If Darrell Bryan had to put a title on Niswonger Performing Arts Center’s 2011-2012 season, that’s the one he’d choose.
“It’s difficult to believe that the seventh year of the Niswonger Performing Arts Center is about to get under way,” Bryan, NPAC’s executive director, said of the season’s star-studded lineup, which officially kicks off Sept. 8 with the Western music and comedy band Riders in the Sky. Elvis impersonator Eddie Miles will perform a special pre-season show at 7:30 p.m., Aug. 20. Tickets are $25 for adults, $22.50 for groups and $12.50 for students.
Other legendary performers on the schedule include the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band on Oct. 11; Crystal Gayle, March 10; and Blood, Sweat, and Tears, May 19. Jason Coleman, grandson of piano virtuoso Floyd Cramer, will appear in concert Nov. 13 following the official opening of NPAC’s Festival of Trees.
Phil Dirt & The Dozers will return to the NPAC stage Dec. 17 with their Christmas show, featuring hits from the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s plus some of audience members’ favorite seasonal songs, while appearing for the first time will be “Let’s Hang On!,” a show that pays tribute to Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, on Feb. 25.
The Knoxville Jazz Orchestra (Jan. 15) will celebrate the big band era with an afternoon of musical selections straight from the libraries of icons like Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Bennie Goodman and more, while the Fisk Jubilee Singers (Jan. 28) from Fisk University in Nashville will treat their audience to the unique American musical tradition of the Negro spiritual.
Other performers on tap include Melinda Doolittle from season six of “American Idol” on Sept. 24; the up-and-coming country duo Steel Magnolia on March 24; “Ballroom With a Twist,” a new dance production directed and choreographed by the Emmy-nominated Louis van Amstel from “Dancing With The Stars,” on April 22. The Appalachian Express Chorus will kick off the holiday season with a Christmas concert on Nov. 27, followed Feb. 4 by Pigeon Forge favorite James Rogers and April 13 by a special show by the Kenyan Safari Acrobats, who blend traditional arts and circus skills in classic African style.
Classic drama on the NPAC stage this season includes a national tour of the “Wizard of Oz,” presented by Columbia Artists, on Oct. 24 and Barter Theatre’s “Civil War Voices” on Nov. 6, in observance of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.
Not included in the season but also on the 2011-2012 schedule is a special show for children, “Mooseltoe: A New Moosical,” on Dec. 4. In it, Mooseltoe pursues a seemingly impossible dream while learning many valuable lessons from the characters he meets along the way, including three snobby penguins, a snowman, a walrus named Willie and Santa Claus himself.
Season tickets are $391 each, and include one admission to each of NPAC’s “season” shows, for a savings of 20 percent off the regular season prices. Season ticket holders also get early notification and presale opportunities for any added events during the year. All season tickets must be purchased prior to Sept. 8.
This year, NPAC is offering three series of shows – Classic, Contemporary and Family – and patrons who purchase a complete series can save 15 percent on each show.
With NPAC’s popular Pick 4 or More package, guests create their own package by choosing four or more “season” shows and purchasing one ticket to each of those shows, at a savings of 15 percent per ticket. Tickets to all four or more shows must be purchased at the same time.
NPAC also offers discounted rates to groups of 10 or more people.
“We have worked very hard this year to offer a wide variety of entertainment for all ages, while trying to keep our prices as low as possible,” Bryan said. “And I would like to remind the public that NPAC offers gift certificates in any amount.”
Tickets can be purchased in person, online at www.greenevillenpac.com or by phone by calling the NPAC box office at (423) 638-1679 between 11:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.