Dayton’s 2017-18 arts season has something for everyone, but it’s easy for certain shows to fly under the radar, particularly titles that are unfamiliar or contain provocative content.
When it comes to the arts around Dayton, you always have plenty to choose from. And the truth is, it’s hard to see it all.
For those looking to broaden their horizons and dive in, we’ve got some sure bets to help you get to the right place.
Here are 10 arts events that should be on everyone’s must-do list!
Legendale: A New Musical
Sept. 7-Oct. 1, 2017, Loft Theatre
This American premiere produced by the Human Race Theatre Company and written by Andrea Daly and Jeff Bienstock gives escapism a new meaning. Miserable IT manager Andy (Max Crumm of Broadway’s 2007 “Grease” revival) finds life more worthwhile as seen through the prism of the online game “Legendale.” Buzz is strong on this one. Is Broadway next? Stay tuned.
DPAA Season Opening Spectacular: Verdi’s Requiem
Sept. 16-17, 2017, Schuster Center
The drama and splendor of Giuseppe Verdi’s powerful, majestic and theatrical “Requiem” will receive a full-scale treatment thanks to the Dayton Performing Arts Alliance. Four soloists, double choir, orchestra and dancers will fuel the emotional magnitude of this musical setting of the Roman Catholic funeral mass.
In The Heights
Oct. 3-8, 2017, Schuster Center
Before “Hamilton” made him a superstar, Lin-Manuel Miranda won a 2008 Tony for writing the score for this infectiously diverse blend of hip-hop and Latin rhythms centered on the Washington Heights community in New York City. Hopes and dreams bolstered by a winning lottery ticket fuel the story’s universality.
Oct. 7-8, 2017, Victoria Theatre
Dayton Contemporary Dance Company salutes nine-time Grammy winner and Pulitzer Prize winner Wynton Marsalis, the legendary musician whose varied contributions from jazz to classical changed the landscape of African-American music. Dayton Jazz Ensemble also participates.
The Great Gatsby
Oct. 26-29, 2017, Victoria Theatre
The Roaring Twenties energizes Dayton Ballet’s 80th anniversary season as choreographer Ron Cunningham, Artistic Director of Sacramento Ballet, envisions F. Scott Fitzgerald’s tale of wealthy Jay Gatsby and the lovely Daisy Buchanan. This ballet premiered at Sacramento Ballet in February 2013 and will feature live music by Billy Nivock’s Blue Syncopators and blues singer Felita LaRock with narration by Human Race Resident Artist Jamie Cordes as Nick Carraway.
Nov. 17-Dec. 3, 2017, Dayton Theatre Guild
Tony-nominated playwright Lucas Hnath (“A Doll’s House, Part 2”) first took New York City by storm with this insightful look at faith and conflict inside a megachurch concerning Pastor Paul’s controversial epiphany about Hell. “The Christians” was a finalist at the 2014 Humana Festival in Louisville and was produced off-Broadway the following year. In 2016 it was chosen as the eighth most-produced new play by American Theatre Magazine.
March 8-11, 2018, Mathile Theatre of the Schuster Center
Playground Theatre — devoted to staging raw, relevant plays — pushes forward as never before with this edgy dark comedy by Leslye Headland about women behaving badly. A night of debauchery and gluttony in a New York City hotel suite brings out the worst in old friends as old fears and unfilled desires take hold. Playground co-founders Jenna Valyn and Christopher Hahn consider “Bachelorette” the riskiest play they’ve produced. That’s code for must-see.
Blood at the Root
April 11-15, 2018, Sinclair Community College
Detroit native Dominique Morisseau has quickly become one of hottest playwrights of her generation. She is perhaps best known for her three-play cycle “The Detroit Project.” Morisseau — executive story editor on Showtime’s “Shameless” — brings the complexity and frustrations of the African-American experience to the forefront on the gripping level of Pulitzer Prize winners Lynn Nottage (“Sweat”) and Suzan-Lori Parks (“Topdog/Underdog”). “Blood at the Root” is inspired by the racially divisive 2006 case of the Jena Six involving black teenagers accused of an attack on a white schoolmate at a Louisiana high school. Social justice advocacy and the importance of communication resonate to the core. Prepare to be riveted.
Bernstein and the New Americans
May 4-5, 2018, Schuster Center
The Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra celebrates Leonard Bernstein’s 100th birthday with a mini-festival, specifically a tribute to the composer’s legendary 1957 musical “West Side Story.” Nine short movements of symphonic dances from the show will be featured on the program along with a performance of composer Stella Sung’s “Signs/Fate of Place” and Sean Neukom’s Violin Concerto written for DPO concertmaster Jessica Hung. It’s the best of all possible worlds!
Yousuf Karsh: American Portraits
June 23-Sept. 16, 2018, Dayton Art Institute
Pop culture returns to the DAI with this appealing exhibition organized by the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. The influential career of Yousuf Karsh (1908-2002) spanned six decades, creating iconic portraits of some of the biggest names in Hollywood, finance, politics and the arts. Featuring 48 black-and-white photographs, the exhibit encompasses such legends as Andy Warhol, Ernest Hemingway, Humphrey Bogart, Warren Buffett, Jim Henson, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Muhammad Ali and Walt Disney. Here’s looking at you, Yousuf!