CAC announces shows for upcoming season

Since opening in 1993, the Community Arts Center has welcomed over a million-and-a-half spectators through its doors by presenting a vast array of shows that appeal to every taste and age. Much of the same can be expected in the CAC’s 26th year, as the concert hall’s 2019-2020 season is filled with loads of diverse entertainment and nationally renowned talent that should keep the big crowds rolling in.

“Preference in music, theater and dance is very subjective,” said Sharon Mack, executive director of the CAC. “Everyone has a different opinion, and as we thoughtfully consider artists for the season, we have to keep in mind that this is a very creative community with general preferences, but still an extremely diverse palette of tastes.”

That’s a sentiment shared by Emmalee Williams, the CAC’s marketing manager, who said that the concert hall wants to provide opportunities for everyone in the community to come out and see a show they are interested in.

“Our support as an organization comes directly from the communities surrounding us, and one way we can give back is by offering a season that is as diverse as our audience and community members are,” Williams said.

Mack said that organizing a season at the CAC is a yearlong process. The venue has to consider many factors for each show, like scheduling conflicts, artist fees and when other community events are being held.

“There is a lot involved in this process but it is very rewarding when we finally pull together an exciting season,” said Mack.

An “exciting season” is exactly what the CAC has ahead of it, as it is packed with family shows, stand-up comedy, music legends, dance performances, contemporary artists and a lot more.

Kicking things off at the theater in 2019-2020 will be comedian Jim Breuer performing at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 4. Breuer was last at the CAC in in 2010-11 season, when he was on the road with the late comedian Ralphie May. His current tour comes on the heels of his recent stint as the opening act for Metallica.

“Laughter is a wonderful way to begin what we think will be an impactful season,” said Mack. “He is playing extremely well throughout the country and we are sure he will do so here in Williamsport as well.”

Not long after Breuer’s show, the CAC will be graced by presence of legendary blues guitarist Buddy Guy, who will perform at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 16. Just last year, the eight-time Grammy Award winner put out his 18th solo LP, “The Blues is Alive and Well.” He’s out to show that phrase is more than just an album name.

“I think that, as a community, we can show him that the blues is still an important part of music culture, especially in Williamsport,” said Williams.

With a heavy blues following in the area, Guy’s show is expected to draw a large audience and is seeing “encouraging” ticket sales already, according to Mack. She also mentioned the CAC made sure to “get the word out early” about Guy’s upcoming performance to those at the Billtown Blues Festival a few weeks ago.

“What an honor to bring this blues legend to our community,” Mack said. “Buddy Guy is going to make this an unbelievable evening of music and storytelling.”

Another highly anticipated music act coming to the CAC in 2019 will be famed folk artist Arlo Guthrie, who does a good bit of storytelling himself. The son of iconic folk figure Woody Guthrie, Arlo is out on his “Alice’s Restaurant Back By Popular Demand Tour.” With a career that spans more than 50 years, the prolific songwriter will not only be playing music, but will also be sharing tales of his life in the music industry.

“All you have to do is watch one of his videos and you get lost in his storytelling,” Mack said. “This is going to be a very intimate experience for audience members.

“That is part of our mission — to give the audience experiences that inspire them to seek their own creative expression,” she added. “I am sure his performance will be truly inspirational.”

Williams added that it is a “great feeling” knowing that the CAC can present artists like Arlo Guthrie to the community.

Speaking of community, the CAC will once again be teaming up with two area schools — Lycoming College and St. John’s School of the Arts — to present the “The Nutcracker” at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 8. The production will feature live music from Lycoming College and other local musicians, and will involve over 200 local artists of all ages (4 to adult), including 120 dancers.

“Creative collaboration is the essence of our mission. There is so much talent in this region, and to have a chance to highlight these talents at a very young age is so vital,” Mack said. “I think the audience deeply appreciates the courage, compassion and dedication of these young performers as they stretch their boundaries and display their passion for performance.

“I think the audience will carry home with them the feeling of pure joy by experiencing this treasured holiday tradition with their loved ones,” she added.

Many exciting acts are also scheduled to perform in the back half of the CAC’s season in the spring. Two of those acts include the jazz fusion/bluegrass group Bela Fleck & the Flecktones (March 24) and the contemporary American bluegrass band Steep Canyon Rangers (April 30). Since the area has an ever-growing base of bluegrass fans, bringing in these acts was a no-brainer for those at the CAC.

“About a year ago, we decided to form a CAC Programming Committee made up of community members and leaders in other performing arts organizations,” Mack said. “We listened closely and began to form a genre list that represented what we were hearing from committee members, the public and our own intimate conversations about music.”

Mack also mentioned that last November the CAC completed a three-year strategic plan that placed a lot of emphasis on programming and audience development. She said that the organization is looking forward to seeing some positive results from its “more thoughtful” programming selection process.

“It’s the result of the community’s true desire to help keep the CAC the true hub of arts and culture for our region,” Mack said. “Moreover, we say ‘thank you’ and ‘We’re listening!'”

Fore more information on the season ahead and other upcoming shows at the Community Arts Center, visit caclive.com.

2019-2020 SEASON

Oct. 4 — Jim Breuer

Oct. 16 — Buddy Guy

Oct. 25 — “Once” (musical)

Nov. 20 — Arlo Guthrie

Dec. 7-8 — “The Nutcracker”

Jan. 16 — “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood Live!”

Feb. 14 — Viva Momix

March 19 — Dallas String Quartet Electric

March 24 — Bela Fleck & the Flecktones

April 30 — Steep Canyon Rangers

May 8 — GENTRI