Star Power: Spring Arts Preview

Big anniversaries and big names take center stage in Coastal Virginia as the arts roar back in a big way for spring 2022

by | Mar 22, 2022

For the last 25 years, spring for arts lovers in Coastal Virginia has meant the Virginia Arts Festival and local stages are set for an encore-worthy return to full form for the Festival in 2022.

“The Festival is so thrilled to welcome some of the world’s greatest performers to Coastal Virginia for our 25th season celebration,” says Virginia Arts Festival Executive Director Robert Cross. “Some audience favorites such as Kristin Chenoweth, Renée Fleming, Yo-Yo Ma and the American Ballet Theatre will return for our celebration in addition to amazing artists such as Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, Martina McBride, Rosanne Cash, Cowboy Junkies and Renée Elise Goldsberry, Tony Award-winning star of Hamilton.”

As they have done for the past two decades, the Festival will also showcase local artists in new, original productions, including The Sound of Music  with the Virginia Opera and Virginia Symphony Orchestra and Dream Girls with the Virginia Stage Company and Norfolk State University Theatre Company.  Be sure to check the Festival’s website at VAFest.org for the entire season schedule.

And, of course, Arts Festival offerings are just the beginning for a big, star-packed season for the arts. From a dark and glittering cosmos created by artist Lauren Fensterstock at the Chrysler Museum of Art to the Virginia Symphony Orchestra bringing to life Beethoven’s immortal Ninth Symphony, prepare to be dazzled.

Here are our editorial picks for the season’s don’t-miss events.

Curtis Eley – Clear Night at the Naro

Hampton Arts League Member Exhibition
Various Artists
Now Through April 9
Charles H. Taylor Visual Arts Center

“Support local” and “buy local” means local artists, too! Show your love for these artists by visiting the annual Hampton Arts League Member Exhibition, presenting a diverse selection of work created by emerging and established Coastal Virginia-based artists working in a variety of media. HamptonArts.net

Night Light
Various Artists, Superblue
Now Through May 15
Mary M. Torggler Fine Arts Center

 The inaugural exhibition at CNU’s new fine arts center brings together five artists who manipulate light and shadow to reveal and re-interpret patterns and behaviors found in nature. The show was organized by Superblue, which creates immersive art experiences at its galleries in Miami and London. TheTorggler.org

Image courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and Claire Oliver Gallery Photo by Ron Blunt

The Totality of Time Lusters the Dusk
Lauren Fensterstock
Now through June 19
Chrysler Museum of Art

Be transported into a darkened and glittering cosmos with this immersive installation by Lauren Fensterstock. The artist’s three-dimensional sculptures of a comet and rain clouds are encrusted with materials such as crystals, obsidian and hematite and hover over a lush garden landscape. Chrysler.org

Motion/Emotion: Exploring Affect from Automata to Robots
Various Artists
Now through July 3
Barry Art Museum

Can robots help us better understand ourselves? Science, art and the complexities of the human experience come to life in this exhibition pairing the Museum’s permanent collection of automata with the work of contemporary artists, Elizabeth King and Joseph Morris, and scientists. BarryArtMuseum.odu.edu

The Miss Firecracker Contest
March 11-April 3
Little Theatre of Virginia Beach

Let the Fourth of July fireworks begin with this heartwarming work by playwright Beth Henley, whose work, according to The New York Times, “transforms eccentricity into extraordinariness, and punctuates oddball comedy with bursts of all-embracing compassion.” Find out who will be crowned this year’s “Miss Firecracker.” LTVB.com

Fountain of You
Hatchery Series
March 17-April 3
Zeiders American Dream

Want to see something truly fresh? Head over Zeiders American Dream Theatre in Virginia Beach, where they are on a mission to showcase new work by emerging artists. Fountain of You is an irreverent, feminist chamber musical about a 30-something actress hoping to get her life back in a youth-obsessed industry. TheZ.org

Walk on The Wild Side 2022
Various Artists
March 24–May 3
Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts

The wonders of wildlife never fail to inspire, and artists throughout the ages have sought to capture them. Back by popular demand, the third annual Walk on the Wild Side exhibition will feature the beauty of wildlife and include collectible decoys, sculptures, paintings and photographs. SuffolkCenter.org                 

Don Quixote – ABT

Don Quixote
American Ballet Theatre with Virginia Symphony Orchestra
March 25-27
Chrysler Hall

One of the world’s great ballet companies, American Ballet Theatre, returns to the Virginia Arts Festival with a lush and fiery favorite from the classical ballet repertoire—Don Quixote. Based on Cervantes’ classic novel, this full-length story ballet is a feast of choreographic fireworks for diehard balletomanes and newbies alike. VAFest.org

Marriage of Figaro
Virginia Opera
March 25-27
Harrison Opera House

Now that Virginia Opera is back to in-theater performances at last, they hope to have you LOL-ing from your favorite seat in the house with Mozart’s joyfully absurd comedy The Marriage of Figaro.  All the “scheming and wooing, flirting and foolishness,” is matched only by Mozart’s ecstatic brilliance and a fantastic finale. VAOpera.org

Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony
Virginia Symphony Orchestra
April 1-3
Ferguson Center, Chrysler Hall, Sandler Center

Few works of the orchestral repertoire inspire such fervor, but then, Beethoven’s Ninth is no ordinary piece of music. It was revolutionary when it premiered, and it endures because the composer was grappling with the most fundamental aspects of humanity.  Join conductor Eric Jacobsen and company for this unforgettable evening. VirginiaSymphony.org

The Great Gatsby
Aquila Theatre Company
April 8
Attucks Theatre

In their Virginia Arts Festival debut, Aquila Theatre brings a new look at F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, with a more inclusive adaptation and characters that pay homage to innovators of the jazz era. Fittingly, the performance takes place at Norfolk’s storied Attucks Theatre, where many jazz legends have graced the stage. VAFest.org

Sleeping Beauty
Ballet Virginia
April 9-10
Sandler Center for Performing Arts

Join the Lilac Fairy as she saves Princess Aurora and her kingdom from Carabosse’s evil spell. Watch Prince Florimund awaken his Sleeping Beauty from her slumber and follow them to their “happily ever after.” Ballet Virginia’s talented professional company brings this timeless classic to life. BalletVirginia.org

Dreamgirls
Virginia Stage Company & Norfolk State University
April 13-May 1
Wells Theatre

One of two original productions being staged as part of the 2022 Virginia Arts Festival, this collaboration between VSC and NSU promises a sweeping, inspirational journey through 20th century American pop music, gospel, R&B, disco and more—chronicling one Motown group’s rise from obscurity to superstardom. VAStage.org

The Full Monty
Virginia Musical Theatre
April 29-May 1
Sandler Center for the Performing Arts

You asked for it, you got it: The Full Monty. Based on the cult hit comedy film, this 10-time Tony Award nominee is a riot of memorable melodies and a story that is full of heart, based on the tale of a group of unemployed steelworkers who hatch a plan to become male strippers. You won’t want to miss their big finale. VMTheatre.org

The Sound of Music
Virginia Opera
May 13-15
Harrison Opera House

The hills are alive with the sound of a new, original full production of the classic musical The Sound of Music, as the Virginia Arts Festival and Virginia Opera join forces with acclaimed Broadway music director Rob Fisher conducting the Virginia Symphony Orchestra and director Mary Birnbaum. This is a don’t-miss among don’t-misses this spring. VAFest.org

The New Adventures of Tortoise and Hare: The Next Generation
Lightwire Theater
April 23
The American Theatre

Since bursting to national acclaim after appearing as semi-finalists on America’s Got Talent, Lightwire Theater has enthralled audiences with a unique combination of skill and grace told through the technological innovations of moving light characters. The company comes to Hampton with an adaptation of Aesop’s classic fable. HamptonArts.net 

Virginia Symphony Orchestra

Kristin Chenoweth and Renée Fleming
Virginia Symphony Orchestra
May 21
Chrysler Hall

What better way to celebrate 25 years of the Virginia Arts Festival than a diva double bill worthy of The Great White Way? You know her, you love her: the irrepressible Kristin Chenoweth (Glinda the Good Witch in Broadway’s Wicked) will take the stage alongside Renée Fleming, whose sumptuous voice and compelling stage presence are the stuff of legend. VAFest.org

 

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