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Ruth Eckerd's 2007-08 schedule rocks
The hall's new season focuses less on the classical and more on the pop.
By John Fleming, Times Performing Arts Critic
Published July 22, 2007
CLEARWATER - There was a time when Beethoven's Fifth constituted a classic at Ruth Eckerd Hall. But now the label is more likely to go to A Horse With No Name or Breaking Up Is Hard to Do. Exhibit A: the hall's 2007-08 season, released today.
"Classical music and dance have been struggling for a number of years now," president Robert Freedman says. "We are not ever going to give up on presenting those performances which we think are part of what a performing arts center is about. But we're now in a generation that grew up with what is now classic rock 'n' roll. That's where a lot of the taste has moved. So we are responsive to that."
The lineup for the coming season includes a host of old favorites such as Anita Baker (with a top ticket of $135), Michael McDonald, REO Speedwagon, .38 Special, Neil Sedaka, K.D. Lang, Queen Latifah, America, Gary Puckett and Little Anthony and the Imperials. Other pop and rock acts, which tend to book on short notice, will be announced as the season goes along.
The classical music lineup includes a pair of regulars at the hall, violinist Itzhak Perlman and flutist James Galway. Also on the agenda are the Tokyo String Quartet playing Mozart, Beethoven and Webern, and tours of Madama Butterfly and La Traviata.
Topping the dance schedule are Pilobolus, Swan Lake, the Moiseyev Dance Company and a weeklong residency and performance by Spectrum Dance Theatre, led by Clearwater native Donald Byrd, who choreographed the Broadway hit The Color Purple.
The season also has a full complement of the easy listening and variety show staples that the hall has presented since opening in 1983: Tony Bennett, Anne Murray, Don Rickles, Joan Rivers, Johnny Mathis, Engelbert Humperdinck and even Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme.
"Three years ago Steve and Eydie did their farewell tour, and it's still continuing," Freedman says. "They love being onstage. They couldn't stop."
Spamalot tops the Broadway schedule, which was previously announced. Although the Monty Python musical comedy had a two-week engagement last season at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, Freedman expects it to replicate the robust box office results that the hall enjoyed with Mamma Mia, which set a hall record with gross weekly sales of $1.3-million.
"Mamma Mia played TBPAC three times before it came to us last season, and we still sold out every performance," Freedman says. "I think Spamalot is going to be one of those shows like Cats, like Mamma Mia, that you will see repeat ticket buyers."
Cats, too, will be back in Clearwater.
Here's the complete 2007-08 schedule.
Pop, jazz and more
Oct. 9: Mindi Abair
Oct. 23: REO Speedwagon and .38 Special
Oct. 26: Nights of Fire!
Nov. 8: Queen Latifah
Dec. 5: Tony Bennett
Dec. 14: Anita Baker
Jan. 9: Chris Botti
Jan. 13: Neil Sedaka
Jan. 17: Jay Black and Gary Puckett
Jan. 19: Dennis DeYoung and America
Feb. 11: Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme
Feb. 17: John Tesh
Feb. 19: Engelbert Humperdinck
Feb. 23-24: Anne Murray
March 3: K.D. Lang
March 7: Johnny Mathis
March 8: Richard Nader's Doo Wop Reunion VIII, with Little Anthony and the Imperials, Johnny Maestro and the Brooklyn Bridge, Kenny Vance and the Planotones
March 24: Kenny G
March 30: Italian American Festival with Joy Behar and Michael Amante
April 4: Ricky Skaggs and Bruce Hornsby with Kentucky Thunder
Nov. 23-24: Hairspray
Dec. 16: Gypsy
Jan. 2-6: Cats
Jan. 8: Blast
Feb. 12-13: The Producers
March 2: Movin' Out
March 15: Martin Short
March 18-23: Spamalot
April 15-17: Rent
April 17: Rent's Adam Pascal in concert in the Margarete Heye Great Room
April 23: Bermuda Avenue Triangle
Jan. 22: Tokyo String Quartet
March 1: Sir James and Lady Jeanne Galway
March 25: State Symphony Orchestra of Russia
April 5: Itzhak Perlman
Jan. 26: Teatro Lirico D'Europa: Madama Butterfly
Feb. 22: Teatro Lirico D'Europa: La Traviata
March 6: Pilobolus
April 12: Russian National Ballet Theatre and Orchestra: Swan Lake
April 25: Spectrum Dance Theater/Donald Byrd, featuring David Benoit and the Clearwater Jazz Holiday/Ruth Eckerd Hall Jazz Band
Nov. 9: Ballet Folklorico de Mexico
Nov. 17: Yamato Drummers of Japan
Jan. 14: Bowfire
Jan. 29: AEROS
Feb. 25: Moiseyev Dance Company
March 16: Pipes, Drums and Dancers of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards and the Band of the Coldstream Guards
March 28: Carl Rosa Opera: The Mikado
Oct. 13: Sinbad
Oct. 19: Last Comic Standing Tour
Jan. 25: Jackie Mason Farewell Tour
Feb. 29: Don Rickles and Joan Rivers
Nov. 28: Wynonna: A Classic Christmas
Nov. 29: Michael McDonald: "On This Night"
Dec. 3: Dave Koz: Smooth Jazz Christmas
Dec. 8-9: Miami City Ballet: The Nutcracker
Dec. 11: Peter White Christmas with Rick Braun and Mindi Abair
Dec. 21: Jim Brickman's Holiday Homecoming Concert with Lonestar's Richie McDonald
Dec. 22: Nebraska Theatre Caravan: A Christmas Carol
Dec. 31: Salute to Vienna
Young audience attractions
Nov. 2-4: Sesame Street Live: "Elmo Makes Music"
Dec. 29: Doodlebops
April 6: Musical Adventures of Flat Stanley
Family theater series
Nov. 11: Tweaksters: Fabulous Feats of Physical Fun
Jan. 18: Golden Dragon Acrobats
Feb. 2 and 9: Eckerd Theater Company: Woodland Tales
April 27: Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia: The Very Hungry Caterpillar and other Eric Carle favorites
May 17: Sol y Canto: El Doble de Amigos/Twice As Many Friends
Family theater series special
Sept. 15 and 22: Eckerd Theater Company: The Hundred Dresses
Evening at the Murray
Oct. 5: Fred Johnson and Susan Jeffers: Images and Melodies of the Heart
Nov. 2: Glenis Redmond
Dec. 14: "Jest" a Little Winter Fun, featuring Arioso String Quartet and Hoffman Institute Students
Jan. 11: Theatrical Side of Music with Maria Zouves
Feb. 22: Original All Stars featuring bassist John Lamb
March 14: Eckerd Theater Company: Battledrum
May 2: Lee Ahlin and Friends
May 16: Sol y Canto
Emerging artist series - Pinellas Youth Symphony
Oct. 13: Serenade Strings Orchestra and String Quartets
Nov. 18: From Our Family to Yours: A Holiday Feast
April 13: Spring Concert
Adults at leisure (matinee series)
Nov. 26: 3 Redneck Tenors
Dec. 4: Lena Prima: "Louis Prima, That's My Dad!"
Dec. 11: Sha Na Na Rockin' Christmas
Jan. 9: Mickey Rooney with Jan Rooney: "Let's Put on a Show!"
Jan. 15: Wonderful Wizard of Song
Jan. 22: Glenn Miller Orchestra
Jan. 28: My Sinatra: Cary Hoffman and orchestra
Feb. 4: Irving Berlin's I Love a Piano
Feb. 5: Lynda Carter with John Byner
Feb. 27: Direct From Las Vegas: the Rat Pack
March 5: Freda Payne: Musical Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald
March 9: Tony Kenny's Ireland
March 25: Irish Rovers
April 8: 100 Years of Hollywood
Ruth Eckerd Hall members may order tickets beginning in late July. Tickets will go on sale to the general public at 10 a.m. Aug. 25. The ticket office is at 1111 McMullen-Booth Road in Clearwater. See www.rutheckerdhall.com or call (727) 791-7400 for details.
All artists, programs and dates are subject to change.