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Sheldon is 'Stretching Across Time' in 2017-18

The Sheldon Theatre's 2017-18 season, unveiled to the community Wednesday, May 24, is an eclectic blend of events aimed at a diverse audience.

The need for a wide range of programming to serve the greater Red Wing community is clear, Executive Director Bonnie Schock said.

"There is broad interest and passionate interest in really different things," she explained. "There is no one Red Wing or regional audience."

Her response: "Intentional diversity. We are committed to having some event that appeals to the widest range of interests. There will be something for you, but not everything will be for you, so that we can touch everyone."

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In practical terms, that means the upcoming season will have theater for all ages, dance, music for every generation, films, storytelling, comedy, opera and more.

The season includes "really fantastic things from the Twin Cities," she said. "We live in this amazing state. Incredible artists and companies call this home," so the Sheldon is drawing on that resource in every category.

Schock divided the season into six series, which she described as "a tool ... to help people find their way." The series themes let people know the style or flavor of a given event, she explained.

"Future. Present. Past — Stretching across Time" is the theme for the 43 mainstage events, divided into six series: Traditions, Enlighten, Family and Youth, Great Sounds, Homegrown, and Holiday.

"This season proudly draws from the past, responds to the present and reaches into the future. There are classic stories that link us to our history, familiar favorites, as well as new works that challenge and inspire unexpected possibilities," she said.

The "jewel box" that is the Sheldon Theatre has been southeast Minnesota's most beloved cultural center for 113 years, Schock noted. It has served generations but "is still right here, alive and in-the-moment."

New season

A weekend of programming will launch the new season.

"We are kicking it off right!" Schock said, with a Sept. 23 Great Sounds Series concert by OK Go, which she described as "an innovative, fearlessly inventive band." The group is known for revolutionary music videos and high-energy pop-rock shows. "It's kind of a coup that we have it coming here," she said.

Paired with it is "Family Dance Party" at 3 p.m. Sept. 24 featuring Koo Koo Kanga Roo, a Minnesota-based, comedic dance-pop duo. This event is part of the Family and Youth Series.

The Great Sounds Series, which spotlights musical trailblazers of all genres, will also include Minnesota legends The Suburbs; Junior Brown and his double-necked guitar; the seventh annual Caravan du Nord with Aby Wolf and PaveElle; guitarist Leo Kottke; Valentine's weekend with The New Standards; bluegrass queen Rhonda Vincent and the Rage; blues artist Shemekia Copeland; and alt-rockers 10,000 Maniacs.

The Traditions Series offers classic stories, timeless styles and familiar names, Schock said.

Highlights are "I Am, He Said: A Celebration of the Music of Neil Diamond" by Minnesotan Matt Vee, nephew of the legendary Bobby Vee, on Sept. 30; and History Theatre's "Sweet Land, the Musical," a celebration of the Heartland, on Oct. 14.

Other Traditions events will feature The Drifters, a Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame group; a stand-up comedy double-header with Mary Mack and Tommy Ryan; Liverpool Legends, a Beatles experience; and a spontaneous show, "Broadway's Next H!t Musical."

The Enlighten Series again will push the limits, Schock said, promising that these programs will "open your eyes, expand your mind, and touch your heart."

Among highlights are Manual Cinema on Oct. 7, presenting "Mementos Mori." The show resembles a live silent film, Schock said, using multiple live and media forms to transform the experience of attending the cinema.

In addition, Arts Midwest World Fest and the Sheldon are bringing two international music ensembles to Red Wing for week-long residencies that will culminate in public concerts: Israel's Sofi and the Baladis in November and the Japanese Taiko drumming group Ondekoza in February.

Unique programs

Other unique programs in this series are Ailey II, a young dance company from American Dance Theater; Universes, a pioneering fusion of poetry and music forms; and Arena Dance's "The Main Street Project," which explores small-town America.

In addition to Koo Koo Kanga Roo, the Family and Youth Series will bring an amazing Halloween weekend show, "The Extraordinist," featuring mentalist Craig Karges, on Oct. 28; and a Children's Theatre Company touring production, "Seedfolks," about a community garden in an immigrant neighborhood, April 20-21.

Also for families, the series includes Missoula Children's Theatre residencies for local youths; Lionheart Youth Theatre's "Petra and the Wolf," a reimagination of the classic story; and Theatreworks USA's "Cat in the Hat."

The Holiday Series brings six music, dance and storytelling events in December. Highlights are America's Got Talent winner Landau Murphy singing "Home for the Holidays" on Dec. 2, and a "Wild and Swingin' Holiday Party" with Big Bad Voodoo Daddy on Dec. 9.

Rounding out the series will be "The Nutcracker Ballet"; Kevin Kling with Dan Chouinard and Simone Perrin in "Tales from the Charred Underbelly of the Yule Log"; Theatre Latte Da's "All is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914," back by popular demand; and a New Year's Eve show with Monroe Crossing.

The Homegrown Series again will feature friends, families and neighbors sharing their talents, Schock said.

Phoenix Theatre

Phoenix Theatre will stage the Noel Coward comedy "Blithe Spirit" in the fall and a powerful drama, "Appropriate," in the spring.

New this year, the Minnesota Opera and the Sheldon will collaborate to present "Voices of Opera" in November. The opera company will conduct an eight-week education program for seniors (55-plus), culminating in a public concert by the senior choir and professionals. Seniors can register online.

Annual favorites also will include the Sheldon Brass Band, the "Arts Alive!" student stage show, Minnesota State College Southeast's "Strings, Winds and Brass Showcase," and the Red Wing High School musical.

Numerous free education and outreach activities are planned in connection with various events. Details will be posted on the Sheldon website: