020 season have had their seats held for them. To renew, they can contact the box office or complete and return the renewal form that will be mailed to them in the coming days.
Subscribers get the best seats at the best prices: By being a subscriber to all three shows, you save over 10% off the ticket price for individual performances. Additionally, right now Broadway tickets are subscription-only – meaning you’ll get the best seats before the general public.
Save your seat – forever! When you choose to subscribe, your preferred seat is retained for you for the following year when you renew. Love that aisle seat? Want to make sure you’re always front row center? Subscription is the best way to ensure that.
Special perks for season members: Season subscribers will get a special perk during each performance this year, like subscriber gifts, thank you notes, a special post-show reception or a drink ticket for our signature cocktail. Everyone at the show will know you’re part of the club!
Keep Broadway in Macon: By subscribing, you’re ensuring a broad base of support that can help us keep Broadway touring productions coming to The Grand for future years.
Original Interactive Play about Pleasant Hill History and Future to Premiere at The Grand This Saturdayhttps://www.thegrandmacon.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/HealingHauntedHouse.jpg17811416Julia RubensJulia Rubenshttps://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/cca55f6a9f951a4b7354029a7571c731?s=96&d=mm&r=g
A year-long process of participatory research and interviews will culminate in the first presentation of an original play about Macon’s historic Pleasant Hill neighborhood and the impacts of blight on Saturday, April 23 at The Grand Opera House, with 2:30 and 7:30 PM showtimes. Healing a Haunted House will take audiences on an interactive journey of the neighborhood’s past, present, and future, asking all Macon-Bibb citizens to ponder about the neighborhood’s restoration.
Supported in part by Georgia Council for the Arts through appropriations of the Georgia General Assembly and with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, co-artists DSTO Moore, Nancy Cleveland, and Julia Rubens co-wrote Healing a Haunted House, primarily based upon interviews and found text from Pleasant Hill residents. Historic Macon Foundation contributed to historical research and advised the co-artists.
The workshop iteration of the play Saturday is just the beginning of Healing a Haunted House’s activity – the work serves to support and shine a spotlight on efforts towards neighborhood restoration by organizations like the Pleasant Hill Neighborhood Organization and the Community Enhancement Authority.
The play features multiple generations of Pleasant Hill history, including characters like famed volunteer Ozzie Bell McKay. The show highlights history behind currently blighted structures, such as Dr. E. E. Green’s home. The co-artists plan future arts-based interventions, like a youth-led temporary mural in an empty, blighted lot. These efforts seek to harness the civic imagination around blight and Pleasant Hill’s bright history to challenge citizens to contribute to solutions.
Both the 2:30 PM and 7:30 PM performances have limited capacity, due to the interactive nature of the performance. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students and Mercer faculty/staff and can be found at thegrandmacon.com.
Featuring Tanya Arrington, Lakesia Cunningham, Casey Dupree, Marie Jones, Laura Lamoree, Sobe Thomas, and Nathalie Walker. Key art by DSTO Moore
The Grand Opera House is a vibrant community-assembly resource for all residents of Macon-Bibb County, as well as a draw for cultural tourism that significantly impacts the success of Macon’s downtown and corresponding economic vitality. It is our mission to nurture an appreciation of the arts in all citizens of Central Georgia, especially its youngest citizens, through attracting the presentation of quality productions as well as an immersion into a treasured architectural artifact that reflects 133 years of Macon’s history. And finally, as a performing arts center of Mercer University, the Grand Opera House seeks to champion excellence as the premiere theatrical venue in Central Georgia.
Picture Yourself at The Grand in 2021-2022: BRAND NEW SHOWS ANNOUNCED!https://www.thegrandmacon.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/2021-brochure-cover.jpg25501650Julia RubensJulia Rubenshttps://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/cca55f6a9f951a4b7354029a7571c731?s=96&d=mm&r=g
BRAND NEW SHOWS ANNOUNCED!
Picture yourself at The Grand: You belong here. Get date nights all year or grab a group with Movie Passes and Cabaret Packages for $20-30. Set up a private film screening or party in a grand atmosphere. Enjoy captivating shows of all genres with the best touring performers in the country. Give the gift of memories at The Grand Opera House.
Here’s a lineup of all our new performances. Tickets are on sale now – go to thegrandmacon.com anytime or buy at our box office 10 AM-5 PM by calling 478-301-5470.
Broadway Does Pride is an upbeat cabaret-style performance blending Broadway-inspired vocal stylings with the eclectic atmosphere of an intimate lounge show in downtown Macon. “I feel pretty, and witty, and gay!” And so will you with an energetic revue that will revisit musical theatre and pop classics that resonate with the LGBTQIA+ community. For the first time, the cabaret will partner with Theatre Macon and Macon Little Theatre to show that the entire local theatre community supports Pride, with a portion of the proceeds to benefit Macon Pride, in a production co-directed by Jim Crisp and Julia Rubens with music direction by McKinley Starks. Kicking off Pride Week, the special Monday showing will also be designated Service Industry Night to honor service employees. Supported by the Linda Harriet Lane Fund.
When a curious teenage boy accidently resurrects a trio of ancient witches, Halloween in Salem becomes a lot more interesting. A cult classic that perfectly balances spook and hilarious hijinks, Hocus Pocus kicks off our 2021-2022 film series and is a great way to celebrate the Halloween season and look back on ‘90’s nostalgia. Hosts Yutoya Avaze Leon and Christina Leon will get witchy with you.
Macon Art Explosion (MAX) wants to push the envelope in an all-day weekend extreme art festival. Maker Merchant Booths will showcase artists’ wares and offer interactive art activities. There will be Stage Shout-Out Spots where you get a peek at what’s going on with performances, creators, and classes in the region. Finally, in Guerrilla Grand Spaces you get to explore the hidden spaces of the historic Grand, where you will discover mini-concerts, gallery shows, plays, and interactive performances. Macon Art Explosion is a radically inclusive, family-friendly day of weird, wacky, and wonderful ideas by local artists. Supported by a grant from the Community Foundation of Central GA.
Come out to The Grand for a classic Halloween tradition – The Rocky Horror Picture Show! Brad and Janet, a very square engaged couple, stumble upon Dr. Frank-n-Furter’s castle full of enigmatic and loud characters engaging in sinful delights. Rocky Horror is an interactive musical experience like no other that will leave you doing the Time Warp all the way home! Wesleyan College’s Cosplay Club will join hosts Yutoya Avaze Leon and Christina Leon in dressing to impress – join them in your best getup and have the opportunity to win our costume contest!
Broadway Does Holiday is an upbeat cabaret-style performance blending Broadway-inspired vocal stylings with the eclectic atmosphere of an intimate lounge show in downtown Macon. Come be a part of a joyful night of music, because it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas and we’re not waiting until December to celebrate! You’ll feel the holiday spirit with performances of classic holiday songs, including some of your favorite Broadway numbers. The Great White Way will lead you into dreaming of a white Christmas, with jingle bells that sound a lot like showtunes. Supported by the Linda Harriet Lane Fund.
The Tribe’s largest show yet! Join us as we showcase the epic power of these queens – with so many tricks and effects up our sleeves, you’re sure to have the time of your life. Including incredible performers and tantalizing music, LUX will surprise you. Starring Coco Iman Starr, Akasha Giselle Vidalle, Yutoya Avaze Leon, Pynk Dime, and more. Hosted by Christina Leon.
Westley and Buttercup’s epic story of love and revenge hits the big screen at The Grand this December. Laugh and let out an ‘aww’ as you watch one of the greatest love stories of all time and a family classic. With kooky characters, some absurd comedy, and a great journey, it’s “inconceivable” that the combination of The Princess Bride and the Christmas light show in downtown Macon won’t make a great heartwarming holiday evening.
Returning to The Grand for the 25th year, John’s special take on the Christmas season has become a Macon tradition, mixing such Berry classic hits as “Your Love Amazes Me” and “Standing On The Edge Of Goodbye,” and “I Think About It All The Time” with holiday favorites, including his always-standing-ovation performance of “O Holy Night.” No one moves an audience quite the way this platinum-selling vocalist does, and this December Grand appearance is sure to be the hottest holiday ticket in town.
Slacker teen Ferris Bueller ropes his girlfriend and best friend into a day of exploring the city. The truant teens take the time to enjoy the cultural hub they live in because, as Ferris himself says, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Directed by John Hughes and starring Matthew Broderick, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is a love letter to the culture and spirit of Chicago.
They’re back… now let’s party! ABBA MANIA, the original tribute from London’s West End, takes you back in time by recreating one of the world’s finest pop groups in a live stage performance. This highly polished and professional production has been delighting audiences since 1999, re-creating the ABBA phenomenon for fans all over the world. “From beginning to end, ABBA MANIA keeps the party going, jumping, bouncing, twirling and dancing tirelessly” –WBSM New Bedford.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail turns the classical legend of King Arthur’s search for the Holy Grail into a highly quotable farcical comedy, starring the British jesters that have been beloved for generations. Arthur and his knights embark on a poorly funded and incredibly silly search and encounter a multitude of truly ridiculous obstacles like terrifying rabbits and the Knights Who Say “Ni!” This classic comedy will have you leaving the theatre in stitches.
The TEN Tenors are an Australian music ensemble that has toured extensively nationally and internationally and released more than 20 albums. Since The TEN Tenors was first formed in 1995, the group has performed extensively in Australia, overseas and on television, and their signature brand of music featuring 10-part harmonies has been enjoyed by more than 90 million people. They have headlined more than 2,000 concerts around the world, sold more than 3.5 million concert tickets and become renowned for their dynamic, choreographed performances and skillful ability to seamlessly transition from operatic arias to soulful ballads through to chart-topping pop and rock songs.
Broadway Does the 80s is an upbeat cabaret-style performance blending Broadway-inspired vocal stylings with the eclectic atmosphere of an intimate lounge show in downtown Macon. “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” for a night and experience your favorite 80s songs, both Broadway and otherwise, on the big stage! From Dreamgirls and Into The Woodsto Cyndi Lauper and Wham, the energy and passion of 80s music will raise the roof. Supported by the Linda Harriet Lane Fund.
The beat of the drum thrums through your body. Soon your heart and the drummer are in synch and excitement fills your body. In celebration of the Cherry Blossom Festival, we are fortunate to welcome Kenny Endo, the first Westerner to be granted a license to perform traditional Japanese taiko drumming, as he celebrates 45 years practicing an art that is both bombastic and subtle. The evening will include traditional taiko drumming as well as contemporary works where jazz vibraphone, electric violin, Hawaiian ‘ukulele and traditional Japanese instruments are played with a rock and jazz energy.
The echo inside faded walls. There are nearly 4,000 blighted structures in Bibb County that are no longer occupied by a soul (Source: The Telegraph). But what if they still had a voice? This multimedia community-wide exploration process worked directly with citizens of Macon-Bibb County to gather five stories of homes that were once vibrant in Pleasant Hill, presenting them as examples to ask what our civic body can do to restore and heal. A co-creation of lead artists Nancy Cleveland, Julia Rubens, and DSTO Moore along with a host of ensemble voices, partnering The Grand with Historic Macon Foundation and Mercer Players. Supported in part by Georgia Council for the Arts through appropriations of the Georgia General Assembly and with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.
April will bring you back to the ‘80s at The Grand with the double feature of two classic Brat Pack films, St. Elmo’s Fire and Pretty in Pink. These both tells the story of struggling to find who you are and who you want to be – in a world that can change between life, love, and death in an instant. In these two heartfelt films, first feel for high schooler Andie (Molly Ringwald) as she attempts to balance the unstable nature of social cliques and following your heart, then follow an ensemble of recent college graduates (led by Rob Lowe) trying to navigate their wild twentysomething paths while staying friends.
Great for families! Join Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Melman the Giraffe, Gloria the hip hip Hippo and, of course, those hilarious, plotting penguins as they bound out of the zoo and onto the stage in this musical spectacular. Based on the smash DreamWorks animated motion picture, Madagascar The Musical follows all of your favorite crack-a-lackin’ friends as they escape from their home in New York’s Central Park Zoo and find themselves on an unexpected journey to the madcap world of King Julien’s Madagascar. Sponsored by Atrium Health Navicent.
Broadway Does Soul is an upbeat cabaret-style performance blending Broadway-inspired vocal stylings with the eclectic atmosphere of an intimate lounge show in downtown Macon. Connect with the deep emotions and truths of soul music from local Macon music heritage, classic songs from shows such as Memphis and The Wiz, and the sounds of Aretha Franklin and Marvin Gaye in this night of soulful tunes. Supported by the Linda Harriet Lane Fund.
Film and Cabaret Packages on Sale Now!https://www.thegrandmacon.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/blogcover-1.png1080720Julia RubensJulia Rubenshttps://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/cca55f6a9f951a4b7354029a7571c731?s=96&d=mm&r=g
OUR 2021-2022 SEASON IS COMING UP Looking for some arts and entertainment events to liven up your routine? We want to get on your calendar early. Picture yourself at The Grand: A beautiful historic venue that livens up any date night or family outing into an instantly memorable experience. We have the return of several Grand favorites and put tickets on sale for yearly packages you won’t be able to pass up. We’re also announcing an exciting new family-friendly program that hopes to expand the reach of arts and culture in Macon.
The Grand 2021-2022 Film Series
There will be something for everyone in the 2021-2022 Film Series, which features classic films and nostalgia trips you won’t want to miss – including our Viewer’s Choice film that our fans have been voting for all month. As usual, movies will be just $5 and you get one admission totally free with our Movie Pass, which gives five mix-and-match passes for $20! This pass can be redeemed any film, any way. We also have a Family pass for $60 – this includes 20 admissions for when the kids need a night out or the whole family is in town, and breaks down to a 40% savings per ticket! The Movie Pass is the only way to get early access to The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
10/15/2021 – Hocus Pocus
10/30/2021 – Rocky Horror Picture Show
12/17/2021 – The Princess Bride
1/14/2022 – Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
2/25/2022 – Monty Python and The Holy Grail
4/16/2022 – Brat Pack Double Feature (St. Elmos Fire/Pretty in Pink) ($10 admission)
The Movie Pass includes 5 flexible admissions redeemable at any time throughout the season. The Brat Pack Double Feature will use up two admissions on the pass.
Next, we’ll have the themes for our upcoming Broadway Does Cabaret Concert Series. Combine the spellbinding vocal power of Broadway with our casual lounge-style atmosphere and an eclectic mix of popular music genres. A brand-new subscription this year will create an amazingly affordable flexible redemption package for all four Broadway Does Cabaret concerts for just $30 – for the price of many single-night events, you’ll be able to enjoy a whole year’s worth of entertainment!
9/20/2021 – Broadway Does Pride Kickoff (Service Industry Night)
9/23/2021 – Dress Up and Sing Out for Pride FREE Concert at Third Street Park featuring McKinley Starks and Yutoya Leon
11/13/2021 – Broadway Does Holiday
4/1/2022 – Broadway Does the 80’s
5/6/2022 – Broadway Does Soul
Each concert will have early show, 6:30 PM and late show, 8:30 PM. The Broadway Does subscription package includes four admissions redeemable for any show (either the early or late show). Admission will be limited, reserve your tickets soon.
6/26/2021 – Treasure Maps: The Georgia Storytelling Roadshow: Show at 9 PM, house opens at 7:30 PM. Outdoors in parking lot, picnic-style. Free and open to the public.
Treasure Maps is a pop-up, interactive, outdoor theatre taking place in six cities across Georgia!The Treasure Maps show will include live-local hosts, film screening, installations, and interactive activities, all under safe social distancing practices. The roadshow feature is the film screening of Treasure Maps on the big screen. Treasure Maps showcases a collage of ten (10) Georgia storytellers’ experiences with an up-close and personal viewpoint into what it’s like navigating the complex webs of life in our communities as a person with a developmental disability.
10/23-10/24, 2021 – Macon Art Explosion: Event happenings all day. Tickets are $5/day general admission (wristband) and children under 12 are free.
Macon Art Explosion (MAX) wants to push the envelope in an all-day weekend extreme art festival. There will be Maker Merchant Booths to both showcase your wares and to perform interactive art activities. There will be Stage Shout-Out Spots where you can hear a sneak peek to what’s going on with performances, creators, and classes in the region. Finally, Guerrilla Grand Spaces ask what can YOU do to activate a unique space with your mini-concert, gallery show, play, or interactive performance. We present six spaces on the fringes that are ripe to be turned into a creative paradise. And it’s not just the locations that are meant to be edgy – we want your weird, wacky, and wonderful ideas. Macon Art Explosion is radically inclusive, family-friendly, and for artists, by artists.
The “Kings and Queens” of Our Stage are in Maconhttps://www.thegrandmacon.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/storytellers-photo-copy-scaled.jpg25601920Julia RubensJulia Rubenshttps://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/cca55f6a9f951a4b7354029a7571c731?s=96&d=mm&r=g
If, like us, you are working in live events and performance, it seems like a bleak year. COVID-19 made it clear that the essence of performance as we understand it in a common tradition, gathering closely in a space with your community in real time, is not advised in the same ways. An artist I greatly admire, Ping Chong, once said at a talk, “Theatre is what happens when you set up chairs to watch.” And it’s not just the front-of-house operations that are impacted. The essence of creativity that exists for artists from garage bands to Broadway musical casts to make their work happen requires closeness for collaboration. Sure, some of that essence can happen digitally, but there’s a lot that falls in the cracks – just look at the frustration in every Zoom classroom.
We light up our stages with stars. Whether it is the thrill of John Berry crooning a holiday family tradition straight from Nashville, the breathtaking dancing of Diavolo from Los Angeles, or the excitement of triple-threat Broadway stars beautifully narrating from The Great White Way, The Grand’s identity has relied on making the best talent in the nation available to Macon. As the performing arts presenter of Mercer University, we are proud to widen the cultural offerings available to Central Georgians.
Like all venues, our routine has changed in the pandemic. Our executive director’s phone is no longer ringing off the hook with agents trying to sell him on the phone. Our director of rentals is no longer wondering whether a certain set piece will fit onto our historic stage. Our technical director is not coordinating load-outs with a dozen plus crew members late at night. The kinds of shows that we “normally” do, even beloved community productions like The Nutcracker, just aren’t available.
It’s National Arts & Humanities Month (NAHM)—a coast-to-coast collective recognition of the importance of culture in America—which asks how #ArtsCreateHope. In this environment, how do we hold onto this hope?
For us, presenting the stories that are all around us – the people who are the stars in our grocery store lines as we still smile under masks six feet apart – are the way that we continue to provide the best of arts and culture in this turbulent time. If we can’t bring the stars to you, we can shine a spotlight on the ones living in your neighborhood. And with “Kings and Queens” our next event with Storytellers Macon: Live at The Grand Opera House, we certainly have a regal presence. Enjoy the incredible local faces that will be gracing our stage November 7th:
Ansley Booker, Director of Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives at Mercer University, Macon Magazine 5 Under 40. Dr. Booker is a native of Eatonton (her story talks about being the first Dairy Queen of Eatonton!) and here is her TEDx talk about Unhidden Figures: Uncovering Cultural Biases in STEM, a topic where Dr. Booker has long been an advocate and storyteller.
Elliot James-Fernandez, Web Media Manager of Visit Macon, Elliot is also a writer, journalist and performing artist. As a Southern storyteller, his multimedia and journalistic work is committed to telling stories with a focus on depicting the American South in an accurate and historical manner. Here’s a story he wrote about a person utilizing Daybreak’s services. Elliot recently hosted the Historic Macon Foundation’s Hidden History video series about LGBTQ+ Macon History.
Charvis Harrell, visual artist. “”My art comes from a desire to talk about the little know people that sacrifice to make the world a better place, and to give a deeper understanding of what it means to be Black in a society where race is rarely talked about but the disparity between them are overwhelming and devastating.” He is a Macon native who began painting in 2004 and has been exhibited around the country. He tells stories of Black history and identity through portraiture, cartooning, and more.
Angel Colquitt, a senior Journalism major with a minor in Southern Studies at Mercer. They are a Macon native who recently interned with Macon Newsroom. After graduating, they hope to pursue a Masters Degree in Public Health so that they can tell the stories that are currently facing Georgians living in rural areas as a reporter. Here’s an article they wrote about telehealth access in rural Georgia.
Erin Keller, Vice President for Development, NewTown Macon. Erin is a proud graduate of Mercer University where she played basketball and later worked as a staff member. As a passionate community member, Erin serves on the Workforce Development Board and is a member of the Downtown Macon Rotary Club. In all these activities, Erin tells the stories of Macon as the city she grew to love.
He “got rhythm” in only 38 years. Who could ask for anything more?https://www.thegrandmacon.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/1319.02-scaled.jpg38563024Julia RubensJulia Rubenshttps://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/cca55f6a9f951a4b7354029a7571c731?s=96&d=mm&r=g
Gershwin’s tragedy was not that he failed to cross the tracks, but rather that he did, and once there in his new habitat, was deprived of the chance to plunge his roots firmly into the new soil. -Leonard Bernstein
In honor of our first Broadway show, I wanted to give a nod to its composer – the legendary George Gershwin. When spanning important 20th century American music – jazz, showtunes, and the rise of popular music delivered on film – the name Gershwin is ubiquitous.
The odds are, you know a few Gershwin songs without even knowing that you know them.
His story starts straight out of the opening of a musical itself, on the streets of turn-of-the-century lower Manhattan. Born to Russian Jewish immigrants in Brooklyn, George, along with brother Ira (later his lyricist) and other siblings, grew up around the Yiddish theatre in the East Village. His father was a factory man, and as he was hired and fired, Ira said the family lived in 28 apartments during their childhood.
By no means was George destined to be a composer.
In fact, famously, he first discovered the beauty of music as a 10-year-old attending a neighbor girl’s violin recital. When his parents bought a secondhand piano, it was due to Ira’s interest, not George. And it was their sister, Frances, who first supported their family with talent on the stage, singing for $40 a week and even appearing on Broadway. Yet Frances married and retired. And soon George would begin to wear out the family’s piano, not Ira.
A teen prodigy, he dropped out of school at 15 to focus on piano full time with his teacher noting, “I have a new pupil who will make his mark if anybody will. The boy is a genius.” As in any rags-to-riches tale, George worked hard, first as a “song plugger” in Tin Pan Alley playing new sheet music as a marketing gimmick for publishers, and later working as a rehearsal pianist on Broadway.
An accidental genius, when George started composing, he was prolific. Though his first composition earned him only 50 cents, George simply arranged, wrote, and recorded hundreds of songs in his late teens. What makes Gershwin different is that he had one foot in the classical world and one in the world of popular music, creating hybrids that have been described as “distinctly American.” But this American sound was propelled by others.
Writing “Swanee” around the time he turned 20, the hit propelled Gershwin to stardom and millions of copies sold, having been covered by everyone from Judy Garland to the Muppets. This also begins the Gershwin brothers’ complicated history with racially musical traditions, as “Swanee,” like many vaudeville numbers at the time, cannot be disassociated from the abhorrent practice of minstrelsy, and was in fact first popularized by blackface performer Al Jolson.
Much of the foundation of modern musical theatre comes from these shameful traditions. However, George was fascinated by African-American music and wanted the ability to tell genuine stories with black performers on stage. Porgy and Bess was the first opera (and Broadway performance) that featured a story and a cast of and about black Americans. George did travel down to Charleston, South Carolina to try to accurately capture the music of African-American spirituals in the work. And he was known to go visit all-black performances in New York, breaking segregated lines. But still, though George’s attitudes were sometimes daring in crossing the color barrier, the cultural appropriation that pervades his legacy and that of others of his time is difficult to grapple with in a modern context.
At the height of his career, George switched seamlessly between writing classical music, jazz, and truly defining the concept of “showtunes” on Broadway and in film. Yes, you’ve heard Gershwin music, even if you can’t identify it.
Consider the ubiquitous clarinet opening of the orchestral Rhapsody in Blue and the light Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers film Shall We Dance:
Aren’t those tunes familiar?
George’s prolific output during his lifetime alone included at least five full orchestral pieces, two operas, 15 Broadway musicals, five films, and countless piano numbers and popular sheet music. All of this output was before George passed from a brain tumor early at the age of 38. And putting this rough count together does not counting the many, many hundreds of rearrangements of his pieces in musicals and films posthumously, which is most likely how you and I first heard Gershwin.
“Gershwin’s melodic gift was phenomenal. His songs contain the essence of New York in the 1920s and have deservedly become classics of their kind, part of the 20th-century folk-song tradition in the sense that they are popular music which has been spread by oral tradition (for many must have sung a Gershwin song without having any idea who wrote it).” -Michael Kennedy
One hundred years ago, George was enamored by French Impressionist composer Maurice Ravel and booked a trip to Paris to learn from him. Amazingly, Ravel turned him down, saying, “Why be a second-rate Ravel when you can be a first-rate Gershwin?”
Yet during his time in Paris, George began tinkering with a small fragment inspired by the Parisian spirit that he called a “rhapsodic ballet.” This basis began An American in Paris, a jazzy orchestral piece completed in 1928, which has often been performed with ballet dance. George noted, “My purpose here is to portray the impressions of an American visitor in Paris as he strolls about the city, listens to the various street noises, and absorbs the French atmosphere.”
The composition itself, fascinatingly, splits between French styles while the character is “walking” the city and the native American Blues of the homesick visitor. In that way, it was made for drama.
Gene Kelly vamps it up in the film version
And the score sure found it. In the late 1940’s, a movie producer named Arthur Freed was fascinated by Gershwin music and pushed Ira to sell some of George’s catalog. His vision? Use the iconic American composer and the French-sounding score to cash in on the patriotic (yet internationally-curious) post-war spirit coasting through America.
The film was a success, with the star power of Gene Kelly at the helm in 1951. It was lush, risqué, and featured stunning sets and long musical numbers that were expensive to produce – the finale alone was filmed over four weeks. The fantastical, rhapsodic ballet atmosphere Gershwin attempted to produce decades earlier burst into Technicolor life under Vincente Minelli (father of pop culture icon Liza).
And after clinching Best Picture at the Academy Awards, the golden era of musical movies burst forth in rapid succession. Without An American in Paris, movie musicals would have been stuck in vaudeville stereotypes of sequins and plunking away at a piano. When one considers the conceptual boldness of something like The Sound of Music, for example, with its extravagant tracking shot of Julie Andrews in the Austrian mountains, know that would not have been possible without the filmmakers who paved the way for the success of the genre.
Stunning dance work pervades the Broadway show
It is no surprise, then, that the stage adaptation for Broadway was directed by Christopher Wheeldon – less of a typical theatre director and more a visionary ballet choreographer, at home in the largest ballet companies in America. Wheeldon ups the stakes of the original movie, placing the plot closer to the door of World War II and emphasizing the war-torn nature of 1940’s Paris. The rhapsodic ballet of Gershwin survives well into the 21st century, nominated for 11 Tony Awards and winning four, including Best Choreography. NPR called it “a perfect mélange of Franco-British-American artistic traditions of dance and theater.”
And soon, An American in Paris dances to our very doorstep. Who could ask for anything more?
The musical will play March 17 and 17 and tickets are available for purchase here and at 478-301-5470. To complement your Parisian evening, a multi-course preshow meal package from Lazy Susan Tapas called Midnight in Paris is available as an add-on at checkout.
-Julia Rubens is the Director of Arts Marketing for The Grand Opera House
It’s Not A UFO, It Is Throat Singinghttps://www.thegrandmacon.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/2016_Alash_Tuva_horses-scaled.jpg41902683Joe PattiJoe Pattihttps://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/03401aa2173878ced48e14765e318635?s=96&d=mm&r=g
Chances are, you haven’t heard of Tuvan Throat Singing. Chances are, you also haven’t heard of Tuva, a small country in the Russian Federation located south of Siberia.
All that is okay. We invited the group to Macon so you have an opportunity to encounter something new.
Here at The Grand we have big, flashy shows full of spectacle that often cost you $50 or more to attend. We are also a place you can have small, intimate experiences where you can meet artists and satisfy a curiosity to learn new things without feeling you are risking your time and money.
Alash is one of those groups. I have worked with Alash before and they are a lot of fun.
Actually, the fun part is watching people in the audience, from 4 year old kids to 80 year old grandparents, trying to replicate the sound coming out of the singers’ mouths.
The one comment many people make is that the singing style must strain vocal cords.
People are surprised to learn the technique is very natural and relaxing even though it sounds like the throat is constricted to an inch of its life.
Just check out the video below. Often they are creating a really big sound but their lips are barely open. You almost wonder if it is real or a trick with the microphones. The sound had to be loud. The technique was developed as a way for people tending herds to sing back and forth to each other across fields and valleys.
My favorite technique starts at the 3:00 mark. To me it sounds exactly like the sound effect for a hovering UFO, but there are no tricks, just his mouth.
If you are thinking, these are strange things that people from other places do, remember the goal of beatboxers and a capella groups is to create a whole range of sounds with just their voices.
There is a beatboxer from Baltimore who goes by the name Shodekh who traveled to Tuva to learn the technique. He will be on the tour with Alash and can answer questions about how beatboxing and throat singing work well together.
You may have seen him in the video below we have posted about the show.
If any of this stimulates your curiosity in the least, swing by The Grand on March 12, 7:30 pm. Tickets are $10
-Joe Patti is the Executive Director of The Grand Opera House
Love Letters Meet And Greet Pictureshttps://www.thegrandmacon.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/DSC_0540-e1569853222605.jpg500648Joe PattiJoe Pattihttps://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/03401aa2173878ced48e14765e318635?s=96&d=mm&r=g
Thanks to everyone who participated in the Love Letters meet and greet with Barbara Eden and Barry Bostwick. The staff traveling with the performers provided us with some of the pictures they took. If you are one of the people below and would like an original, please email us at TheGrand@mercer.edu with the number(s) of the images you want.
The Search for Neverlandhttps://www.thegrandmacon.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/finding-neverland-hook.jpg20481365Sarah WebsterSarah Websterhttps://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/1e9d8748830199852e3da90b3f9b815f?s=96&d=mm&r=g
Win 2 Free Tickets to see Finding Neverland
The Search for Neverland begins
Friday, Feb. 1 and ends Friday, Feb. 8 at 3 p.m.
Everyone who completes ALL the tasks will be entered to win 2 FREE tickets to see Finding Neverland on Feb 12 & 13. (5 pairs total)
The Grand Opera House invites everyone who doesn’t want to grow up to join us on our Search for Neverland right here in Macon. Complete each of the tasks below around town and document your experience, posting to Facebook OR Instagram and using the hashtag #NeverlandMacon. (Make your posts public to ensure we see your photos!) Tag the Grand Opera House in your photos. Complete in any order. Look for the Search in the current issue of 11th Hour, on stands now!
Here are the tasks:
Fairy dust is great, but there’s also Mercedes Benz of Macon to get us around. Go take a picture in the driver’s seat of a showroom car!
Strike a Peter Pan pose and snap a pic in front of the Beverly Olson Children’s Hospital at Navicent Health. Navicent Health is our show sponsor!
Visit a library and take a photo of yourself reading Peter Pan.
Show us your best Captain Hook pirate impression in the boat sculpture at Bernd Park. (video)
Take a video of yourself “flying” across the pedestrian bridge at Mercer University.
Remember your childhood! Take a video of yourself going down the slide at Society Garden.
Let’s see your musical skills. Take a video of yourself playing the piano on Poplar Street.
Take a pic with the sculpture located at Cherry and Third Street. Copy her pose!
Go to the Macon Arts Gallery and get a selfie with your favorite piece of art.
Take a picture of your shadow stretching out over the fountain in Tattnall Square Park
For more information about Finding Neverland or our other upcoming Broadway shows check out the events below!
Christmas at The Grandhttps://www.thegrandmacon.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/DSC_4350.jpg21001391Sarah WebsterSarah Websterhttps://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/1e9d8748830199852e3da90b3f9b815f?s=96&d=mm&r=g
The holiday season is truly unique. It brings people together unlike any other time of the year. There’s something about the cold weather, festive decorations and cheerful music that makes us feel that sense of joy and belonging each year. This year, we are presenting several holiday events perfect for you and your friends and family to visit the theater and celebrate the season. Check it out below!
Nutcracker of Middle Georgia
Dec. 5 – 9 | Matinee and Evening Performances
The Nutcracker of Middle Georgia returns for its 34th season at the Grand Opera House. Come witness the magic of this Christmas tradition at one of six performances! Learn more.
Celtic Angels Christmas
Dec. 11 | 7:30 p.m.
Produced in Ireland, ‘Celtic Angels Christmas’ will enrapture audiences with the magic of Christmas in an awe inspiring show which encompasses vocal and instrumental seasonal favorites alongside Irish, contemporary and original Christmas themes…all with a Celtic twist. Learn more.
Movie: Love Actually
Dec. 14 | 7 p.m.
Nine intertwined stories examine the complexities of the one emotion that connects us all: love. A romance for all to enjoy, with a perfectly timed showing during this Christmas season. Learn more.
A Christmas Carol
Dec. 15 | 3:00 p.m.
From Nebraska Theatre Caravan comes the beloved Dickens’ classic story, rich with thrilling ensemble music, alive with color and movement, and sure to bring the joy of Christmas to audiences of all ages. Note: this performance is a matinee. Perfect for bringing little ones to the theater! Learn more.
Christmas Stories and Songs with John Berry
Dec. 22 | 7:30 p.m.
Returning to The Grand for the 22nd year, John’s special take on the Christmas season has become a Macon tradition, mixing such Berry classic hits as “Your Love Amazes Me” and “Standing On The Edge Of Goodbye,” and “I Think About It All The Time” with holiday favorites, including his always-standing-ovation performance of “O Holy Night.” Learn more.
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