Whether it's plays, musicals or symphony music, Danville will have plenty to choose from for the 2008-09 season. And the local performing-arts groups welcome season ticket-holders as well as single-show- and concert-goers.
The Danville Symphony Orchestra features Danville musicians as well as professional and student musicians from Illinois and Indiana.
The orchestra's programs are selected by its artist advisory committee with input from Jeremy Swerling, symphony conductor and music director, and Jennifer Dixson, executive director, who is exposed to information on various individuals and groups through conferences that promote those who perform with orchestras.
Barbara Lewis heads up the advisory committee.
"We have a very experienced and eclectic group. The depth and breadth of their knowledge is so helpful," Lewis said of the committee. "Decisions are made on what is available, where the artist has been and where they are going, with a focus, always, on classical. We do recognize that our audience is now expanding, and we want to bring the best in entertainment to perform with the symphony."
Lewis said the committee has a lot more at its disposal today than committees did just a few years ago.
"They send you demos, you can see them online and some of our members travel to different venues, see someone extraordinary for us to keep in mind," Lewis explained. "Ideas don't necessarily become old. Someone suggested three years ago may now be available and fit perfectly into the year we are currently scheduling."
Lewis said they are grateful for audience feedback, too.
"We had a great December show, but people wanted to know, 'Where was the Christmas music?'" she said. "Also, we all love to have hometown people come back to perform. Whether it's the winner of Harry and Gail Adams Youth Concerto Competition or someone from the Young Artists Group, everyone seems to love to watch and hear the people coming up the performance ladder."
This season kicks off with a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Benny Goodman. The Dave Bennett Sextet's "Tribute to Benny Goodman" opens the season Oct. 4. Goodman, nicknamed the King of Swing, made his reputation in the 1930s as the first jazz artist to perform in Carnegie Hall.
"Christmas with Maureen McGovern" will bring "The Morning After" vocalist to the stage for the Christmas music audiences wanted to hear on Dec. 13.
The "Classical Masterworks" guest is cellist Alexandre Bouzlov on March 14, 2009. Bouzlov has won multiple medals in international competitions and performed with U.S. symphonies as well as abroad.
Winding up the season is "With Strings Attached." Banjoist Buddy Wachter will bring the fast picking of this instrument to a new venue, classical music, on May 9, 2009.
Danville's musical community theater group, Danville Light Opera, will keep its tradition of two theater productions and a dinner with show again this season.
"As a board, we make our selections, based on the recommendations of our reading committee, with an emphasis on what we feel will be of interest to our audiences as well as appeal to a prospective cast," said Tom Fricke, board treasurer. "We are very excited about this year's combination."
"My Fair Lady" this fall as well as "Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect up?" in the spring have each been produced by the group only one other time. The dinner theater production of "Cabaret" is a first for Danville Light Opera.
Auditions for "My Fair Lady" are set for 6:30 p.m. Aug. 24 and 25 at DLO Center Stage in the Steve & Barry's wing of the Village Mall, 2917 N. Vermilion St.
"We think we've got a good variety of very good shows lined up," Fricke said. "And we hope to see a great turnout as always."
Normally, Red Mask Players presents two comedies with a more serious production sandwiched in between each year. Its reading committee reads a huge number of plays to narrow down for board consideration.
"They probably read two to three dozen plays, then recommend nine to 12 to the rest of the board," said Bob Hous, Red Mask board president.
The 11-member board does its best to tackle reading the recommendations and then they vote.
"It's funny; on the first ballot, we usually kick out half of them," Hous said. "This year, on the second ballot, it was almost unanimous. All three were like 10 to 1 or 9 to 2."
This year, all three story lines feature funny dialogue mixed with poignant moments.
"The mix makes them attractive to audiences," Hous said. "The year we did 'Flaming Idiots,' sales just caught fire. Word of mouth was our best advertising. It's great to see standing-room-only shows."
The group is also producing two one-act plays this year, which it considered a way for people to get their feet wet in community theater.
"They didn't have to learn a full script and just see if they like doing theater," Hous explained. "We also hoped people who have thought about directing would look at something short the same way."
"The Actor's Nightmare" and "Wanda's Visit" by Christopher Durang take the stage at 8 p.m. Aug. 22 and 23 at the Kathryn Randolph Theater, 601 N. Vermilion St. Tickets are $5 per person and will be sold at the door.
Each group will offer season ticket sales first before those for individual shows or concerts, which may be offered all at once or just prior to the show's presentation.
Season ticket holders receive various perks for their commitment, which vary from group to group but include such things as reserved seating, early seating selection, program listings, eligibility to vote for acting awards and invitations to special events.