Get ready to mark your calendars. Earlier this month, the Kravis Center released its complete, star-studded 2014-2015 season schedule. Currently, the Kravis box office is still in its exclusive donor period, with individual tickets being released to the general public Sept. 27. In the meantime, here is our guide to the top 10 don’t-miss Kravis events of the coming season.
10. Improvised Shakespeare Company, Feb. 10-11
The Reduced Shakespeare Company has long held the most recognized position in Bard parody with its endlessly reproduced show “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare Condensed.” Now, there’s a new game in town, and the Improvised Shakespeare Company takes a different approach: It makes up a “masterpiece” on the spot, each night, based on a title suggestion from the audience, and performs it with deadpan Shakespearean dialogue and themes. This mix of Elizabethan drama and “Whose Line Is it Anyway?” has been hailed as “staggeringly brilliant” by TimeOut Chicago. Chances are, if comedic theater can do well in the Second City, it can translate to anywhere in the country.
9. Malcolm X, Feb. 4
The Kravis’ annual African-American Film Festival has run some fairly offbeat offerings in its decade-long existence, but next year, to celebrate its 10th anniversary, the series will focus on masterpieces, with three award-winning classics playing on Wednesdays during Black History Month. The series includes “Lady Sings the Blues,” “The Color Purple” and, to kick things off, Spike Lee’s 1992 masterpiece “Malcolm X,” a fast-moving 202-minute journey into the complicated activist’s life, philosophies, tragedies and triumphs. It’s the sort of monumental production that transcends cinema and becomes a cultural touchstone, and it’s hard to believe it was so Oscar-snubbed back in 1993. A masterpiece indeed, with cameos by none other than Al Sharpton and Nelson Mandela.
8. “Last Comic Standing” Tour, Nov. 2
NBC’s “Last Comic Standing” returned triumphantly this year for the first time since 2010, running 10 comedians through a ringer of challenges, from national TV appearances to celebrity roasts and Universal Studios hosting gigs. Last week, four comedians survived these challenges unscathed, and they’ll be sharing a stage for the series’ fall tour. They’re all undeniably funny and certifiably unique, so that for comedy fans, this quadruple-bill provides something for everyone: the unrelenting stream-of-consciousness of Rod Man (pictured), the outsized humility and warmth of Nikki Carr, the masterly high-pitched provocations of Joe Machi, and the observational riffs of Lachlan Patterson. Let’s just hope they brought some material for their roadshow that hasn’t already been broadcast to millions.
7. Cesar Millan, April 1
Chances are, Cesar Millan probably knows your dog better than your dog knows itself. The world’s most famous dog whisperer is a self-taught canine guru whose best-selling manuals have sold more than 2 million copies across 15 countries. His live shows will hope to prove that he can be just as compelling without the presence of anxious, erratic, soon-to-be-tamed four-legged friends. Millan, who has fought with issues of divorce, depression and attempted suicide in recent years, will address his values, principles and methods in conversations that have been described as more spontaneous than his rigidly formatted TV show. And perhaps you can even pick up some of his exclusive products, like the Funny Muzzle and Cesar’s Dog Backpack.
6. “Celebrity Autobiography,” Jan. 28-Feb. 1
It’s hard to believe anybody ever needed to hear the innermost thoughts of Kenny Loggins, David Cassidy and Vanna White, but they, among countless other B- and C-list (and even some linguistically challenged A-list) celebrities have written vacuous tell-alls that have become immovable staples at Goodwills across the country. This award-winning, Off-Broadway hit is reviving them: In “Celebrity Autobiography,” comedians and actors read choice passages verbatim from these supposedly sincere memoirs. Only their versions drip with sarcasm and mirth, cutting these figures down a peg and having plenty of fun at their expense. While the lineup of talent for this tour appearance has not been released, previous “readers” have been bona fide celebs themselves, including Alec Baldwin, Christie Brinkley and Tovah Feldshuh.
5. “So You Think You Can Dance Live!,” Nov. 26
For fans of Fox’s long-running dance competition series, “So You Think You Can Dance,” the summer of 2014 has already yielded plenty of gasps, laughs, tears and dropped jaws. In a few more weeks, the season will crown its winner, but we already know the top 10 dancers that will be taking their jetes and locking-and-popping and tap shoes and ballroom gowns on the road this fall. This abundance of talent includes the goofily charming Rudy Abreu, the smoldering Jessica Richens, the dorkily lovable Valerie Rockey and the lighter-than-air Casey Askew. They’ll perform favorite numbers from the past season as well as new group numbers designed strictly for the tour.
4. “The Book of Mormon,” Dec. 16-21
In a Kravis on Broadway season consisting largely of familiar warhorses, jukebox musicals and predictable stage-to-screen adaptations (“Flashdance the Musical?” Really?), “The Book of Mormon” is the obvious standout here. I reviewed the Broward Center tour last year, and I plan on returning to see it again, and again, and again. Its perpetually sold-out Broadway status and multiple Tony Awards don’t lie: Trey Parker, Matt Stone and Robert Lopez’s filthy musical about Mormon missionaries bringing their message to a war-torn African village is full of timelessly crafted Broadway songcraft, irrepressible comedy and surprisingly nuanced meditations on the purpose of faith. It’s still a must-see, no matter how many times you’ve seen it.
**Looking for our review from last year's tour? Read it here.
3. Palm Beach Opera: “Enemies, a Love Story,” Feb. 20-22
If you ever thought that Isaac Bashevis Singer’s 1966 novel “Enemies, A Love Story,” would make a great opera—with its Holocaust survivor protagonist juggling a wife, an ex-wife and a mistress in 1948 New York—you’re not alone. The story, which was also adapted into a hit 1991 movie, will enjoy its operatic world premiere next year, courtesy of Palm Beach Opera, composer Ben Moore and librettist Nahma Sandrow. Darkly comic and lyrically beautiful, this piece flies in the face of the atonality of much of this company’s operatic repertoire. Likewise, any new work is a risk for a company accustomed to producing safe operas from the standard repertory, and Palm Beach Opera should already be commended for taking a chance and fostering what may become a future classic.
2. Lang Lang, Feb. 23
This impossibly accomplished pianist, from China, credits his introduction to music to an episode of “Tom and Jerry” that used as its soundtrack Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2. The rest is history, and quite a remarkable one: winning a local piano competition at age 5, winning an International Tchaikovsky Competition at 13, selling out Carnegie Hall at 19, and later making Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people. He’s since scored music for video games and Golden Globe-winning movies and performed for dignitaries including Barack Obama, Queen Elizabeth II and Vladimir Putin. To have him grace our presence, where he’ll perform compositions by Bach, Tchaikovsky and Chopin, is an honor.
1. Abraham in Motion, Dec. 19-20
The “Abraham” in Abraham in Motion refers to Kyle Abraham, a dance phenom who became one of just 24 artists nationwide to receive a MacArthur Fellowship in 2013. Abraham choreographs dance that is rooted in ‘90s hip-hop fashion, music and ethos, inspired by everything from the civil rights activist W.E.B. Du Bois to John Singleton’s culture-defining film “Boys N The Hood.” In his piece “Pavement,” which makes its South Florida premiere at the Kravis, he reimagines Singleton’s movie as a dance work set in the historically black neighborhoods of Pittsburgh, where the legacy of jazz titans and successful small businesses has degenerated into gang violence and crack houses. A history of discrimination, genocide and poverty colors this personal canvas of movement, a sure-to-be highlight of the Center’s “Provocative Entertainment at Kravis” series.
To view the Kravis Center's full 2014-2015 season schedule, visit kravis.org.