WORTHINGTON — Ahhhhh.
People may now ease into spacious new seats and a fresh season of performances ranging from comedy to country to culture — and much more — at Memorial Auditorium Performing Arts Center.
“We had a wonderful 2018-19 season, with several sold-out shows, and this summer saw the completion of our seat replacement project, so we’re looking forward to a terrific 2019-20,” said Tammy Makram, MAPAC managing director.
“Audiences gave a great response to the new seats on the main level last year — we had many compliments on their comfort — so it was a huge improvement that was very necessary.”
From 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, the public is invited to view the completed balcony renovation, enjoy complimentary refreshments and preview promotional videos of MAPAC’s scheduled 2019-20 performers.
“Everyone is welcome,” said Makram, “and it’s a good opportunity to purchase tickets. The box office will also be open from 1 to 4 p.m.”
With 12 major presentations already on the books for 2019-20 and a few “additional surprises,” as Makram hints, to be revealed in the coming months, area patrons will want to take full advantage of everything that is happening at MAPAC.
First up is a production involving area youths, coordinated by the Dakota Players Children’s Theatre. The week-long theater camp will culminate in a musical entitled “X is for Zebra” that celebrates each child’s unique self at 2 p.m. Aug. 24. Auditions are scheduled for 8 a.m. Monday.
September rolls in with the arrival of Emmy-award winning comedian Louie Anderson at 7 pm. Sept. 7.
“Louie is a Minnesota native who was here in 2015, but he’s grown even more famous since then with appearances in two TV series, ‘Baskets’ and ‘Search Party,’” said Makram.
“He’s also been named by Comedy Central as one of the 100 greatest stand-up comedians of all time, and it took six months of schedule negotiations to book him.”
Makram assures that Anderson is eager to return to Worthington.
“We’d love to make this a sell-out,” she said.
On Sept. 21 at 7 p.m., the Stuart Pimsler Dance & Theater from Minneapolis will present a multi-media show called “Matinee” that incorporates dance, theater and film.
The Stuart Pimsler company will be in Worthington for a three-day residency, made possible by a Minnesota State Arts Board touring grant. In addition to their Sept. 21 presentation, the artists will be active in workshops within District 518 schools, with local dance students and at the Center for Active Living.
After appearing in Worthington, the Stuart Pimsler Dance & Theater troupe will spend portions of the following two weeks in similar residencies at Northfield and Fergus Falls.
“Family Tradition: Country Music Heirs” ushers in the fall at 7 p.m. Oct. 5. Georgette Jones, daughter of George Jones and Tammy Wynette, headlines this event, along with Dean Miller (son of Roger Miller) and David Frizzell (brother of Lefty Frizzell).
“We had a similar show here recently, and it was extremely popular,” said Makram. “We’re looking forward to selling out this one, too.
“The unique aspect of this is that not only does it provide fantastic musical performances, but it also delivers wonderful stories and insights into great country music legends.”
Another famous Minnesotan, Garrison Keillor, will be in town at 7 p.m. Oct. 19. He is scheduled to serve up a generous helping of Prairie Home Companion-style entertainment, accompanied by Rich Dworsky on the piano. Expect songs, poetry and all the news from Lake Woebegone on this evening.
At 7 p.m. Nov. 2, actor Jim Stowell will present the one-man show “The Things They Carried,” which is based on the acclaimed book by Worthington native Tim O’Brien.
Stowell, who is married to another former Worthingtonian, Jessica Zuehlke, wrote the show. “The Things They Carried” details a Vietnam War veteran’s recollections and reflections on the war and on his life before and during that experience.
To celebrate the holidays, Makram has programmed “Simple Gifts: Music for the Holidays” at 7 p.m. Dec. 14 .
“They performed here a number of years ago, and I’ve received many requests for their return,” said Makram. “They put on a beautiful show, especially for the holiday season.”
Those interested in laughing goodbye to 2019 are invited to a New Year’s Eve event with the Comedysportz Improv crew.
“They’re comedy performers who put together teams to compete for points based on the audience’s responses to their shtick,” explained Makram.
On Jan. 18, music fans can chill out to the cool vibes of Midwest Hall of Fame member Mary Jane Alm, along with acclaimed musicians Pamela McNeill and Aimee Lee.
“Wild Angels: Women of Rock, Pop & Country” will be accompanied by the hot backup band that includes many of the same players who have graced the MAPAC stage as part of the tribute shows to the Eagles and Fleetwood Mac. Some of the artists’ covers Alm and company will feature are from Adele, Madonna, The Dixie Chicks and Carrie Underwood, to name only a few.
Stretching all the way to March 28, The Fabulous Armadillos will be in town with “What’s Going On,” highlighting music from the Vietnam War era.
“Their live music is interspersed with media footage from that period and narration by a Vietnam War vet,” said Makram. “We’ve heard rave reviews about this from other performances they’ve given around the state.”
April 4 brings “Alma Andina: Soul of the Andes,” a Minneapolis-based group that draws its inspiration from a fusion of Latin American music and the heritage of the Andes Mountain region.
Rounding out the season is Philip Brunelle’s premier choral group VocalEssence on April 25.
“VocalEssence’s appearance is made possible by another Minnesota State Arts Board touring grant,” said Makram. “This will be not only a traditional concert, but also a chance for the audience to sing along.”
Makram points out that MAPAC patrons who choose to become 2019-20 season members enjoy a 10% discount on all ticket sales, with options for two to four free tickets based on one’s membership level.
“Membership can really pay off,” said Makram. “And it has the dual advantage of benefiting both the member and supporting the auditorium and its programs.”
MAPAC has grouped the 12 shows into six “show packages,” which, if purchased, can provide attendees with 15% off ticket prices.
“We strongly encourage people to support these performances throughout the season,” said Makram.
“And attendance has a snowball effect in that large, responsive audiences make positive impressions on the performers, who in turn spread the word to other performers about their wonderful experience here — and that makes it easier for us to book desirable acts,” Makram continued.
“We’re offering a huge batch of high quality entertainment close to home, and I know people will be thrilled to see any and all of these shows.”
More information about ticket prices, availability and discounts can be found at the MAPAC box office, 714 13th St., Worthington, on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tickets and information may also be obtained by calling 376-9101 or visiting friendsoftheauditorium.com. The public is invited to attend MAPAC’s 2019-20 open house from 1-4 p.m. Sunday, with free refreshments, videos of the 2019-20 performers and an open box office for ticket purchases.