New year brings new performers, major productions to Gainesville


The national tour of “Rock of Ages” will bring the musical to the Phillips Center on Jan. 10.

Courtesy of “Rock of Ages”
Published: Thursday, January 2, 2014 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, December 31, 2013 at 2:19 p.m.

New year’s resolutions are another way of looking ahead to the coming year — a hopeful approach in welcoming what’s on the horizon. When it comes to arts and entertainment, the first two months of 2014 offer a slate of nationally and internationally renowned performers and productions coming our way.

Here’s a look at what’s ahead among major performances coming to Gainesville as 2014 begins:

“Rock of Ages,” Broadway’s quintessential jukebox musical that rocketed in popularity with such ’80s anthems as “Don’t Stop Believin’” as the fuel, will have everyone believin’ when the production’s national tour hits the Phillips Center on Jan. 10.

The same weekend, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus makes its first appearance at the O’Connell Center — bringing to town one of the first performances in a new production called “Super Circus Heroes.” Though the action is set in one ring as opposed to Ringling’s traditional three-ring arena shows, Gainesville audiences can expect to see acrobats and aerialists along with animals from camels to elephants and no shortage of clowns just as they would in any Ringling production set under “the big top.” Performances are planned at Jan. 10 at 7 p.m.; Jan. 11 at 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.; and Jan. 12 at 1 p.m.

An icon of classical music and often considered the preeminent living violinist in the world, Itzhak Perlman will perform at the Phillips Center on Jan. 30. The internationally popular virtuoso, who will appear with pianist Rohan De Silva, had been scheduled to perform at the Phillips Center in 2008 but the concert was canceled to a shoulder injury.

Another internationally renowned musical figure — Pat Metheny — will return to the Phillips Center for a performance on Feb. 6. Last appearing on the Phillips stage as part of his solo “Orchestron” tour in April 2010, the guitarist’s return performance will have him sharing the stage with his latest ensemble project, the Pat Metheny Unity Group.

Two other prominent musical performances in February will feature the Irish Rovers Farewell Tour on Feb. 14 and the Take 6 Project on Feb. 15-16. The former is part of a 2-year final jaunt around the world for the Celtic group (which formed in Toronto though its members hail from Ireland), while the latter will have the famed a cappella group taking part in a local singing competition in the afternoon and performing its own evening concert at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 15.

Also planned among February’s major performances are stops by two other renowned musicals on national tours: “Man of La Mancha,” Broadway’s take on “Don Quixote” that won five Tony Awards in the 1960s, will play the Phillips Center on Feb. 11; and “Memphis,” the recent Broadway hit inspired by the real life of a white disc jockey who became one of the first to play music by black artists in the 1950s, will stop at the Phillips Center on Feb. 21.

For more information for above performances at the Phillips Center, all of which begin at 7:30 p.m., call 392-2787; for performances at the O’Connell Center, call the University Box Office at 392-1653. For tickets or information online for any of the above performances, see Ticketmaster.com.

Contact Entertainment Editor Bill Dean at 374-5039 or at bill.dean@gvillesun.com, and follow on Twitter @SceneBillDean.

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