Western Carolina University’s 2016-17 Galaxy of Stars Series will feature six performances beginning with “Tarocco: A Soldier’s Tale” on Thursday, Aug. 25, at the John W. Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center.
The Galaxy of Stars Series, the only professional entertainment series in Jackson County, enters its 12th season this fall. It is presented by the WCU College of Fine and Performing Arts with support from the WCU Friends of the Arts organization. Performances begin at 7:30 p.m.
To kick off the fall season, “An Evening with Bardo Arts Center” is being held in conjunction with the Aug. 25 show. The night will begin with a free reception with food and drinks from 5 to 7 p.m. to open the 2016 School of Art and Design Biennial Exhibition. The performance by Asheville’s Fox & Beggar Theater Company will follow.
“Tarocco: A Soldier’s Tale” is a combination of circus arts, dance, mask-and-puppet theater, music, animated video and dazzling special effects. Written and directed by Nat Allister, founder of the Fox and Beggar Theater, the story is inspired by Tarocco Piemontese, a 500-year-old card game.
It is a story of an Italian World War I infantryman who is trapped behind enemy lines after barely escaping the gas attacks at the Battle of Caporetto. The soldier takes shelter in an abandoned house where he finds a badly wounded man. He comforts the dying comrade by telling him a story using images from an ancient deck of playing cards known as the Tarocco Piemontese, a predecessor of Tarot cards.
Each new card brings to the stage a mysterious character. The cards are interpreted on stage as other worldly beings – mysterious, sinister, seductive, violent, and merciful.
The next event is “Tzakbu: Queen of the Maya,” a theatrical performance written and directed by Hiram Marina. The play, featuring actors from Chiapas, Mexico, will be Friday, Sept. 30. It recreates the life of Tzakbu, who was a queen, wife, mother and governor of the Mayans. The performance will be spoken in authentic Mayan language and each audience member will receive a program booklet that includes scene synopsis translations. It is not recommended for children under the age of 6.
Next is Shana Tucker, a singer, songwriter and cellist whose music stems from her background in jazz and classical music, mixed with ‘80s and ‘90s pop music, movie soundtracks and world music. She has opened for such artists as Norah Jones, the Blind Boys of Alabama and Lisa Fischer. Tucker, who will perform on Friday, Nov. 11, is currently a resident musician with Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas.
On Friday, Feb. 24, award-winning bluegrass star Rhonda Vincent and The Rage will perform. Vincent was the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Female Vocalist of the Year winner from 2000 to 2006, along with the IBMA Entertainer of the Year in 2001. The Society for Preservation of Bluegrass Music in America named her Entertainer of the Year from 2002 to 2006.
The Nile Project, featuring artists from 11 countries along the Nile River, will perform on Monday, March 13. Since their debut concert, which featured a live recording of their 2013 release, ASWAN, the Nile Project has proven to be much more than a band. National Public Radio named that recording one of the five “Must Hear International Albums.”
The series wraps up on Saturday, April 29, with Artrageous: An Interactive Art and Music Experience. Artrageous is a show where audience members participate in an experience that includes a team of artists, singers, dancers and Bunraku puppeteers.
Series subscriptions are now available at a discounted rate over individual tickets. Series subscriptions, which include all six shows, are $100 for WCU faculty/staff, $120 for adults/seniors and $45 for students/children. They can be purchased online at bardoartscenter.wcu.edu or by calling the box office at 828-227-2479. Individual tickets also are on sale.