Variety Is The Spice

Variety Is The Spice

WAC season aims to provide entry point for all


In this, the Walton Arts Center’s 26th year, Fayetteville’s performing arts center continues its mission of providing diverse programming that will engage, enrich and enchant Northwest Arkansas audiences. The full 2018-19 season comprises eight series (plus a chamber music sub-series), in addition to the Broadway Series. Here, WAC staff and organizers are ecstatic to draw attention to the shows they’re most looking forward to. Create-your-own subscriptions and several ticket packages are available for purchase already at 443-5600 or, and individual tickets for most performances go on sale Aug. 6.

Broadway Season

• Jersey Boys — Oct. 5-7

• School of Rock — Oct. 23-28

• On Your Feet! — Dec. 4-9

• The Lincoln Center Theater Broadway Production of Falsettos — Feb. 8-9, 2019

• A Bronx Tale — Feb. 26-March 3, 2019

• Waitress — April 9-14, 2019

• CATS — May 28-June 2, 2019

• Les Misérables — June 18-June 23, 2019

LOL @ WAC Series

Sept. 6-9 — Late Night Catechism

“It’s a one-woman show — part catechism, part stand-up, an interactive comedy,” shares Rachel Burkevich, WAC programming coordinator. “And it speaks to an audience that’s much broader than the membership of just one church. I think you could even be totally secular and still have a lot of fun.”

Sept. 22 — The Pump and Dump Show

Oct. 31 — The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Feb. 19-24 — Dixie’s Tupperware Party

“It’s about a ‘woman’ — Dixie is played by Chris Anderson, who is a man in drag — from the wrong side of the tracks who starts selling Tupperware as a part of the conditions of her parole and becomes one of the top-selling Tupperware ladies in the country. And it is an actual Tupperware party — they sell the Tupperware in the show outside.” — Burkevich

March 30 — Jay Leno*

10X10 Arts Series

“No lie, this is my favorite series, not just because of the cost, but because of the variety that’s in it,” says WAC public relations director Jennifer Wilson.

“It’s a remarkable series,” adds WAC president and CEO Peter Lane, “one we’re all very proud of and that we are very committed to, to make sure arts lovers have a place to come, but also those who are just dipping their toe in the water, they can come and check it out. That’s just something that is unique and very unusual.”

Sept. 14 — Mwenso & The Shakes

“It will appeal to not only a younger audience, like the [festival] crowd, but it will also appeal to an older generation that came up listening to people like James Brown and The Temptations and the whole Motown thing,” offers jazz curator Robert Ginsburg. Michael Mwenso is part “of this new wave of young performers that are really embracing jazz, but they’re connecting it to hip hop and soul and just high energy, super-high energy.”

Sept. 20 — Jessica Lang Dance

Oct. 14 — Ragamala Dance Company’s Written in Water

Nov. 1 — The Story of Everything, Kealoha, Slam Poet

“It’s one of those things we don’t get to see a lot of. Not only the slam [poetry], but it’s got a bit on the Hawaiian culture as well. This is ‘The Story of Everything,’ so it’s the Hawaiian story of how everything started, and it includes everything from the big bang to Michael Jackson into slam poetry.” — Wilson

Jan. 10 — Hot Club of San Francisco’s Cinema Vivant

“This is the ensemble themselves performing music to a movie. And then what we’ve done is we’re keeping them over for the swing dance party that’s on the Night Out Series. So we’re kind of looking for those opportunities to help people connect and expand their experiences with the arts.” — Wilson

Feb. 23 — Michael Andrew: Sinatra and the American Songbook

March 16 — Aquila Theatre Company’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream

April 5 — The Edge Effect

May 9 — 6-WIRE

“6-WIRE is kind of a combination of eastern music and western music in a classical genre. It’s just a very interesting ensemble with the Chinese instruments and the classical instruments mixed together. And they’re world class. So we thought that would be a really interesting bridging of these two cultures.” — Lane

June 26 — AFO 10×10 Concert


(not quite a series, yet)

“To me there’s an arc [in our chamber music selections] of there’s something in there for everybody,” Lane shares excitedly. “There is the classical, standard, traditional Pinchas Zuckerman — a professional at the highest end — with the Artosphere Festival Orchestra and the rising string quartet power of the Dover String Quartet (in the 10×10 series), and then Janoska [in between], which is a very different style. It’s a very sort of modern, ‘Hey, we’re going to play Gypsy music, we’re going to play a little standard classics, we’re going to show you some virtuosic pieces, we’re going to pretend we’re in a Viennese cafe and you’re going to feel like you’re sitting right next to us.’ For me, that arc is really incredible.”

Sept. 21 — An Evening with the Zukerman Trio*

March 29 — Janoska Ensemble

American Music Series

Oct. 2 — Indigo Girls

Oct. 21 — Take Me to the River: Live

“Take Me to the River: New Orleans encompasses [several] different bands … and they’re all on stage at the same time,” shares programming director Jennifer Ross. “It’s going to be everything from big brass band New Orleans sound to Cajun — the fiddles and that kind of a Creole music. So it’s just going be a great, fun, fun evening.”

Nov. 17 — Mission Temple Fireworks Revival

March 31 — Monterey Jazz Festival 60th Anniversary Tour

April 7 — Boz Scaggs

April 20 — Joan Baez: Fare Thee Well Tour

“The show that I am most excited about for the concert series is a show I’ve been trying to get here forever: Joan Baez,” Ross enthuses. “I’m still pinching myself because I can’t quite believe that we landed that show.”

Photo courtesy E. Leitzell
Mwenso & The Shakes open the 10×10 Arts Series at Walton Arts Center with a performance Sept. 14.

Courtesy photo
“Talk about the universal language of music or jazz,” jazz curator Robert Ginsburg raves about George Brooks’ Aspada. “Undoubtedly, almost all the music traditions in the world, in certain elements, embrace this idea of improvisation, and Indian music has definitely done that. And George is a guy who has … dovetailed jazz traditions with Indian traditions.”

Photo courtesy Riccardo Piccirillo
“We’re partnering with the University of Arkansas’ Black Music Symposium and the Faulkner Performing Arts Center to bring in Ruthie Foster, so she will be working at the university with the students,” programming director Jennifer Ross explains of the exciting collaboration and artist residency.

Courtesy photo
“Kids love to see the [books] that they love brought to life onstage. It’s just charming,” says vice president of learning and engagement Laura Goodwin of several shows in the Kids and Family series.

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Friends Shayna and Tracey “co-authored a book called ‘Parentally Incorrect: True Tales by Real Moms About the F**ked-Up Things Their Kids Have Done.’ And that’s what they based the [The Pump and Dump Show] on,” shares programming coordinator Rachel Burkevich excitedly. “So it’s an evening of comedy, music, swearing, commiseration — it’s designed for parents to get out, laugh off a kid-filled day while throwing a few back and remembering who we all were before we had kids.”

West Street Live Series

The West Street Live Series encompasses a singer/songwriter/listening room kind of feel, Ross explains. “So you’re up close and personal with the people who are creating the music, whether it’s music they record themselves or it’s music that they’re creating for other people who record those songs and make them famous.”

Oct. 11 — Jimmy Webb

“He’s just a tremendous songwriter, and he has written so many songs that people know, but they don’t necessarily know that he wrote them.” — Ross

Nov. 29 — John McCutcheon

Jan. 3 — Ruthie Foster

March 7 — Gretchen Peters

April 18 — Royal Wood

May 2 — Molly Tuttle

Starrlight Jazz Series

“In general, the Starrlight Jazz Series this year in many ways follows the tradition that we have built over the last 26 years in that it’s pretty much mainstream jazz, iconic performers — who, in some cases, have been around for quite a while and in other cases they’re really up and coming,” Ginsburg reveals. “And it covers a pallet of variety that we all have come to expect of jazz.”

Oct. 12 — George Brooks’ Aspada

Dec. 1 — The John Patitucci Electric Guitar Quartet

“He is a rock star disguised as a jazz musician.” — Lane

Feb. 8 — Alfredo Rodríguez and Pedrito Martinez Duo

March 15 — Peter Bernstein, Larry Goldings & Bill Stewart Trio

April 19 — Benny Green Trio with Veronica Swift

“I feel like this is one of those performances where we’ll be able to say, ‘We had her when,’ because I think [Veronica is] a real rising star. And her stock goes up by virtue of the fact that she’s going to be with one of the greatest jazz trios in music right now, Benny Green’s trio.” — Ginsburg

Coca-Cola Night Out Series

Oct. 17-18 — The Illusionists: Live from Broadway

Dec. 11 — The King’s Singers

“The King’s Singers are at the pinnacle of that type of a capella music — the non-beatbox type where it’s real choral — really at the pinnacle of what you would want to hear in terms of that vocal clarity ensemble intonation.” — Lane

Jan. 11 — Hot Club of San Francisco’s Swing Dance Party

Feb. 12 — Dorrance Dance*

Michelle Dorrance is “bringing tap dance into, like, the 22nd century! The way that she moves is just tremendous. I can’t even describe it, but she has taken the tap dance form and sort of turned it on its ear. And her work is absolutely beautiful. I mean, you wouldn’t think tap dance is beautiful; her work is beautiful. She and her troupe of dancers are just out of this world. I don’t feel like I can describe it appropriately.” — Ross

Feb. 19 — Cirque Éloize Saloon

March 14 — One Night of Queen

Family Fun Series

“What’s really wonderful,” begins vice president of learning and engagement Laura Goodwin, “about what Walton Arts Center offers kids and families is [it’s] a huge range: work that’s created by professional artists here in Northwest Arkansas, but also work that’s created by international artists.”

Nov. 2-10 — Trike Theatre’s Peter Pan

“Trike Theatre is an artistic affiliate here with Walton Arts Center, and they’re creating professional theater for young audiences and their families right here in Northwest Arkansas,” Goodwin points out. “It’s always fun for me to see what artists are doing here locally and also to play a role in how those projects develop. There’s something really wonderful in getting to know our local artists.”

Nov. 23-25 — Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s The Nutcracker

Dec. 16 — The Snowman: A Family Concert

March 8 — Air Play

“Air Play is contemporary circus — an interesting art form that people don’t think about a lot, but it’s one that is one of the fastest growing art forms in the world. And what I love about this performance is the artists have been so thoughtful to the visual element, and it’s truly breathtaking.” — Goodwin

March 28 — Terrapin Puppet Theatre’s “You and Me and the Space Between”

Kids Series

Nov. 8 — Claire Parsons’ And Then…

“I think it’s so important to offer dance to young audiences because it’s such a wonderful art form and because it’s an art form that’s really about the body more than about the script. Anyone can enjoy it. [And Parsons’ show is] just like this beautiful jewel box of a performance that uses movement to tell its story.” — Goodwin

Dec. 21 — The Polar Express

Jan. 13 — Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Other Eric Carle Favorites

Jan. 19 & 26 — Trike Theatre’s Go, Dog. Go!

May 10 — Tall Stories’ Emily Brown and the Thing

Non-series Offerings

Jan. 4-5 — The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical

April 6 — VoiceJam Competition

June 29 — Artosphere Festival Orchestra Finale Concert


*Three special performances in this season have been designated marquee performances to highlight can’t-miss artists. These performances offer 48 tickets at a higher price that include a meet-and-greet with the artists, as well as some seats in the hall reserved for students of the craft.

Categories: 'Tis the Season