Aug 23, 2011

Cultural Arts Series

National and internationally known artists will converge on the Brainerd Lakes area as part of the 2011-12 Cultural Arts Series sponsored by Central Lakes College Theatre. Series producer Patrick Spradlin calls this the most ambitious season of the series’ history, with 15 scheduled events and plans to add additional programs later. “I’m really excited about the lineup of shows I’ve been able to find for this year,” said Spradlin. “There are some returning favorites, some legendary performers, and several new offerings that I think people will really enjoy.” Also, for the first time since the series began, ticket packages tailored to particular interests are available.

The series starts on Friday, Sept. 9 with Chicago’s Second City Improvisational Comedy Troupe. For over 50 years Second City has delighted audiences with their edgy, topical humor. Comedic superstars such as John Belushi, Bill Murray, John Candy, Tina Fey, and Mike Myers got their start with Second City. Audiences may get to see the comedy superstars of tomorrow in the touring company when it performs at 7:30 p.m. in the Chalberg Theatre.

On Thursday, Sept.15 Tornstrom Auditorioum will be the site for The Machine, America’s top Pink Floyd show, with a 20-year reputation for extending the legacy of Pink Floyd while forging a legacy all their own. Selling out theatres and stadiums throughout North and Central America and Europe, the Machine provides an authentic Floyd-ian experience, complete with stellar musicianship, dramatic lighting and video, and a passionate delivery that sets them apart from every other Pink Floyd tribute band. “The Machine sounds exactly like Pink Floyd” said Matthew Weber in Spin Magazine.

Known for his roles in movies such as “Deliverance,” “The Onion Field,” “Beverly Hills Cop,” “Robocop,” and “Total Recall,” Ronny Cox is also an accomplished singer/songwriter. With several CD’s and countless national and international tours, Cox blends a folksie sound with an eclectic approach to arrangements and delivery. Cox will perform in the Dryden Theatre on Thursday Oct. 6, appearing with Moorhead singer/songwriter David Stoddard.

America’s longest running classical touring company, The National Players, will perform the stage version of John Steinbeck’s immortal “Of Mice and Men” on Tuesday, Oct. 25 in the Chalberg Theatre. Celebrating their 63rd year of touring, The National Players will captivate you with their telling of the story of friendship, loyalty, and sacrifice during bleak times. “This is a production you won’t want to miss,” said Spradlin. “Steinbeck’s story is so powerful, and this company is incredibly talented.”

Zorongo Flamenco Dance Theatre of Minneapolis will perform on Saturday, Nov. 5 at 7:30 p.m. in the Chalberg Theatre. Zorong is one of the few American Spanish dance companies to present both traditional flamenco dance programs as well as original works. Comprised of an ensemble of international artists, dancers and musicians, Zorongo is renowned for bringing the power, passion, and virtuosity of the art of flamenco to American audiences.

On Friday, Nov. 4 at 7 p.m., the Rose Ensemble returns to the Lakes area. Founded in 1996 in Saint Paul, the Rose Ensemble uses vocal music to stir the soul, stimulate the mind, and lift the spirit. Their show “Songs of Temperance and Temptation: 100 Years of Restraint and Revelry in Minnesota” is a musical exploration of the humor and history behind Prohibition and Minnesota’s long-standing love/hate relationship with the pub. With featured guest performers Dan Chouinard, Patricia Hampl, David Burk, Greg Hippen and Ginna Watson.

Returning for their third straight appearance, The Steeles ring in the holiday season with their Christmas show, with two scheduled performances on Friday evening, Dec. 9 and Saturday afternoon, Dec. 10. “I am so happy to be able to bring the Steeles back to Brainerd,” said Spradlin. “They are so incredibly talented. Their Christmas show packed the Fitzgerald Theatre in St. Paul for over 25 years. We are indeed fortunate to have them here.”

Also returning for another holiday show, the Rock ’n’ Roll Xmas Spectacular will rock out the Chalberg Theatre on Dec. 14. “What would Christmas be without Led Zeppelin? Jethro Tull? AD/DC?” asked Spradlin. “Well, it wouldn’t be Christmas without the Rock ’n’ Roll Xmas Spectacular!” The show features traditional Christmas songs played in a non-traditional way, with a tribute to the great rock bands of the world. It’s what audiences around the state are calling the greatest (rock Christmas show) on earth!

The John Jorgenson Quintet features John Jorgenson, a founding member of the Desert Rose Band, the Hellecasters, and six-year member of Elton John’s band. Known as one of the pioneers of the American gypsy jazz movement, Jorgenson has performed as a solo artist and collaborated with other musicians all over the world. “This is a top-quality show,” said Spradlin. “We had them hear a couple of years ago, and audiences were just amazed at their musical virtuosity.” Jorgenson will appear on Saturday, Jan. 28 at 7:30 p.m.

Returning on Feb. 8 for a third year, The Acting Company has garnered critical acclaim on a national scale through 135 productions and 39 seasons of classic, contemporary and new plays. Recipient of a TONY Award for Excellence in Theater, the Company has won numerous awards for performance and education including Obies, Audelcos and the Los Angeles Critics Circle Award. Following their month-long residency at the Guthrie Theater, the company will perform Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” in the Chalberg Theatre.

Illusion Theatre of Minneapolis’ award-winning production “My Antonia” is a stage adaptation of the Willa Cather novel, and will be performed on Friday Feb. 24 in the Chalberg Theatre. Written about the 1880’s European immigrants who came here to make their American dreams come true, the characters endure bitter winters and struggle to make things grow in the hard scrabble of the prairie, eventually reaching their dream. The story is wrapped up in the environment of the changing prairie, created by the actors, set, and sound.

EgoFest, the independent short film festival, will once again be held in the Chalberg Theatre on March 2, 3, and 4. Film entries in various categories will be screened, combined with talkback sessions, workshops, and meet-and-greets of filmmakers. Last year’s festival included entries from Canada and cities in the U.S. ranging from Seattle, Washington to Brooklyn, New York. Full festival passes or single day passes will be available.

Returning to Brainerd following their electrifying performance last spring, internationally-renowned Celtic band Gaelic Storm will perform in the Tornstrom Auditorium on Thursday, March 8. “This band is incredible,” said Spradlin. “I’d heard their recordings, but live they really brought the house down. We had audience members drive from South Dakota, Duluth, Rochester, from all over to see them.”

Leon Redbone is a gem of Americana music, and will perform in the Chalberg Theatre on Saturday, April 21. Combining performance, comedy, and skilled instrumentals, Redbone has enthralled audiences for 40 years with his trademark Panama hat and dark glasses and his renditions of such sentimental favorites as ‘Harvest Moon’, “Walking Stick” and “You’re Going to Miss Me When I’m Gone’. “Leon Redbone is a true classic,” said Spradlin. “He is someone not to be missed.”

Concluding the season will be Tim Mooney, a one-man Shakespeare show, with his “Lot-O-Shakespeare” on Thursday, May 3 in the Dryden Theatre . “This is a really fun show,” said Spradlin. “Tim comes with a bingo-type of drum. Inside a drum are balls with the title of each of Shakespeare’s plays. In lottery fashion, Mooney performs a monologue from the selected play.” Mooney has been praised for his incredible versatility and unmatched energy and performance talent.

“We’re offering full-season packages at a discount, along with price breaks on fall and spring packages,” said Spradlin. “And we’ve also put together two packages for special interests: a Music Lover’s package that features all of the musical artists in the series, and a Theatre Lover’s package for the theatre productions.” Packages are offered at a discount over individual tickets, he adds.

Package or individual tickets for each event can be purchased at, or by contacting the CLC Theatre Box Office at (218) 855-8199. Information about each show, including links to each artist’s website, can be found at