The season won’t kick off until Wynton Marsalis takes the stage with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra on Sept. 24, but fans and supporters of the performing arts won’t want to wait until then to buy their tickets for the 2014-15 season at the Lied Center of Kansas.
The season has about everything local audiences could want: big names, chamber music, Broadway standards, some returning favorites and some emerging new talents. Certain productions, like “Wild Kratts — Live!” will be of special interest to youngsters, but those shows also will appeal to adult audiences.
Some shows — Brasil Guitar Duo and KODO drummers, for instance — have an international flair, but this season also shines the spotlight on some noted performers with local credentials. Mandy Patinkin, who attended Kansas University, will headline “Mandy Patinkin: Dress Casual” as part of the Broadway series, but the season also includes a grouping called Jayhawk Live to showcase current KU talents. KU Jazz Ensemble I and the KU Symphony Orchestra will play concerts with featured soloists, and retired theater professor Jack Wright will perform “The Sage of Emporia,” his one-man show of William Allen White.
This is the first season for Jayhawk Live and the Lied Center’s first season with a executive director, Derek Kwan, who has brought impressive energy to the job. Although much of the 2014-15 season was set before former director Tim Van Leer left his post in December, Kwan already has made his mark. It probably isn’t a coincidence that the season’s opening act comes from Jazz at Lincoln Center, where Kwan previously served as vice president of concerts and touring.
Fourteen VIP sponsors have provided the financial support to help the Lied Center attract top performers for the upcoming season. The Friends of the Lied also provides important support for Lied Center performances, as well as educational programs that take artists into area schools.
In fact, this might be a good time to consider joining the Friends of the Lied because its members can start buying tickets for the upcoming season right now instead of waiting until ticket packages go on sale to the public on May 19.
In a world that’s increasingly dominated by electronic media, there’s still nothing like live performing arts, and Lawrence is privileged to have a venue like the Lied Center. Twenty-seven individuals and groups ranging from Pilobolus Dance Theater to the Vienna Boys Choir are on this year’s bill of fare. Now is a great time to look at the schedule and reserve your seats.