Pablo Center at the Confluence Announces Premiere Lineup

Eric Christenson

Newly installed seats inside the RCU Theater, the Pablo Center at the Confluence's large theater. (Image: Pablo Center)
Newly installed seats inside the RCU Theater, the Pablo Center at the Confluence's large theater. (Image: Pablo Center)

After 6-plus years of gathering ideas, planning, building, shaping, rethinking, finessing, and dreaming big, the inaugural season of shows at the Pablo Center at the Confluence is finally upon us. On September 22, Eau Claire’s new arts center officially opens its doors, and the program of artists and performers slated to bring their talents to our city ranges wide and deep. 

The project has lived for so long as an abstract idea. Soon it will truly be the tangible, artistic force it was meant to be. This feels like a special moment – one we’ve been leading up to for a long time. That time and community effort is not lost on the Pablo’s Director of Artistic Programming Brenna St. George Jones, who told us she feels the pressure to deliver something really special this inaugural season.

"The stakes are really, really high,” St. George Jones said. "Even in a city the size of New York, this place would be a splash. But here, with all of the time and energy and emotion and everything the community has put into this thing, the stakes are higher. It matters more. It carries more weight. It was incredibly important to me to build a season that is worthy of that energy and that effort.”

St. George Jones and her team have put together a truly stellar first season that will be bring exceptional artists, dancers, musicians, comedians, puppeteers, and even dinosaurs to Eau Claire – most of which, it seems, would never have been able to happen in this city without a place like this. Between the multiple stages, art galleries, and other artistic and educational spaces that fill the building, world class music and art is gonna be pouring out of this thing on a regular basis from here on out.

St. George Jones said her goal with this first season was to honor the rich traditions of the Chippewa Valley’s performing arts scene, while pushing boundaries to bring audiences out of their comfort zone to experience some shows that are unabashedly unique.

"You can have tradition and still have innovation,” St. George Jones said. "Those two things can happily exist side by side. And sometimes that’s when the most exciting things happen."

So without further ado...

Pablo Center exterior copper work. (Image: Lee Butterworth)
Pablo Center exterior copper work. (Image: Lee Butterworth)

PABLO PRESENTS

The Pablo Center’s programming, from dance to drums, from ballet to country, from jazz to puppets, and everything in between. (Note: Rental shows and some touring productions are not included in this list and will be announced at a later date.)

Cloud Cult • September 28, 2018 • RCU Theatre • The common thread through what Cloud Cult does as a creative collective is their uplifting message; a continual celebration of life and love and catharsis through music.

Whose Live Anyway? • October 3, 2018 • RCU Theatre • 90 minutes of hilarious improvised comedy and song all based on audience suggestions featuring cast members Ryan Stiles, Greg Proops, Jeff B. Davis, and Joel Murray.

Phantom Tollbooth October 13, 2018 • RCU Theatre • Enchantment Theatre Company is bringing this fantastical, captivating story to the stage. Using puppets, masks, magic, inventive scenic effects and original music, the wonder and adventure of the story comes alive.

Ganavya Doraiswamy • October 18, 2018 • Jamf Theatre • Vocalist, scholar, and composer Ganavya Doraiswamy has carved a niche for herself at the nexus of South Indian vocal styles and contemporary music. With an anchor in jazz standards that she has translated to Tamil from English, she showcases a linguistic command over her two mother-tongues.

Tony Jackson • October 26, 2018 • RCU Theatre • Tony Jackson is one of the most gifted singers ever to grace country music. On the first-time and lesser known songs Jackson mints his own classics, and with such memorable excursions as “Drink By Drink,” “Old Porch Swing” he shines as a keen-eyed songwriter in his own right.

Ailey II October 27, 2018 • RCU Theatre • A company of 12 on-their-way-to-the-top dancers and a repertory of works by emerging talents fresh out of the rehearsal room. The Ailey II dancers travel year-round to share their “off-the-charts energy” (The New Yorker) with audiences around the world – with a tour schedule unlike any other second company.

Kate Lindsey / Baptiste Trotignon November 1, 2018 • Jamf Theatre • Inspired by their 2017 album of the same name, Thousands of Miles is born out of an encounter between mezzo-soprano Kate Lindsey and jazz pianist Baptiste Trotignon. Closing the distance between classical music and Broadway, between the old and new worlds, between opera and jazz.

Cassel / Block • November 9, 2018 • Jamf Theatre • Together, these dynamic performers – Hanneke Cassel and Mike Block – present a diverse and exciting show featuring traditional and original music drawing from their Celtic, Americana, and Classical backgrounds. 

The Oak Ridge Boys • November 26, 2018 • RCU Theatre • Every time they step before an audience, the Oaks bring four decades of charted singles, and 50 years of tradition, to a stage show widely acknowledged as among the most exciting anywhere. And each remains as enthusiastic about the process as they have ever been.

Blind Boys Of Alabama • January 25, 2019 • RCU Theatre • Hailed as “gospel titans” by Rolling Stone, the Blind Boys first rose to fame in the segregated south with their thrilling vocal harmonies and roof-raising live show, launching a 70-year recording career that would see them rack up five Grammy Awards (plus one for Lifetime Achievement), enter the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, collaborate with everyone from Mavis Staples and Stevie Wonder to Prince and Lou Reed, and perform on the world’s most prestigious stages.

Edgar Meyer • February 9, 2019 • Jamf Theatre • Edgar Meyer has formed a role in the music world unlike any other. Meyer’s unparalleled technique and musicianship in combination with his gift for composition have brought him to the fore, where he is appreciated by a vast, varied audience. 

Kodo Taiko • February 23, 2019 • RCU Theatre • The taiko: a traditional Japanese drum with limitless rhythmic possibilities. Kodo’s mission is to explore these possibilities, and in the process forge new directions for a vibrant living art-form. Thunderous, primal, and powerful.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar • February 24, 2019 RCU Theatre • This critically acclaimed production of The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show created by Jonathan Rockefeller features a menagerie of 75 lovable puppets. The production faithfully adapts four stories by author/ illustrator Eric Carle: Brown Bear, Brown Bear, 10 Little Rubber Ducks, The Very Lonely Firefly and of course, the star of the show – The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Erth’s Prehistoric Aquarium Adventure • March 8, 2019 • RCU Theatre • Take your family on an all new adventure – this time to the bottom of the ocean. Erth shows are at the forefront of family entertainment, using actors, technology, puppets, science and imagination to create an amazing visual experience that connects young audiences to the real science of paleontology.

La Caverne (The Torch Sisters) • March 22, 2019 • Jamf Theatre • Late night, playful and sexy; Eau Claire’s own Torch Sisters invite you to their first evening-length work, La Caverne, a breathtaking blend of aerial artistry, flow arts, and burlesque paying homage to Maud Phillips – a.k.a. Violet Leigh – Eau Claire’s “Mad Poetess of the Cave.” Inspired by the outspoken turn-of-the-century poetesses’ love affairs, writings, and rebel spirit the Torch Sisters present a variety show like no other.

Air Play • March 27, 2019 • RCU Theatre • Ride the wind and dream with Air Play, a modern spectacle that brings to life the very air we breathe. Flying umbrellas, larger-than-life balloons, giant kites floating over the audience, and the biggest snow globe you’ve ever seen will make you gasp in wonder and laugh until it hurts.

Brooklyn Rider • April 10, 2019 • Jamf Theatre • String quartet Brooklyn Rider offers eclectic repertoire in gripping performances that continue to attract legions of fans and draw rave reviews from classical, world, and rock critics alike. 

Aaron Diehl • April 11, 2019 • RCU Theatre • Pianist Aaron Diehl is one of the country’s most sought after jazz virtuosos. Diehl’s meticulously thought-out performances, collaborations, and compositions are a leading force in today’s generation of jazz contemporaries, spearheading a distinct union of traditional and fresh artistry.

Les Ballets Trockadero De Monte Carlo • April 17, 2019 • RCU Theatre • Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo have established themselves as an international dance phenomenon. Playful, brilliant, entertaining, high art and high camp; this company of professional male dancers performing the full range of the ballet and modern dance repertoire is unlike anything you’ve ever seen.

Farewell Angelina • April 19, 2019 • RCU Theatre • An all-female country group featuring four powerhouse vocalists, dynamic songwriters and badass multi instrumentalists. Together Farewell Angelina’s magic blend of a multitude of stringed instruments, two blazing violins, and unique harmonies have taken Nashville by storm, and that enthusiasm is now spreading – thanks in part to live shows that bring down the house.

SET LIST

The Pablo Center’s live music program is called Set List, where they plan to bring some nationally-renowned musicians to Eau Claire for one-of-a-kind performances. More show announcements are on the way, but here are three already-announced Set List shows.

Phil Cook • October 20, 2018 • Jamf Theatre
Ray LaMontagne October 29, 2018 • RCU Theatre
The Tallest Man On Earth • November 19, 2018 • RCU Theatre

CONSTITUENT GROUPS & SHOWS

Shows produced for the Pablo stage by the Chippewa Valley’s arts community.

Eau Claire Children’s Theatre 
Cinderella • Nov. 16-18, 2018 
The Giver • Jan. 4, 2019 
Dragons Love Tacos • Feb. 8-9, 2019 
Disney's Beauty and the Beast • March 15-17, 2019 
Peter Pan • July 24-28, 2019 

Volume One 
True North • Nov. 16-17, 2018 
Hullabaloo • June 1, 2019 

Master Singers 
America, My Home 2018 • Oct. 14, 2018 

UW-Eau Claire 
A Grand Night for Singing • Nov. 8-9, 2018 
Holiday Concert • December 9, 2018 
She Kills Monsters • December 11-16, 2018 
The House of Blue Leaves • March 7-9, 13-17, 2019 
Confluence Dance Project • Apr. 4-5, 2019 
Don Giovanni • May 9-12, 2019

Chippewa Valley Symphony Orchestra 
October Concert • Oct. 6, 2018 
December Concert with Special Guest Chippewa Valley Jazz Orchestra • Dec. 8, 2018 
February Concert • Feb. 2, 2019 
March Concert • March 2, 2019 
May Concert • May 18, 2019 

Eau Claire Chamber Orchestra 
A New Era • Sept. 29, 2018 
Baroque Treasures • Nov. 10, 2018 
Family and Friends • Jan. 26, 2019 
Norwegian Conference with special guest The Master Singers • March 23, 2019 
American Dreams • May 4, 2019 

Chippewa Valley Theatre Guild 
Fun Home • Oct. 4-7, 2018 
Mamma Mia! • Apr. 25-28, 2019 
Footloose the Musical • June 27-30, 2019 

Chippewa Valley Jazz Orchestra 
Wayne Bergeron • Oct. 19, 2018
WISCO In The House with guest artists Andrew Neesley & Mel Flannery • Feb. 23, 2019 
Trombone-orama with special guest Andy Martin • May 3, 2019

ART GALLERIES

Exhibitions running at the Pablo Center’s two free, open-to-the-public art galleries highlighting the best of regional and national artists across a variety of media.

James W. Hansen Gallery 
Homecoming: The Confluence of Art Annual Exhibition • September 22 - October 19, 2018 
We Went To The Woods: Artwork inspired by the wild outdoors • October 26 - December 7, 2018 
Luminis Artis: The Art of Light • December 14, 2018 - January 25, 2019 
Give The Best That You Have In You: UW-Eau Claire Alumni Art Exhibit • February 1 - March 15, 2019 
Fabulous Florals & Fine Art • March 20-24, 2019 
Then: Founding Artists of the Chippewa Valley • March 29 - May 17, 2019 
Now: Emerging Artists of the Chippewa Valley • May 24 - July 12, 2019 
Footprints/Memories: Eco art and the global canvas • July 19 - September 6, 2019

Graham Avenue Walking Gallery 
An Artist Forever: Highlights of the Laurie Bieze Permanent Art Collection • September 22 - November 9, 2018 
A Seat At The Table: Women Artists of the Chippewa Valley • November 16, 2018 - January 18, 2019 
Chippewa Valley Symphony Orchestra: Student Art Exhibit • January 25 - March 15, 2019 
Fabulous Florals & Fine Art • March 20-24, 2019 
Everything You Can Imagine Is Real: An exhibit of high school student art • March 29 - May 31, 2019 
Reflected Light: GO Paint and the Art of Plein Air Painting in the Chippewa Valley • June 7 - August, 2019

BOX OFFICE & TICKETING

Tickets for the 2018-19 season will be available for purchase via the Pablo Center website on Thursday, August 23 at 10am. Visit PabloCenter.org for more information, a full listing of events, and to order tickets when they go on sale. Tickets will only be available for purchase online for the time being. The box office will officially open on Saturday, September 22. For questions, please email info@pablocenter.org.

PABLO CENTER GRAND OPENING

Grand Opening Celebration • September 22, 2018 • 12pm - 5:30pm • Free and Open to the Public 
A day and night of community, art, and gala celebration. The Pablo Center opens its doors with a day of free public performances, where you can explore the building, grab a bite to eat from local food trucks, visit the art galleries, and enjoy music and dance by some of the Chippewa Valley’s best.

Rare Treasures September 22, 2018 • 7:30pm • Tickets Available Online August 23 
The RCU stage is the setting for Cabinet of Curiosities, a theatrical and musical celebration of the nature of wonder. Terrene is a Pablo Center commissioned world premiere work pairing images by designer/sculptor/puppeteer Chris M. Green with the music of UW-Eau Claire resident composer Chiayu Hsu. The second half of the program is called Firebird, a lush puppet and dance masterpiece telling an epic tale of good and evil, integrating light, puppetry, and Stravinsky’s thrilling music played by the Chippewa Valley Symphony Orchestra directed by Nobuyoshi Yasuda.


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