At midseason WMPAC reports record attendance for 2017 winter performances

EBS STAFF

The Warren Miller Performing Arts Center prides itself on providing novel, unique experiences to its audiences. But this season, there’s one feature of WMPAC shows that’s becoming almost ordinary: the crowds.

The Center passes the halfway point in their 2017 winter season with the sold-out Reggie Watts performance on March 3. John Zirkle, WMPAC’s artistic director, expects record ticket sales to continue for the remaining three performances of the season.

Single-performance events early in the season such as Rhythmic Circus and Roomful of Teeth sold out; and two-show performances of “The Winter’s Tale” and by illusionist Mike Super have come close, “shattering ticket sales from past seasons,” according to Zirkle.

“Mike Super was actually our highest attendance ever,” Zirkle said, adding that, as another WMPAC landmark, the Watts performance has been sold out for two months, with the first significant waiting list in the center’s history. 

“My sense is people have now put getting their tickets for WMPAC on their calendar,” he said. “They’ve come to trust that they want to see what we are offering, and there is much less of that behavior of waiting to decide if they have a conflict, or if they really want to attend.”  

The final three shows of the season—a Friday, March 10 performance by The Trio Project, an internationally-renowned ensemble led by jazz pianist Hiromi; the return of James Sewell Ballet on Saturday, March 18; and a one-man, bluegrass-infused original theater production based on Moby Dick on Saturday, March 25—are likely to generate full houses as well.

Pianist-composer Hiromi is the latest in a line of talented Japanese musicians. Ever since the release of her 2003 debut album “Another Mind,” the musician has electrified audiences and critics around the world with a creative energy that encompasses and eclipses the boundaries of jazz, classical and pop parameters, but defies definition.

WMPAC had to arrange a special deal that tied together shippers, piano representatives and specialized tuners from Montana to California to bring Hiromi’s Yamaha CFIIIS, which retails for over $100,000, to this mountain stage.  

Hiromi’s new album “Spark”—her 10th as a band leader—features the critically acclaimed Trio Project, completed by contrabass guitarist Anthony Jackson, who has played with the likes of Steely Dan and Paul Simon; and Simon Phillips, former drummer of Toto and The Who.

No less complicated than importing Hiromi’s piano, Phillips’ specialized drum kit also has to be shipped in specially and will take at least three hours to set up—unheard of in WMPAC technical history.

Big Sky has become something of a home away from home for the Minnesota-based James Sewell Ballet. Returning to WMPAC for their 8th performance, Sewell will present a new ballet set to Mendelssohn’s “Octet for Strings in E-flat Major Op. 20” which was conceived in Big Sky last summer during the Twin Sky Dance Intensive, part of the Big Sky Conservatory program.
For the second act, be prepared to be taken into completely new territory with “Killer Pig,” which provides a glimpse into the minimalistic, intensely honest and uncompromisingly physical origins of the L-E-V dance company founded by Israel’s Sharon Eyal and Gai Behar. Together, both acts demonstrate the company’s ability to synthesize classical ballet with unpredictable combinations and a relentless taste for adventure.

Tickets are still available for both of these upcoming performances.

“Ultimately, we are a small theater in a small community so even when we sell out, the experience feels easy and intimate,” Zirkle said. “And all of our seats are great.” 

Learn more about the upcoming shows at the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center and find tickets at warrenmillerpac.org.