CHAMPAIGN — Country music star Lyle Lovett and His Large Band will kick off the Virginia Theatre performing arts season in early September.
Other major acts slated to appear include comedians Bill Cosby, Mike Birbiglia and the famed Second City comedy troupe. Also on tap: Straight No Chaser, an a cappella group that originated in 1996 at Indiana University.
Many movies are in store as well, including "Life Itself," the documentary about Roger Ebert that opens nationally in theaters on Friday.
The Virginia will screen the Steve James documentary about the world's most famous movie critic at 7 p.m. July 28-Aug. 1. "Life Itself" also will be shown starting July 11 at the Art Theater Co-op in Champaign.
Tickets to the Virginia's screenings of the film, based on Ebert's best-selling memoir of the same title, are $5 and go on sale at 10 a.m. Thursday.
Other highlights of the season:
— Sept. 17: Birbiglia, "Thank God for Jokes Tour." The award-winning comedian, author and filmmaker will return with his signature, painfully awkward stories in a show about jokes, and how they can get you in trouble. (Tickets: $45 and $35, on sale now).
— Sept. 20: Brit Beat, touted as "America's premier tribute to The Beatles." (Tickets: $18 to $45 for VIPs).
— Dec. 10: Straight No Chaser's Happy Hour Tour, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 10. (Tickets: $49.50 and $39.50).
— Feb. 21: The Second City Hits Home tour. (Tickets: $18 to $45).
— April 11: The legendary Cosby will bring his "Far From Finished" tour for two performances, at 4 and 8 p.m. April 11. (Tickets: $39 to $69).
Other movie news
— On Aug. 9, the Champaign Urbana Film Society and Champaign Park District will present the second annual Pens to Lens Student Screenwriting Competition gala screening — first at 2 p.m., then at 5.
Pens to Lens invites K-12 students to write and submit original screenplays. Local filmmakers turn the best ones into short films.
— For the first time since the park district acquired the Virginia in 2000, a season subscription option will be available for some of the major events. Those will go on sale at 10 a.m. July 18. Season subscribers will receive discounts on select tickets, along with other benefits.
— Individual tickets for many of the 2014-15 season's shows, including Lovett's, go on sale at 10 a.m. Aug. 8. Those are $39.50, $49.50 and $58.50.
Three things to hear
With the release of the season schedule at the Virginia Theatre, we asked online editor MIKE HOWIE to list the three numbers he'd love to hear:
1. Lyle Lovett: "My Baby Don't Tolerate." Great bluesy tune. Best line: "I said hello honey, how have you been. She said what could you possibly have been doing until half past then. And not being completely insensitive I could tell my ship had run aground."
2. Bill Cosby: "Noah." Instant recall to my childhood. Best line: "Noah ... How long can you tread water?"
3. Mike Birbiglia: "Joey Bag o' Donuts." If you have a big brother, this might just be about you. Best line: (In tough Boston accent) "Joey Bag o' Donuts? Your brother's Joey Bag o' Donuts?"