Greenville Area Arts Council ushers in 35th season
The lights of the Ritz Theater have stirred to life for the Greenville Area Arts Council for 35 years, and this year’s season of shows looks to trump past efforts.
For Nancy Idland, executive director of the Greenville Area Arts Council, bringing new acts to the Camellia City for such a length of time proves challenging in and of itself.
Fortunately, drawing upon 34 years of history and past knowledge provides ample evidence of what works and what doesn’t.
“We do look at what we have been successful with in the past, and what our community responds to,” Idland said.
“We have to put a lot of thought and effort into it because we do want to keep a lot of people coming. We do our best to offer a variety of entertainment that will hopefully reach everyone, because not everyone will like Fleetwood Mac, but hopefully within our lineup there will be something that each person will feel comfortable with and enjoy.”
The Greenville Area Arts Council will kick off this season’s quartet of shows with perhaps one of the biggest acts to grace the Greenville stage.
The Black Jacket Symphony, an act that has garnered renown in large venues throughout the East Coast for their unique take on recreating classic albums, will be bringing their adaptation of Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours,” on Oct. 13.
Backed by first-class lighting and video production, the Black Jacket Symphony recreates an album in its entirety with painstaking detail, and Idland is confident in saying the band’s presence could make for one of the strongest starts ever to the arts council’s season.
“We’re lucky to get them to come here,” Idland said. “They play big, huge arenas, and so this will be a real treat for our audience.”
Next is the Classic Nashville Roadshow, starring Jason Petty and Katie Deal on Nov. 3.
Petty, no stranger to the Camellia City, will look to reproduce the crooning melodies of Hank Williams, and for this particular show he’ll be accompanied by Katie Deal and her best impersonation of Patsy Cline.
“Jason has been to Greenville on numerous occasions and he’s always been very well received, so we thought that it would be awesome to have him back this year to help us celebrate 35 years,” Idland said.
“And Butler County people in general always love him because it’s country music and, with Butler County being the birthplace of Hank, people just love to come and hear Jason sing. And they will be presenting all of the classic favorites that Hank and Patsy made famous.”
The first act of 2017, on Jan. 21, will be Mountain Heart, a young and up-and-coming group similar to the well-received SteelDrivers from the GAAC’s 34th season, who went on to win a Grammy a few days following their show in Greenville.
“Mountain Heart appeals to the 30-something crowd, but I believe all people will love them,” Idland said. “It is a bluegrass country sound with mandolins, violins and banjos, and it’s just a really fun show.”
And closing out the 35th season is “Embraceable You: The Music of George Gershwin.”
“We picked this show because a lot of people would really love to bring a Broadway-like show back to our stage, and this is our homage to that, because this is the music of George Gershwin,” Idland said.
“It’s not a theatrical production; it is a musical production, but there will be dancing and some dialogue. And, again, it will appeal to a completely different demographic, but I think it’s something that everyone can relate to because it’s such recognizable music.”
Season tickets for all four shows cost $40 (and $30 for students), which Idland calls a great value given the variety of acts coming to the Ritz this season.
And the low prices are only possible because of faithful patrons throughout the community.
“People give extra money to help make this happen,” Idland said. “That’s what makes it all possible, and that’s the support of our community. That’s the reason we’re still here after 35 years.”
Those interested in season tickets can contact Idland at 334-354-2802, or Mary Hamilton at 334-382-8668.
Individual tickets can also be purchased at The Pineapple, Medicine Shoppe and McFerrin’s Jewelry.