Why This Matters: In 2018, Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s cultural community will continue to provide relevant and innovative experiences that entertain, educate and bring people together.
By Bernie Petit
“Hamilton,” which arrives in Charlotte in the New Year, is poised to be one of the biggest cultural events
But Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s cultural community is ready to deliver even more highlights in the New Year. From Charlotte Ballet and The Light Factory bringing cultural firsts to the U.S. to the U.S. Poet Laureate coming to town, there is plenty to look forward to in 2018.
Here’s a look at some of the cultural highlights to look forward to this year.
With “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” still fresh in many people’s memories, The Charlotte Symphony will present Charlotte Symphony Pops: John Williams Unlimited, which will feature the legendary film scores of John Williams, from “Star Wars” to “Indiana Jones” and “Superman.” Jan. 12-13.
Jazz Arts Initiative will host a special Jazz Room performance when acclaimed Charlotte pianist Chad Lawson plays George Gershwin. Lawson (pictured above) creates music for the hit podcast “Lore” and the Amazon Prime show based on it. Jan. 12-13.
One Voice Chorus will tell the story of Bayard Rustin through the newly-commissioned work “The Man Behind the Dream.” Rustin served as personal assistant to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and as an organizer of the 1963 March on Washington, though some leaders did not want him in the foreground because he was a gay man. April 8.
Speaking of Dr. King, Opera Carolina will remember the American icon in “I Dream,” a modern, R&B opera recounts the final 36 hours in the life of the Civil Rights champion. Here, Dr. King will be depicted as an all-too-human hero who taught a nation that only love can obliterate hate. May 18-25.
Children’s Theatre of Charlotte will step into the ring with “The Greatest” in “And in This Corner: Cassius Clay,” which will take audiences through the early life of the man the world now knows as Muhammad Ali. Feb. 2-18.
Blumenthal Performing Arts will bring back the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (pictured above) for a performance of contemporary works that touch on timely topics and the beloved classic “Revelations,” Alvin Ailey’s masterpiece that explores grief and joy. Feb. 27-28.
Charlotte Ballet will bring Javier de Frutos’ and the Pet Shop Boys’ much ballyhooed “The Most Incredible Thing” to Charlotte for its American debut. March 9-18.
Paperhouse Theatre will unveil “The Sherlock Project,” its new immersive work based on the original Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Spring 2018.
Warehouse Performing Arts Center will present Shakespeare on the Green at Jetton Village in Lake Norman in its production of “Much Ado About Nothing.” April 2018.
Theatre Charlotte will present of the groundbreaking musical “Spring Awakening,” a journey of teenage self-discovery as well as a celebration of youth and rebellion. May 25-June 10.
Blumenthal Performing Arts will bring the show everyone has been waiting for to town. “Hamilton,” with book, music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, reframes the story of founding father Alexander Hamilton. Oct. 10-Nov. 4.
The Light Factory will bring “Tree People: An Exhibition from Finland” (pictured above) to the United States for the first time. The exhibit is underpinned with myths and folklore that were once central to people’s lives, including the myth of the “tree of fate,” on whose leaves every person’s future is written. Jan. 18-March 15.
The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture will celebrate collectors and artists who are preserving African-American art for future generations with the launch of “By and About Women: The Collection of Dr. Dianne Whitfield-Locke and Dr. Carnell Locke,” “A Creative Journey: The Collection of Patrick and Judy Diamond,” “Lillian Blades: Mirrors of Life” and “Frankhavemercy: Frequency.” Feb. 3.
An exhibition of fashion designs by Oscar de la Renta will be on view at The Mint Museum’s Randolph Road location as the museum’s Year of Fashion continues. It will contain fashions made during the span of de la Renta’s career in Spain, Paris, and New York. Spring 2018.
“Interconnected: Data Paintings and Sculpture,” by digital artist Refik Anadol, will be installed at Charlotte Douglas International Airport. Airport operations data will be transformed into a choreographed panorama of 850 linear feet of programmable LEDs and 1,850 square feet of unique and ever-evolving art content displayed on digital display technology, making it one of the largest public artworks of its kind in the world. Spring 2018.
The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art will present “Latin Americans in Paris.” The exhibition will showcase selected Latin American artists who, inspired by the teachings of European artists such as Max Bill and Victor Vasarely and the Argentinian-Italian Lucio Fontana, moved to Paris in the mid-20th century to live and work. Sept. 28, 2018-Feb. 3, 2019.
HISTORY, LITERATURE AND SCIENCE
Matthews Playhouse of the Performing Arts and Theatre Matthews will recount the story of Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad in “Freedom Train,” which will use traditional songs of the period. Feb. 23-March 4.
U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith will be in Charlotte as part of Central Piedmont Community College’s annual Sensoria celebration of literature and the arts. The festival will also bring together ensembles and performers from the greater Charlotte community for a performance of composer Benjamin Britten’s “War Requiem” to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. April 6-15.
The world’s first exhibition showcasing the newly-revised tyrannosaur family tree will open at Discovery Place Science in May. The innovative, multimedia experience “Tyrannosaurs: Meet the Family” (pictured above) will feature more than 10 life-sized dinosaur specimens, including one of the oldest tyrannosaurs, Guanlong wucaii. May 26-Sept. 3.