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Boston Pops, Anna Deavere Smith, Stars of American Ballet and nine musicals highlight new Lied season
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Boston Pops, Anna Deavere Smith, Stars of American Ballet and nine musicals highlight new Lied season

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The Lied Center for Performing Arts was in the second half of its star-packed 30th anniversary season when the coronavirus pandemic forced it to shut down its shows.

Refusing to be closed by the virus, Lied put together a scaled-down 2020-21 season of solo and small group performances presented under COVID-19 restrictions that made it one of the only performing arts centers presenting any shows in the last year.

In August, Lied will begin a new season that’s both back to normal and a redo of what was set for 2020-21 and some shows from last year that didn’t make it to the stage.

“Overall, the season really is a mix of some things that we had hoped to present, some artists that ended up doing webcast performances that now are coming in person and then some brand new shows weren't weren't touring last year,” said Matthew Boring, associate director of marketing and patron development.

As had been the case before the pandemic, Lied assembled a 2021-22 season that covers the range of art forms, including classical music, pop, rock, jazz, theater, dance and musicals.

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The most prominent rescheduled show is the return of the Boston Pops orchestra, which was to have been the highlight of the 30th anniversary season.

“Even though a third of our 30th anniversary was canceled, we’re still celebrating,” said executive director Bill Stephen. “Of all the shows we've had at the Lied Center during my time as director, Boston Pops was one of the most celebrated and beloved. I’ve had countless people come up to me saying, ‘This is the greatest show I’ve ever attended in my life.' This will be a great show.”

Rescheduled performances include: STEP AFRIKA! Drumfolk, Great American Songbook singer Michael Feinstein, jazz singer Diane Schurr and pianist Joyce Yang. Yang had been scheduled to perform last year with the now-disbanded Aspen Santa Fe Ballet touring company. She will play a solo concert on April 18, 2022.

The season will feature Lied’s biggest ever Broadway offerings with nine touring shows and an appearance by Bernadette Peters.

Of those shows, which were previously announced and are on sale in season packages, five are rescheduled — “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical,” “Madagascar,” “The Band’s Visit” and “Come From Away.”

New Broadway offerings are “Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville,” “Riverdance,” “Jersey Boys” and “Oklahoma!”

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The classical music highlights are a pair of returnees — the St. Louis Symphony, which opened the 2019-2020 Lied season, and the Berlin Philharmonic Piano Quartet, which will perform a revised edition of Danny Elfman’s Piano Quartet that it debuted at Lied in 2018.

Jazz guitarist Pat Metheny will also be returning to Lied, this time with his group, Side Eye. Also coming back are Rock and Roll Hall of Famers The Righteous Brothers, Mannheim Steamroller with its Christmas show and the Cajun music legends BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet, which will be on its farewell tour.

The dance returnee is Pilobolus, which will be on its 50th anniversary tour. Pilobolus will be joined on Lied’s dance lineup by Stars of American Ballet.

“Their artistic director felt like, ‘Wow, New York City Ballet or American Ballet Theatre rarely get to most cities in the U.S. We'd really like them to be able to experience the finest dancers in the world. What if we were to create our own company, and do ballet’s greatest hits with the greatest dancers, take it to these communities that really want the best ballet?' He did it.”

Lil Baby coming to Lincoln

Lincoln is one such community — and one of the smallest cities on the Stars of American Ballet tour.

Playwright and actress Anna Deavere Smith, star of TV’s “The West Wing,” “Black-ish” and “Nurse Jackie” will present her new production “Notes from the Field,” a one-woman show based on more than 250 interviews she conducted with students, parents, teachers and administrators about America’s school-to-prison pipeline.

That Feb. 9 show will be preceded by a community discussion with Smith that will be part of the E.N. Thompson Forum on World Issues.

Other shows include a pair of comedic theater pieces — “A Musical About Star Wars,” from the creators of “Newsical: The Musical,” and the return of “Church Basement Ladies,” along with the returns of pianists Arnaldo Cohen and Yuja Wang, who will be performing with violinist Leonidas Kavakos.

IBEX Puppetry’s “Ajijaak on Turtle Island”; The Fab Four, a top Beatles tribute band; the return of the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain; Mnozil Brass; and the Angels Theatre Company production of “This Mortal Life Also” complete the 2021-2022 Lied lineup.

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Season subscription sales begin Wednesday at 11 a.m. Season subscribers can choose any four events and receive 10% off their order or eight or more events with a 20% discount. Individual ticket sales for shows that do not sell out in the season packages will begin Aug. 17.

Those ticket buyers have become one of the major elements that allow the Lied Center to put together a season that includes top artists and ensembles that rarely stop in flyover country or smaller cities.

“What makes Lincoln a destination has to start with the audiences, you know, audiences,” Boring said. “Audiences that show up and are really excited to see the programs. Probably 90% of the concerts we have, the artists are going, ‘This is the most receptive audience we’ve had on the whole tour.' So you end up with people like Tony Bennett doing multiple encores and world-class artists coming to Lied.”

Reach the writer at 402-473-7244 or kwolgamott@journalstar.com. On Twitter @KentWolgamott  

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Entertainment reporter/columnist

L. Kent Wolgamott, the recipient of the 2018 Mayor’s Arts Award, has written about arts and entertainment for Lincoln newspapers since 1985, reviewing thousands of movies and concerts and hundreds of art exhibitions.

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