From primatologists to political humorists, folk rockers to glass artists, tribute acts to magic shows, Old School Square’s 2017-2018 season is arguably more eclectic than ever. Announced this week, the Delray arts campus’ schedule welcomes more than 60 entertainers from October to May.
The Crest Theatre’s bedrock cabaret, singer-songwriter and lecture series remain strong, while the addition of top-shelf tribute artists—“Billie Holiday” and “Neil Young” will take the stage—and a National Geographic Live series add new elements to the robust selection of talent.
We (quite subjectively) combed through the roster to find the five most exciting acts in next season’s lineup. Mark your calendars for these high-profile bookings, and visit Old School Square’s website under “All Events” for the complete breakdown.
Jason Bishop (Jan. 6-7, 2018)
This grand illusionist is, among other things, a case study in overcoming hardship. Orphaned as a child, the Newark native spent his first 18 years shuffling between foster homes, escaping his transient childhood with the transformative power of magic. He’s since become one of the most eclectic and sought-after magicians on the circuit. As known for his comedic asides and rock-powered soundtrack as his spectacular illusionists and sleights of hand, Bishop’s tricks include double levitations and plasma illusions, aided by cutting-edge technical gadgetry.
Annie Griffiths (Feb. 15, 2018)
This photographer helped shatter the glass ceiling at National Geographic by becoming one of the famed magazine’s first female photographers—a job that has allowed her to see, and document, nearly 150 countries. As comfortable capturing landscapes and fauna as she as is portraits and culture, Griffith’s best work explores the plight of young girls and women worldwide, particularly in such interrelated issues of climate change and food insecurity. She will share this mission, and stories from her exciting life, at afternoon and evening presentations on Feb. 15.
Roger McGuinn (March 14, 2018)
Don’t “Turn! Turn! Turn” away (sorry for that groaner) from this founder of the Byrds, one of the most influential folk-rock bands of all-time. McGuinn has been active in the music business for 60 years, initially climbing the studio ladder as a sideman for Judy Collins and other folksingers. Later with the Byrds, he helped fuse folk, rock, jazz and country into a plangent stew we now call Americana. Songs like “Eight Miles High” and “Mr. Spaceman” have become the standards of their generation, and at 74, McGuinn still captures their harmonic, youthful spirit.
“Million Dollar Quartet” (March 17-18, 2018)
As the story goes, for one fraught night in December of 1956, four musical titans descended on the Sun Records studio in Memphis: Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins. Gathered at the behest of Sun impresario Sam Phillips, the members of this impromptu jam session were not known for playing nice together, and this jukebox musical dramatizes both the great music and the inflated egos, and the internecine squabbles and thrilling collaborations. Though the show isn’t new to South Florida—Actors’ Playhouse in Coral Gables produced a gangbusters version last year—it’s never played Delray before, and this touring version is a real treat for such an intimate theater.
James Judd (June 2, 2018)
The world has enough comedians and actors. But humorists and monologists? Those personalities are a rarer breed: Think Spalding Gray, David Sedaris and this guy, NPR personality James Judd, who makes a living memorizing his misadventures as a banned journalist and turning them into hilarious spoken-word recollections performed at a whiplash pace. His stories include “accidentally” winding up in a Chinese brothel, and imagining a shark’s dive off the coast of New England. He records a podcast (who doesn’t?), but it’s way better to see this whirling dervish perform his monologues live.