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Jul 26, 2014

Big names highlight new Peace Center season

July 26, 2014

Paul Hyde, The Greenville News - 10:17 p.m. EDT July 26, 2014

Several newcomers and more than a dozen audience favorites will round out the Peace Center's 2014-15 season. 

Among the debuts this season will be singing sensation Susan Boyle, celebrity chef Alton Brown, teen vocalist Jackie Evancho, comedian Ron White and the innovative Martha Graham Dance Company. 

Returning performers include raconteur Garrison Keillor, Broadway great Audra McDonald, commedienne Kathy Griffin and singers Natalie Cole and Kenny Rogers.

"It's a very eclectic season, which is really what we're loooking for because one thing we realize is that in Greenville we have a great, eclectic audience," said Peace Center President Megan Riegel. "It's a well-balanced season. I do believe there's something in there for everybody."

In an exclusive interview with The Greenville News, Riegel discussed the season's 22 acts, joining the seven previously announced shows on the performing arts venue's Broadway Series.

An additional half dozen or more performers will be announced throughout the season.

Boyle, the Scottish singer who burst onto the international scene in 2009 when she appeared as a contestant on the TV program "Britain's Got Talent," will come to the Peace Center on Oct. 27 as part of her first solo American tour.

"We're so excited that we were able to get her during her first North American tour," Riegel said. "She'll sound spectacular in the Concert Hall."

Brown, the Food Network star, will bring his brand of quirky humor and culinary expertise to the Peace Center on Oct. 22.

Evancho, 14, a breakout star on "America's Got Talent" who went on to become the biggest selling debut artist of 2011, will perform at the Peace Center on Feb. 22.

"She has one of the most mature voices I've ever heard coming out of a young girl," Riegel said. 

White, who shot to stardom as part of the "Blue Collar Comedy Tour," will come to Greenville on Oct. 22. White's offbeat take on modern life and growing up in small-town Texas has resulted in 14 million albums sold and two Grammy nominations.

The season opens on Sept. 16 with a concert by Keb' Mo', the three-time Grammy winner and modern master of American roots music.

Another Peace Center debut, on April 7, will be the BBC Concert Orchestra, under the direction of Keith Lockhart. A Furman University graduate and frequent visitor to Greenville, Lockhart last season brought the Boston Pops to the Peace Center and two years ago conducted the BBC Concert Orchestra at Furman's McAlister Auditorium. On this visit, the orchestra will perform Dvorak's Symphony No. 8 and Shostakovich's Piano Concerto No. 2 (Charlie Albright, soloist).

Also on the classical roster, violist Miles Hoffman will perform a recital with pianist Reiko Uchida in the Peace Center's Gunter Theatre on Jan. 8. 

Audience favorites

Several familiar faces will return to the Peace Center as well. Audra McDonald, the reigning queen of Broadway, will offer a April 23 program. McDonald, winner of six Tony Awards and two Grammy's, last performed in Greenville in 2012. 

"I can't wait to see Audra McDonald," Riegel said. "She came for the first time and people were blown away. She's fabulous. I love her energy, talent and the way she connects with an audience."

The Peace Center will offer three separate Christmas shows, featuring Aaron Neville (Dec. 8), the Brian Setzer Orchestra (Dec. 9) and Kenny Rogers (Dec. 16). Those are in addition to the other annual Yuletide attractions produced by the Peace Center's resident companies such as the Greenville Symphony and Carolina Ballet Theatre. 

"These are great Christmas shows in terms of attracting diverse audiences," Riegel said.

The classical Los Angeles Guitar Quartet will return to the Peace Center after an absence of many years for a Nov. 24 program in the Gunter Theatre. 

"They have such an amazing following and guitar is always one of the top-sellers at the Peace Center," Riegel said.

Dance companies Pilobolus and Joffrey Ballet have appeared in recent years at the Peace Center but will return with new programs.

"I want to bring back a fabulous company like Joffrey Ballet on a regular basis and it'll be vastly different from what people have seen before," Riegel said.

Pilobolus and Joffrey Ballet tickets start as low as $15.

"We are so committed to keeping ticket prices accessible," Riegel said.

Riegel urges ticket-buyers to purchase directly from the Peace Center, www.peacecenter.org, to avoid higher resale prices.

The Peace Center's Broadway Series, announced in April, includes: "Once" (Sept. 23-28); "The Book of Mormon" (Nov. 11-16); "Disney's Beauty and the Beast" (Dec. 23-28); "Wicked" (Jan 28-Feb. 15); "Pippin" (March 17-22); "Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella" (Aug. 4-9) and Kinky Boots" (Sept. 1-6).

Following are the single-night performers on the Peace Center's 2014-15 season:

• Sept. 16: Keb' Mo'

• Oct. 9: Ron White

• Oct. 22: Alton Brown Live

• Oct. 24: Kathy Griffin

• Oct. 25: In Collaboration: The Milk Carton Kids and Sarah Jarosz

• Oct. 27: Susan Boyle in Concert

• Nov. 6: From the Top, with host Christopher O'Riley

• Nov. 9: Natalie Cole

• Nov. 24: Los Angeles Guitar Quartet

• Dec. 8: Christmas with Aaron Neville

• Dec. 9: The Brian Setzer Orchestra Christmas Rocks!

• Dec. 16: Kenny Rogers Christmas Show

• Jan. 8: Miles Hoffman, viola; with Reiko Uchida, piano

• Jan. 10: "Stomp"

• Jan. 13: Martha Graham Dance Company

• Feb. 22: Jackie Evancho

• March 12: An Evening With Garrison Keillor

• March 24: The Joffrey Ballet

• April 7: Keith Lockhart with the BBC Concert Orchestra

• April 9: Pilobolus

• April 23: Audra McDonald

For the lastest in local art news and reviews, follow Paul Hyde on Facebook and Twitter: @PaulHyde7

 

YOU CAN GO

What: The Peace Center's 2014-2015 season of performances

Tickets and information: Advance tickets for all shows go on sale to Peacekeepers on Monday. All single night shows go on sale to the general public on Saturday, Aug. 2. Call 864-467-3000 or 1-800-888-77768 or order online at www.peacecenter.org