Hopkins Center’s summer schedule includes a trio of jazz icons, the return of the free, family-friendly Free For All series of concerts and movies, and an unusually rich line-up of new and developing theatrical works, including a rare chance to peer inside the creative process of one of today’s most interesting American dancemakers, choreographer Kyle Abraham. The Hop summer shows went on sale on June 1.
In addition, the Spaulding and Loew auditorium screens will show a mix of great movies and HD-video broadcasts—and the public is invited to a fun, festive launch of the Hop’s 2016-2017 season on Thursday, July 14.
The lineup includes three jazz artists of the highest order: the Chick Corea Trio, on Thursday, July 28, featuring an impeccable acoustic threesome of Corea on piano, bassist Christian McBride and drummer Brian Blade, at 8 pm in Spaulding Auditorium.
With 22 Grammy Awards and an insatiable musical curiosity that’s kept him on the forefront of jazz for 50 years, Corea leads an acoustic trio of stunning creativity and sensitivity, with bassist Christian McBride (whose collaborators include Sting, Pat Metheny and McCoy Tyner), one of the most outstanding talents and celebrated musicians of his generation; and drummer extraordinaire Brian Blade (Herbie Hancock, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and the Wayne Shorter Quartet). This is the same ensemble immortalized on the double-Grammy-winning three-CD set Trilogy.
Regrettably, a concert by vocal improvisor extraordinaire Bobby McFerrin scheduled for August 17 has been canceled, as the artist has cancelled all summer 2016 touring as he undergoes treatment for a medical condition. The Hop Box Office has informed ticketholders of the cancellation and their options for a refund, credit or Hopkins Center donation.
Free For All features three diverse, danceable, unbelievably “feel-good” bands, performing outdoors on the Dartmouth Green at 5:30 pm (or, in case of rain, in Spaulding Auditorium): Red Baraat, on Thursday, June 23, mixing North Indian banghra drumming with funky, jazzy horns and guitar; Sonny Knight & The Lakers, on Thursday, July 7, with veteran R&B singer Knight leading a crackling band channeling the soul of Aretha and James Brown; and De Temps Antan, on Thursday, August 4, playing and singing a driving, high-energy version of traditional Québecois music. Red Baraat and De Temps Antan both have performed previously at the Hop, while Knight et al will make their Hop debut.
All three events will be preceded by free all-ages arts activities in the Hop’s Courtyard Cafe, from 4:30 to 5:15 pm the day of the show. Before Red Baraat, come try out some of the world’s various drums and percussion instruments in a “Percussion Petting Zoo” hosted by World Music Percussion Ensemble Director and master West African drummer Hafiz Shabazz. Before Sonny Knight, make simple crafts in a “makerspace” tent hosted by the Hop’s Woodworking and Jewelry workshops. Before De Temps Antan, let Revels North Artistic Director Nils Fredland—one of Vermont’s most irresistible dance callers—teach you the basics of Québécois stepdancing in a fun, accessible workshop.
Two free, family-friendly films fill out the Free For All roster, at 6:30 pm in Spaulding Auditorium: Finding Nemo (2003), on Thursday, July 21, an animated feature about a plucky clownfish and his devoted dad; and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971), the endearing musical starring Gene Wilder as the sweet but inscrutable chocolate mogul determining which children do and don’t morally measure up.
Summer would not be summer at the Hop without a steady offering of new and developing theater, a practice that began 25 years ago with the first Dartmouth summer residency by New York Theatre Workshop, this summer taking place Saturdays, August 6, 13 and 20, with presentations at 4 and 7:30 pm in the Warner Bentley Theater. As usual, all are welcome in the Bentley each preceding Tuesday at noon for an informal open discussion with the artists who will be presenting shows at the end of that week.
That first summer included a workshop version of a show that went on to become the mega-hit musical Rent, and NYTW has come back every summer since to work on plays and musicals that might or might not go on to wider fame. This summer brings back theater artists from previous summers such as director Ed Sylvanus Iskandar (Stuck Elevator, 2015) and playwright/director Aaron Mark (Another Medea, 2013, and Squeamish, 2015), and introduces Hop audiences to artists like Nigerian-American playwright Mfoniso Udofia, Norwegian theater/dance phenomenon Alan Lucien Øyen and Broadway actress (leads in A Streetcar Named Desire, Les Miserables, original cast of Rent) Daphne Rubin-Vega, in a hilarious solo autobiographical show about her multi-ethnic New York/show business upbringing.
As has also been true in past summers, new and developing plays are also on view during VoxFest—a free showcase of innovative new projects by recent Dartmouth alumni, Sunday, July 3, through Friday, July 8—and the Frost-Dodd Play Student Festival, with readings and full productions of three prize-winning student works, Friday-Sunday, July 29-31.
This summer offers an added experience in seeing theater made with a residency by MacArthur “genius” choreographer Kyle Abraham, in which he and his internationally renowned dance company, Abraham.In.Motion, will interact with groups of students and community members to develop ideas for a work-in-progress that will have its world premiere at the Hop in fall 2017. While the working groups will be private, the public is invited to Dearest Home, a free work-in-progress presentation with which the residency concludes, on Friday, July 1, 7 pm, in The Moore Theater.
On Hop screens this summer, in addition to the two free movies, there will be a full schedule of new and classic films each weekend, with a Sunday series titled A Fine Mess: The Screwball Comedy, a series curated by Film & Media Studies Prof. Noah Isenberg, who will introduce several of the features. HD video transmissions—high-definition big-screen images with rich “surround-sound” audio delivery—include an encore screening of NT Live’s Hamlet with Benedict Cumberbatch (Friday, June 24); Branagh Theatre Live’s Romeo and Juliet (Saturday, August 20); two visual arts presentations from the “Exhibition on Screen” series, The Impressionists (Sunday, July 10) and Renoir: Revered and Reviled (Sunday, July 31); and Elvis Costello: Detour Live at Liverpool Philharmonic Hall (Saturday, July 23).