Hampton Arts Celebrates 30 Years

Hampton Arts Celebrates 30 Years
(Cécile McLorin Salvant is one of many eclectic performers on tap for the American Theatre’s upcoming season)

By Jeff Maisey

For its 30th anniversary, Hampton Arts glances back at some of its most popular programming while clearly looking forward.

Hampton Arts programs performing arts and film at the historic American Theatre in the Phoebus section of the city and visual art exhibitions and classes at the Charles H. Taylor Art Center.

The season kicks off on September 30 with Hampton Arts 30th Birthday Gala, “Broadway Under the Stars,” featuring television and Broadway star Megan Hilty. The American Theatre highlights include Golden Globe-nominated Tony Danza (October 27), Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Darlene Love (December 9), the first-ever Coastal Virginia Bluegrass & Brew Festival (January 26-28), GRAMMY Award-winner Cécile McLorin Salvant (February 24), iconic film star Molly Ringwald (March 24), legendary comedienne and performer Sandra Bernhard (April 28). The Charles H. Taylor Arts Center celebrates the works of Coastal Virginia artists with The Virginia Glass Guild Juried Exhibition (October 14 – December 3) and Lives of Artists with Tim O’Kane, Akiko Tanaka, Kacey  Sydnor Carneal, Walt Taylor (May 5 – June 17, 2018), among others.

Richard Parison is Hampton Arts’ artistic director, taking over for Jeff Stearn nearly two years ago. Parison was living in Richmond at the time, but also spent a lot of time in Norfolk experiencing various cultural events.

Parison has been in professional theater his entire life. He is experienced in both the administrative side of the arts business and the artistic side.

“My background is primarily in producing theater,” Parison said. “I spent a number of years at the Walnut Street Theatre and the Prince Music Theater in Philadelphia, then transitioned into a hybrid of presenting, producing, and finding a way to bring those two worlds together.”

When Parison looked over the 30 year history of Hampton Arts, one of the things he noticed was the eclectic, diverse audience mirrored by reflective programming.

“What I wanted this season, perhaps more than any, was to represent that eclecticism and to make sure we were also reaching back to some of our most successfully received artists that were here. I wanted the season to be an amalgam of some of the greatest hits from the years past, some of the new, exciting diverse that have not been on our stage, and then also implement a new initiative, which is our Broadway at the American series where we will actually be producing theater for the first time.”

The Broadway series will include “Tuesdays with Morrie” starring Jamie Farr of “M*A*S*H” (October 12),  “Million Dollar Quartet” (March 2018), and “Pump Boys” (April 2018).

Additional programming highlights include The Mystical Arts of Tibet (August 8-13), The Colors of India: A Bollywood Spectacular (October 21), Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo (February 3), and The Blind Boys of Alabama (February 17).

Full schedule is below.




Hampton Arts 30th Birthday Gala: Broadway Under the Stars featuring Megan Hilty
Tony Award nominee Megan Hilty performs a one-night only concert in celebration of Hampton Arts’ 30th Anniversary. The Television, Stage and Recording star’s Broadway credits include WickedNoises Off, and 9 to 5 as well as a lead role on NBC’s Smash. Additionally, Hampton Arts and Hampton Arts Foundation will honor Ross and Martha Mugler and POMOCO with the Coastal Virginia Renaissance Award, recognizing their long-term commitment to the performing and visual arts in Hampton and Coastal Virginia.September 30, 2017



Sweet Honey in the Rock — Feel the rhythm and hear the soulful sounds of the GRAMMY-nominated Sweet Honey in the Rock as the all-female performance ensemble explores African American musical genres including blues, spirituals, traditional gospel hymns, reggae, African chants, hip-hop, and jazz improvisation. October 7, 2017

Festival of South African Dance — The rhythms of South Africa come alive with the Festival of South African Dance’s pulsating production of Gumboots — Stimela the Musical, a dance masterpiece that follows the tale of rural African men who come by train from all walks of life in search of greener pastures in the city of gold, Johannesburg. October 14, 2107

The Colors of India: A Bollywood Spectacular — This world-renowned production features brilliant dancers, breathtaking aerialists and acrobats, live musicians, and opulent costumes. Expect an explosion of color and energy as the ensemble takes you on a celebratory journey through India and a progression
of Bollywood films via a stunning display that fuses dance, theater, and spectacular special effects. October 21, 2017

Tony Danza: Standards and Stories — Stage and screen star Tony Danza pays tribute to the legendary Great American Songbook in a musical evening packed with wit, charm, storytelling, and a dash
of soft shoe and ukulele! Known for his starring roles on two of television’s most cherished series, Taxi and Who’s the Boss?, Danza is also a terrific song and dance man and will perform some of his favorite songs while interweaving stories about his life and personal connection to music. October 27, 2017

The Second City: The Cure for the Common Comedy — Chicago’s legendary sketch and improv comedy theater brings The Cure for The Common Comedy to Hampton. November 4, 2017

Presidio Brass: Sounds of the Cinema — Prepare for a sweeping musical journey through Hollywood unlike anything you’ve heard before. Representing a bold new generation in brass entertainment, Presidio Brass’s unique arrangements have wowed audiences worldwide. November 11, 2017

An Evening of Smooth Jazz: Nick Colionne & Vincent Ingala — Two jazz greats take to the stage for one incredible evening. Multi award-winner
Nick Colionne’s guitar skills push musical boundaries and make him one of the most in-demand urban jazz musicians in the country. A multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer, Vincent Ingala has blasted into an exciting stratosphere of his own making. November 17, 2017

Lightwire Theater: A Very Electric Christmas — Audiences of all ages will be captivated
by Lightwire Theater’s dazzling visuals
and unique menagerie of characters that magically appear out of the darkness. Combining the arts of puppetry, theater and dance with the music of timeless holiday hits, this magical and captivating tale of family, friendship and hope creates a truly one-of-a-kind and exhilarating holiday experience. December 2, 2017

A Darlene Love Christmas: Love for the Holidays — The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee will bring holiday cheer to The American Theatre with songs that span her celebrated career in the music industry. From her early days as part of Phil Spector’s wall of sound hit factory to Broadway roles in Hairspray and Grease and a subject in the Academy Award-winning film, 20 Feet From Stardom, Love will rock the house with her warm, gracious stage presence and superb performance. December 9, 2017

Sonny Knight & The Lakers — Are you ready for some soul? Sonny
Knight’s unconventional life path informs a powerhouse evening of music as he and The Lakers, his seven-piece band, create a sound that extends much deeper than throwback soul. January 13, 2018

Tony DeSare Jazz Trio — Join a celebration of great music filled with joy, playfulness and virtuoso musicality. DeSare is introducing jazz standards and the Great American Songbook to a new generation with robust arrangements backed by guitar and bass, smooth vocals and agile piano skills. January 19, 2018

Coastal Virginia Bluegrass & Brew Festival: January 26 – 28, 2018
For the first time, The American Theatre welcomes a trio of legendary, genre-defining bluegrass acts and some of Coastal Virginia’s best local breweries. See all three concerts and sample some of the best breweries Hampton Roads has to offer:

The Whiskey Rebellion — Skillful picking and expert three-part harmonies are just part of what you can expect from these high-energy showmen! January 26
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Bluegrass Band — Imagine the music of the Fab Four shaken up with infusions of bluegrass and jazz and topped off with a classical twist. January 27
The Crooked Road on Tour — Experience firsthand how music is woven into the rich tapestry of tradition in Southwest Virginia through old-time string bands, a cappella gospel, blues, 300-year- old ballads, bluegrass, and more. January 28

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo — Established as a major dance phenomenon around the world, this hilarious and talented all-male comedic company has appeared in over 30 countries. Affectionately known as “the Trocks,” the troupe’s repertoire includes a full range of ballet and modern dance performed in faithful renditions. February 3, 2018

The Blind Boys of Alabama — The original members first sang together as kids at
the Alabama Institute for the Negro Blind
in the 1930s and have flourished over the decades with a unique sound that blends the close harmonies of early jubilee gospel with the more fervent improvisations of hard gospel. Today, the GRAMMY Award-winning group draws from a variety of musical genres, including music by Tom Waits and The Rolling Stones. February 17, 2018

Cécile McLorin Salvant — The GRAMMY Award-winner’s natural curiosity for the history of American music and the connections between jazz, vaudeville, blues, and folk music, informs Salvant’s unique performance style, which often includes rarely recorded, forgotten songs with strong stories. February 24, 2018

Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery — Laughter is “elementary my dear Watson.” Ken Ludwig’s acclaimed adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic mystery, The Hound
of the Baskervilles, is full of intrigue and laughs. Five actors play 40 quirky characters, and venture deep into a world filled with disguises, silly accents and murderous deceit. March 2, 2018

The Revelers — With origins that came out of New Orleans, Memphis and Detroit in the 1950s, The Revelers embrace this unstoppable sound and add their own special mix of Cajun, Country, Blues and Zydeco into a powerful tonic of Roots Music. March 17, 2018


An Evening with Molly Ringwald — A Golden Globe-nominated actress for generation-defining performances in The Breakfast ClubPretty in Pink, and Sixteen Candles, Molly Ringwald gives a fresh spin on American Songbook standards and pops classics like nobody else, with a smile and charm that has illuminated hundreds of venues throughout the world. March 24, 2018

Sandra Monica Blvd.: Coast to Coast — Sandra Bernhard wears many hats: comedian, chanteuse, actress, and Sirius/XM radio host… but one thing that ties them
all together is her brand
of humor that is uniquely Sandy. In her latest show, she’ll take you on a journey to find America’s soul while weaving in a soundtrack “that you might hear on an AM radio station you pick
up from Oklahoma.” April 28, 2018

An Evening of Smooth Jazz: Marion Meadows & Marc Antoine — Two jazz greats come together for one spectacularly smooth evening. Meadows’ latest album, Soul Traveler, combines the intoxicating sounds of smooth jazz, fusion, and contemporary jazz. Keeping his deep melodic flow and exotic melodic textures front and center, Antoine has established himself as a global star in contemporary jazz. May 5, 2018

Tuesdays with Morrie Starring Jamie Farr — Filled with humor and humanity, Tuesdays with Morrie is the autobiographical story of Mitch Albom, an accomplished journalist driven solely by his career, and Morrie Schwartz, his former college professor. BringingTuesdays with Morrie to life is acclaimed actor Jamie Farr, beloved by television viewers for his role on the award- winning television series, M*A*S*HOctober 12, 2017

Million Dollar Quartet — Imagine rock ‘n’ roll icons Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins all in a recording session together. That’s exactly what happened on December 4, 1956, when these four legendary musicians gathered at Sun Studios in Memphis for what is considered one of the greatest jam sessions of all time. This Tony Award-winning, hit Broadway musical is inspired by that true story and features including “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Fever,” “Great Balls of Fire,” “Walk the Line,” “Hound Dog” and more.March 29, 2018

Pump Boys and Dinettes  Produced by Hampton Arts and 5th Wall Theatre Company. This Tony Award-nominated musical pays tribute to the sounds of the Grand Ole Opry. The ‘Pump Boys’ work hard on Highway 57, while ‘Dinettes’ Prudie and Rhetta Cupp run the Double Cupp diner next door. With heartbreak and hilarity, these versatile performers kick up their heels on guitars, piano, bass and, yes, even kitchen utensils! April 13-15 and April 20-22, 2018

Ella at 100  — Celebrating the 100th birthday of Ella Fitzgerald, a native of Newport News, Award-winning jazz artist and Virginia Native, Desirée Roots brings to life Ella’s
most noted songs. Joining her on stage will be Scott Wichmann as Frank Sinatra, Billy Dye as Louis Armstrong, and Anthony Cosby as Nat “King” Cole. February 25, 2018

Hampton Roads Philharmonic
Totentanz & Brahms’ Symphony No. 2 — To celebrate its fifth Anniversary, the Hampton Roads Philharmonic
kicks off its season with an energetic and dramatic program of Berlioz, Liszt and Brahms. October 15, 2017
Winter Classics & Holiday Favorites — Join the Hampton Roads Philharmonic for a winter-themed classical program with a pops-style twist. December 10, 2017
Young Artist Showcase Competition Performance — Mendelssohn’s concert overture, “The Hebrides,” opens the program. The winner of the orchestra’s 2nd Annual Young Artist Competition will also be featured. The orchestra will perform Haydn’s festive “London” Symphony No. 104 to close out the concert. March 11, 2018

Riddick Dance
The King Project — In collaboration, choreographers David Riddick and Marshall Swiney are creating a full evening of multimedia dance theater collage. The performance is in commemoration of
Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” and “I’ve Been to the Mountain Top” speeches and letter from Birmingham jail. October 20, 2017
MINDZ — MINDZ has the power to send natural vibration through the earth, which causes people to come from around the world. Join us and celebrate MINDZ. This creation of movement belongs to all of us. March 23, 2018

Songwriters Collaborative — These jam sessions promise to provide a supportive opportunity for anyone with a desire to work on their songwriting skills or to explore an urge to try songwriting for the first time. October 17, 2017; January 13, March 17, and May 5, 2018

The Rocky Horror Picture Show  — Audiences will “Time Warp” back to the 1970s and shimmy the night away to the voices of Magenta, Frank-N-Furter & Riff Raff on the American Theatre’s silver screen. October 26, 2017

Disney’s The Lion King Experience — The Hurrah Players bring the African savanna to majestic life with Simba, Rafiki, Mufasa and an unforgettable cast of characters as they journey to the jungle and back again in this dazzling adventure celebrating the inescapable circle of life. October 28, 2017

Saturday Morning Club – NEW OFFERING!
Fun for the whole family! From sing-a-longs and fairy tales to juggling like you’ve never seen before, Saturday mornings have never been more entertaining. 

Silly Bus — Silly Bus offers a fun-filled morning of radio-friendly children’s music perfect for kindergarten through second grade students. With lyrics that cover educational topics and different musical styles, Silly Bus will have kids singing
along in no time!November 18, 2017
 Little Red & The Gingerbread Man — Two tales rolled into one! Join Barefoot Puppet’s Little Red as she pursues a mischievous Gingerbread cookie through the woods to   Grandma’s house. January 20, 2018
 Magic with Mark Nizer — World-class juggler and comedian Mark Nizer incorporates amazing technology with special 4D glasses for a live performance that will mesmerize audiences with his world-renowned skills. April 7, 2018

The Mystical Arts of Tibet — A week of reflection and inspiration as Tibetan monks create a sand-painted mandala, used as a tool for re-consecrating the earth and its inhabitants. The sand mandala will be deconstructed during the closing ceremony, and sand will be distributed to the audience and a nearby body of water. Various events, August 8 – 13, 2017
Tibetan Meditations for Anxiety & Stress — In this three-hour intensive workshop, Geshe Logsang Tenzin Negi, Ph.D., will explore Tibetan Meditations for eliminating          and reducing stress and anxiety in challenging times. August 12, 2017

SOULCollage® — Developed by Seena Frost, SOULCollage® is a creative process that allows participants to access intuition, deep inner wisdom and healing by creating small, focused cards using images from magazines and other media. October 14, 2017; March 10, 2018

ART of Daily Living — Workshops are a combination of mindfulness practice, artistic creativity, and energy renewal infused with art and conversation. November 11, 2017; April 21, 2018

A Gentle Approach to Yoga — Piary Sobhan takes
a gradual approach that gently explores pain-free range of motion to catalyze the many benefits of yoga for body, mind, and spirit. October 4 – December 6, 2017; January 10 – May 23, 2018

Your Authentic Voice & The Power of Story — Part performance, part conversation, The Power of Story is a look at how the stories we repeat to one another and the ones we come to believe in shape the lens through which we understand the world. Join Brian Andreas (master storyteller and creator of StoryPeople) and Fia Skye (actress and teacher of whole body/whole voice), for a lively evening that will challenge you to create towards the life you want to live.
Community Conversation – February 16, 2018
The Power of Story Retreat – February 17, 2018

For more than 60 years the historic building in downtown Hampton served as the city’s library. Built by Mrs. Grace Taylor Armstrong in honor of her father, it was meticulously restored and renovated, opening in 1989 as The Charles H. Taylor Arts Center to showcase the work of artists from throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia and the Mid-Atlantic region.

“The two main roles of an arts center are presenting visual art exhibitions
and programs in art education,” said Gallery Manager James Warwick Jones. “This coming year will continue many of Hampton Arts’ educational programs as well as classes and workshops with new instructors and media and a new program with Hampton City Schools, called Artists in the Schools, bringing visiting master artists in our community into the high school art classes.”

Virginia Artists 2017 Juried Exhibition  — This annual competition, one of the largest and most comprehensive in the state, will showcase the talents of many
of Virginia’s best artists and craftsmen. It features more than 115 artworks including drawing, printmaking, painting, photography, crafts, watercolor, mixed media, and sculpture. August 19 – October 8, 2017

Kristin Skees — Mother/Artist: Photographs, Sculpture and Installations  The show will feature photography, sculpture and installation, and relies on the absurd humor found in Kristin Skees’ previous works. This exhibition is a result of her Best in Show Award in Virginia Artists 2016 Juried exhibition. August 19 – October 8, 2017

Virginia Glass Guild Juried Exhibition 2017 — This 30th annual juried exhibition presents the many forms of glass created by members of the Virginia Glass Guild, a membership organization of glass artists working all across the state of Virginia. This exhibition offers a wide range of creative glass processes, including blown, carved, cast, painted, flame-worked, fused, leaded, neon, sandblasted, and stained glass. October 14 – December 3, 2017

Suzanne Peterson — De-tached: New Work — Peterson’s newest works are experimentally blown forms that attempt to highlight our inability to fully share with another. The exhibition is a result of her Best in Show Award in the 2016 VGG Exhibition. October 14 – December 3, 2017

Miniatures and Small Works by Tidewater Artists — Over 250 artists living in Coastal Virginia will be invited to create miniature or small artworks in any media. Media represented will include drawing, painting, watercolor, pastel, printmaking, photography, sculpture, and crafts. December 9, 2017 – January 21, 2018

Hampton Arts League Open Members Exhibition 2018 — This annual exhibition features artwork by many of the over 350 Hampton Arts League Members in all media, including drawing, painting, printmaking, photography, crafts, sculpture, and watercolor. Artworks in a wide range of styles, content, and sensibilities will be included. January 27 – March 11, 2018

Artists Who Teach Juried Exhibition 2018 — In addition to teaching artists from the four peninsula colleges and universities, as well as its public, private, and parochial schools, the art departments from
six southside colleges, universities and art institutes have also been invited to participate. March 17 – April 29, 2018

Barbara Stephenson: Wrapped, Stacked and Rooted — Best in Show Winner in Artists Who Teach 2017, Stephenson
is featured in this one person show of drawings in a variety of media which she describes as “Visual metaphors that allow me to share very personal events, creating a portrait of myself.” March 17 – April 29, 2018

The Lives of Artists — This series of exhibitions highlights the artwork of four diverse artists, who have each spent several decades in their own personal art journeys. May 5 – June 17, 2018

Tim O’Kane: Retrospective Five Decades/A Devotion to Realism — Using drawing as an artistic foundation, O’Kane has pursued life-long project of making representational art.
Akiko Tanaka: Evolutions Clay Sculpture — Tanaka’s work is a combination of traditional Japanese hand-building and modern influences.
Kacey Sydnor Carneal: This is Called Happiness — Kacey Sydnor Carneal is largely self-taught and paints colorful and patterned filled works, often with a significant message or depicting personal episodes from her life.
Works by Walt Taylor: My Sketchy Life — A master of many media, Taylor’s works are not to be missed and will appear in three different exhibitions throughout the year.

Graphic Design in Coastal Virginia —A few of the many categories of graphic design included in this exhibit include advertising, cartooning, illustration, logos, package design, print design, signage, typography, video design and web design. June 23 – August 12, 2018