TRAVERSE CITY — It's September — the season for concert, theater and film series around the region to roll out their new entertainment lineups. Here's a look at what's coming up.
The Bay Film Series
The popular series returns to The Bay Theatre this fall with eight award-winning films from countries including France, Germany, Japan, Iran, Israel/Palestine and Italy.
This year's independent, foreign and arthouse films were selected for their relatable characters, well-told stories and visual engagement, said Denis Sica, manager and programmer for The Bay Theatre. They run the gamut from the compelling family drama "A Separation" and the powerful political activism documentary "5 Broken Cameras," to the uplifting friendship comedy "The Intouchables," the innocent adventure film "I Wish" and the inspiring dance documentary "Pina."
"I look for high-quality films that are also a diverse collection, so that those who subscribe to the series will have a lot of different experiences," said Sica, who announces the final two films in late winter in order to take advantage of new films not yet released. "I look for good stories, but they really have to move me for me to think I want to share them. Sometimes a movie will just reach you and touch you and you don't even know why, exactly. It will stay with you. Those are the ones that mean something. They take you farther than that two-hour slot of time that you watch."
The series begins in September at the theater in downtown Suttons Bay. Subscriptions are $50; subscribers can choose from four screening times including Sundays at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m., Mondays at 6 p.m. and Tuesdays at 6 p.m.
To subscribe online, visit www.thebaytheatre.com. For a season brochure and order form, call 271-5800.
Dennos Museum Center
Patrons of this season's Dennos Museum Center Concert Series at Milliken Auditorium will enjoy a new sound system thanks to grants from Rotary Charities and a major private gift.
The new season begins in September with Chinese touring group Hanggai, who will open an exhibition of contemporary video art by Maio Xiaochun from Beijing. Other world performers include the Golden Dragon Acrobats (China), Kuniko Yamamoto (Japan), Dervish (Ireland), Cimarrón (Columbia) and Tiempo Libre (Cuba via Miami).
As usual the lineup includes plenty of blues, by artists Seeley and Baldori, Norma Jean, Magic Slim and the Teardrops, and Larry Garner, and jazz by vocalist Carol Leonhart.
Singer/songwriter Kenny White and the Bitchin' Babes round out the musical offerings. In a historical vein, Leslie McCurdy will give a one-woman performance as Harriet Tubman.
For ticket information, visit www.dennosmuseum.org or call 995-1553.
Old Town Playhouse
A new evening performance time and new opening weekend matinees for MainStage shows mark the upcoming season at the Old Town Playhouse in Traverse City.
The community theater season opens in September with "The Last Five Years," a musical with only two characters and some of the top sounds of contemporary Broadway. It's one of nine MainStage and Studio Theatre shows including classics like Oscar Wilde's "An Ideal Husband," vintage musicals like "Man of La Mancha," edgy comedies like "Pillowman" and "The Little Dog Laughed" and contemporary retellings of familiar stories like "Humble Boy" and "The Good Doctor."
By popular demand the new curtain time is 7:30 p.m., a half-hour earlier than in previous seasons, said OTP executive director Phil Murphy.
"We've talked about it for the last 10 years off and on," Murphy said. "The reason for it has to do with the way society has changed more than anything, plus a desire on the part of our audiences to have more of their evenings freer." An opening weekend matinee has been added for each MainStage show for much the same reason, he said.
This year's season was designed to appeal to a broader range of actors and audiences, Murphy said. While OTP audiences are generally older, shows like "Legally Blonde, the Musical" are expected to draw younger crowds.
"'Legally Blonde' is the hottest property right now," said Murphy, of the show inspired by the Reese Witherspoon movies. "Everybody's doing it."
Subscription packages range from $36 to $140 at www.oldtownplayhouse.com or 947-2210.
Met Opera Live in HD
The Metropolitan Opera's Peabody and Emmy Award-winning series is back this fall with 12 operas, beamed live in high definition from Lincoln Center in New York to Traverse City's State Theatre.
Besides five new productions, the season includes two Met premieres: Robert Lepage's production of Thomas Adès's "The Tempest," which opens in October, and David McVicar's production of Donizetti's "Maria Stuarda," which opens on New Year's Eve.
Other operas are: Donizetti's "L'Elisir d'Amore;" Verdi's "Otello," "Un Ballo in Maschera," "Aida" and "Rigoletto;" Mozart's "La Clemenza di Tito," Berlioz's "Les Troyens," Wagner's "Parsifal," Zandonai's "Francesca da Rimini" and Handel's "Giulio Cesare."
Public ticketing begins at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 4, in person, online (www.statetheatre.org) or by phone (947-3446). Prices are $26 for adults, $22 for seniors and $18 for children and students.
Because of audience response last year, reserved seating is back.