Shryock Auditorium on the campus of Southern Illinois University at Carbondale is one of the key sights for finding high-quality entertainment in southern Illinois, but this year the show season bookings seem to have stepped out of the safe zone.
The season which runs concurrent with the SIU school year, began with opening night for the national touring company of “Spring Awakening”. This Broadway musical won eight Tony Awards in 2007 and the Broadway run of the show was filled with controversy, including some questions about whether the leads actually had sex on stage.
The show is based on an 1891 play and addresses everything from homosexuality to child sexual abuse, abortion, love and suicide. The Carbondale show included exposed breasts and an exposed penis as well as several simulated sex acts. It may have been the single most risqué show the nearly 93-year-old theater has ever seen.
And audience members were sure to see the shocking revelations. With just 1,214 seats, there is not a bad seat in the house.
And the effort to appeal to a more diverse audience while throwing a greater variety into the mix, continues throughout the season. On Halloween weekend, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, a nationally known swing band, rocked the house.
On November 2, Alvin Ailey II, the second company of The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater merges the spirit and energy of the country’s best young dance talent with the passion and creative vision of Alvin Ailey for an evening of dance featuring the Avin Ailey masterpiece: REVELATIONS.
A week later, Shryock welcomes the national touring company of “Cats”, with shows at 7:30 p.m. November 9 and November 10.
November 12 the Oak Ridge Boys return to the Shryock stage, bringing their country Christmas show to the auditorium and on November 18, the Southern Illinois Symphony Orchestra presents “Opera and Jazz,” an eclectic mix of music.
In December, it’s Christmas presentations from the university’s music programs with the Choral Union and Concert Choir performing December 2 and the SIU Wind Ensemble & Southern Illinois Civic Orchestra performing December 9.
To finish out the holidays, the Willow Street Dance Company will present the ballet “The Nutcracker”, on December 18 and December 19.
Planning for the spring shows is incomplete at this time, but some events have been added to the schedule. The annual SIUC School of Music Solo Competition and a newly created composition contest will take place February 10, 2011, and March 29, 2011, the Southern Illinois Symphony Orchestra will join with the Southeast Missouri University Orchestra to perform “Pictures at Exhibition”.
And currently, just to make sure that season ends with the same spirit it had at kick off, the Broadway musical and puppet show “Avenue Q” closes out the season April 16. The show is advertised as being for mature audiences and after the shock of “Spring Awakening,” Shryock visitors seem more inclined to take the warning seriously.
The 2010-2011 season at Shryock offers more diverse entertainment options than ever before. For more information see: http://shryock.siuc.edu/events