shatner (September 9, 2012)

Look ahead to the lineup of fall performances in Hampton Roads, and you'll discover an amazing breadth of talent from both visiting artists and regionally based arts organizations. Pop culture junkies as well as those who gravitate toward more serious fare will find plenty to savor.

Here's a look at some highlights of the coming months:


"Fences," Virginia Stage Company, Sept. 25-Oct. 14.

Winner of the 1987 Pulitzer Prize, "Fences" is the best known of playwright August Wilson's Pittsburgh Cycle of 10 plays about the African-American experience. Each one focuses on a different decade in the 20th century.

Set in the 1950s, "Fences" tells of Troy, a former baseball player now in his 50s who works as a garbage collector and struggles to support his family and dream of the future.

"The Pearl Fishers," Virginia Opera, Sept. 29-Oct. 7.

Last year, Virginia Opera announced its commitment to opening each season with a work Hampton Roads audiences had never seen before. This refreshing idea continues with Bizet's "The Pearl Fishers," the tale of a love triangle played out between two male friends and a woman in a tiny fishing village.

Most of us know the one famous musical selection, "Au fond du temple saint," known as the "friendship duet," from this French opera, so it will be a revelation to see the entire work. The trio of roles will be sung by soprano Heather Buck, tenor Chad Johnson and baritone David Pershall. Two accomplished artists, conductor Ann Manson and stage director Tazewell Thompson, will oversee the production.

In you want a sneak peak at the singers, they'll be performing at Opera in the Park at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15, in Town Point Park on the downtown Norfolk riverfront. It's free.


Liza Minnelli, Oct. 12, Ferguson Center for the Arts.

One of Broadway's most enduring stars makes her first Peninsula appearance in a concert in the Christopher Newport University concert hall. Winner of four Tony Awards, an Oscar, a special "Legends" Grammy, two Golden Globe Awards and an Emmy, Minnelli is best remembered for her riveting performance in the film, "Cabaret."

Keeping up a rigorous live performance schedule is a commitment to her "the show must go on" perseverance. Her mother, Judy Garland, appeared in "The Wizard of Oz," and Minnelli is fond of saying, "From the waist up, I'm Dorothy's daughter...From the waist down, I'm the Tin Man's kid."

Her appearance coincides with the recent release of "Liza Minnelli: Live at the Winter Garden," a CD of her historic New York performance in 1974.

Jane Austin's "Pride & Prejudice," L.A. Theatre Works, Oct. 23, The American Theatre

Theater buffs can count on The American Theatre for consistently hosting the top touring companies year after year. L.A. Theatre Works, run by producing artistic director Susan Albert Loewenberg, uses the "radio play" format to bring classics to life.

Her production of "Pride and Prejudice" coincides with the 200th anniversary of the publication of this enduring literary work that explores manners and morals in early 19th century England. Jane Carr and Nicholas Hormann star in this adaptation by Cristina Calvit of Austen's classic tale.

Esperanza Spalding, Oct. 24, Ferguson Center

Spalding won the Grammy Award for Best New Artist in 2011, making her the first jazz artist to win the award. Still under age 30, Spalding combines jazz and pop musical genres with a sophistication of a more seasoned artist.