It’s official: The new Hancher is a phenomenal space. With a facility so impressive, all that was left to do was fill it with performers of equal caliber — and with the announcement of their upcoming 2016–17 season today, the Hancher programming team (including executive director Chuck Swanson and programming director Jacob Yarrow) have done just that. The season is a fantastic blend of styles and genres including comedy, dance, music, several commissions and the return of Broadway touring productions to Iowa City. The full schedule is below.
The season begins on Sep. 16, with a jazz-filled, joyous outdoor celebration of the facility’s opening, featuring the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue. It’s a fun circling back to the Hancher’s origins — the Preservation Hall Jazz Band was the very first touring act to play Hancher, back in 1972. The first performers inside the new space, however, will be two legends of comedy: Steve Martin and Martin Short. The renowned comic actors will be taking the stage, along with Martin’s band Steep Canyon Rangers, for the Opening Gala on Sep. 24.
Kicking off Hancher’s Broadway offerings on Oct. 11 is The Book of Mormon, the hilarious Tony and Grammy Award-winner from South Park‘s Trey Parker and Matt Stone and Robert Lopez (Avenue Q, Frozen). Also traveling through are a new production of The Sound of Music and the final tour of MAMA MIA!
In addition to the main stage, Hancher boasts a second, more intimate venue in its Strauss Hall. Five events will take place there over the course of the year. Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq will be in concert with the film Nanook of the North, creating a fascinating conversation. A dance piece titled Soil, co-created by University of Iowa professor Michael Sakamoto, will be presented there in February. The Man Who Planted Trees, from the Puppet State Theatre Company of Scotland, will be the inaugural event in that space, running Oct. 2–6. Performances from Laurie Lewis and the Right Hands and the Fred Hersch Trio round out those offerings.
As in past years, the new works commissioned by Hancher will be a cornerstone of the season. The first one of the year, on Oct. 20, will be The Migration: Reflections of Jacob Lawrence, from the dance company Step Afrika! Pianist Emanuel Ax, who assisted the Hancher in choosing the new piano for the space, will perform a new work by Samuel Carl Adams on Dec. 6. The season’s other commissions are The Day by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer (and UI alum) David Lang, written for and performed by cellist Maya Beiser and Pomp, Brass, and Lunacy! featuring Tomáš Kubínek with Orchestra Iowa, University Choirs and trombonist Wycliffe Gordon.
The full 2016–17 season also includes a variety of culinary events, a collaboration with the Mission Creek Festival and, of course, much more music, dance and performance. Tickets for the season go on sale June 10, excepting The Book of Mormon, which goes on sale Aug. 5.
9, 11 Hancher Open Houses
16 Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue and Preservation Hall Jazz Band
24 Steve Martin and Martin Short, An Evening You’ll Forget for the Rest of Your Life
29 David Sanborn Electric Band
2, 5, 6 Puppet State Theatre Company of Scotland, The Man Who Planted Trees
8 Renée Fleming
11–16 The Book of Mormon
20 Step Afrika!, The Migration: Reflections of Jacob Lawrence
27 Maya Beiser, The Day
28 Laurie Lewis and the Right Hands
5 Pomp, Brass, and Lunacy!
Tomáš Kubínek, Wycliffe Gordon, Orchestra Iowa, and University Choirs
11 Chucho Valdés Joe Lovano Quintet
1–4 The Joffrey Ballet, The Nutcracker
6 Emanuel Ax
9 Asleep at the Wheel, Merry Texas Christmas Y’all!
20 The Cleveland Orchestra
27 Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion
31 The Sound of Music
1–5 The Sound of Music
11 The Ying Quartet with Billy Childs
16 Tanya Tagaq in concert with Nanook of the North
25–26 MAMMA MIA!
3–4 Circus Oz
5 Yo–Yo Ma
9 Las Cafeteras
23 Jessica Lang Dance
25 The Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra
30 David J. Skorton
4–9 Mission Creek Festival collaboration
14–15 Fred Hersch Trio
4 /peh-LO-tah/ by Marc Bamuthi Joseph