Setting the stage: A look at the Virginia Theatre's 2018-19 schedule

Setting the stage: A look at the Virginia Theatre's 2018-19 schedule

Wow. There's almost too much to write about the Virginia Theatre's fall and spring schedule highlights. You already know that Roger Ebert's Film Festival makes April 10-14 super special. The theater has already announced "Annie" (Aug. 2-5) and Taj Mahal and the Keb' Mo' Band on Aug. 9; we'll be writing about both of them. And of course we'll be writing about Pens To Lens on Aug. 11. There are plenty of films you'll want to see, too. The Virginia has just released its 2018-19 schedule, with some surprises. Here are 10 highlights you're just hearing about, with some notes by staff writer Paul Wood.

Oct. 11

An evening with Lyle Lovett and Robert Earl Keen

These two college buddies — Texas A&M rules! —are both at their peaks, though Lyle got a bit more attention — and briefly, Julia Roberts. Lovett's 14 albums over 30 years fuse elements of Americana, swing, jazz, folk, gospel and blues. I saw him with his Large Band, jazzy, and it was incredible. With 19 albums to his name, Keen gets more recognition all the time. In 2012, he was inducted into the Texas Heritage Songwriters Hall of Fame along with his bud.

Oct. 13

The O'Jays

Original founding members Walter Williams and Eddie Levert first formed The O'Jays in 1963 in Ohio. It's one band that truly has original members. The O'Jays' first hit, the million-selling "Backstabbers" — "they smile in your face" — was followed by "Love Train" and "Use Ta Be My Girl." If you look them up, you can see they've had some tragedies in their lives — but the reviews are still full of praise. The O'Jays were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2005.

Oct. 31

Craig Ferguson

You either loved or hated him on "The Drew Carey Show." In 2005, he was given hosting duties on the "The Late Late Show," which h kept until the end of 2014. Ferguson became an American citizen in 2008 but still has that cool Scottish brogue.

Nov. 8

Rosanne Cash with John Leventhal

"She Remembers Everything," Rosanne's Cash's follow-up to her triple-Grammy-winning "The River and The Thread," is a collection of new songs to be released in October. She's writing a musical version of "Norma Rae," where you cheered on Sally Field (unless you hate unions).

Nov. 10

REO Speedwagon

If this sounds familiar, that's because the Champaign Park District rescheduled the show due to singer Kevin Cronin's illness. All tickets from the originally scheduled concert will be honored. Cronin's all better now. Let's just say the local boys know and rule the Virginia.

Nov. 28

98 Degrees at Christmas 2018

They sold 10 million records in five years and worked with Stevie Wonder, on "True to Your Heart" for the 1998 animated Disney film "Mulan." I'm so old that they're still a boy band to me. Last year, they released the Christmas album "Let It Snow," so expect a full-on Yule evening.

Dec. 6

'Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical'

You've got your Santa and Mrs. Claus, Hermey the Elf, Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster, Clarice, Yukon Cornelius and, of course, Rudolph. It's based on the animated television special we all loved as kids.

Dec. 9

Michael McDonald

Mr. Deep Voice brings his "This Christmas, An Evening of Holiday & Hits Tour" to the Virginia. From '70s-era hits like Steely Dan's "Peg" to Doobie Brothers classics such as "Takin' It To The Streets" and "It Keeps You Runnin,'" he's never stopped moving, with his voice still strong as his hair grays.

May 3-4

'Swan Lake'

The Champaign Urbana Ballet presents the story of ill-fated passion and forgiveness through beautiful choreography amid magnificent sets. The costumes are amazing. All performances include the full ballet.

May 30

'The Sandlot' (1993)

Got to have a movie pick if only because of "You're killin' me, Smalls!" S'mores will never be the same. Roger Ebert called it the summertime version of "A Christmas Story." Show up in your full baseball or softball uniform and get in free.

Topics (3):Film, Music, Theater