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WMPAC announces winter season

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In its six years, the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center has established a reputation for creating totally original line-ups each year. The 2019 winter season is no exception, with new-to-WMPAC performances by luminaries such as “This American Life” creator and host Ira Glass, and comedian Tig Nataro on the schedule. There will also be immersive, innovative artistic experiences—including a season opener which will transform the entire theater into a giant string instrument. And, for the first time, Artistic Director John Zirkle has included a couple of repeat performances of audience favorites such as The Wonderheads and Take 6 who will return to the WMPAC stage as part of the eight-act season.

The season opens Dec. 28 with William Close and the Earth Harp Collective. The Collective, and their array of original instruments—quadruple-necked guitars, musical body armor, revolving drum sets, and a gigantic harp that strings 50-foot wires over the audience’s heads—could be described as a sonic Cirque du Soleil.

WMPAC then brings two back-to-back musical groups beginning with Take 6, the most awarded a cappella group in history with 10 Grammys under their belt, on Jan. 5. They’re followed on Jan. 19 by the boundary-shifting chamber ensemble Eighth Blackbird, who will perform incendiary music by Bryce Dessner from The National on Jan. 19.

The center’s sixth season also includes theater and storytelling: Tig Notaro, fresh off the success of her Netflix special and a national tour, will bring her incisive stand-up comedy to Big Sky on Feb. 2.

“Tig’s show is going to sell out, no question,” Zirkle said. “She’s changed the landscape of comedy, and it’s going to be really special to see her in such an intimate space.”

On Feb. 23, the off-Broadway musical “The Last Five Years” comes to WMPAC. It was named one of TIME’s 10 Best Shows when it was released in 2001, and has enjoyed numerous revivals since then. The two-person show traces the formation and dissolution of a relationship in an unexpected manner, with one character telling their story backwards and the other chronologically.

Perhaps the most innovative show of the season features Ira Glass, host of NPR’s “This American Life.” Glass had partnered with dancer Monica Bill Barnes to craft a performance that pairs storytelling and dance. Glass will share stories from his own life, dramatized and enhanced by dance. The show premiered at Carnegie Hall in 2013, and comes to WMPAC on March 9.

Continuing their longstanding relationship with Big Sky, the James Sewell Ballet returns to the WMPAC stage on March 23, and the season closes March 30 with the physical theater company The Wonderheads, which illustrates contemporary stories with European mask traditions.

This year, for the first time, WMPAC is rolling out a three-performance package offer.

“It’s a way to reward our audience for their commitment to the arts in Big Sky,” Zirkle said. Between Nov. 15 and Dec. 1, those who buy tickets for any three WMPAC events will receive a 25 percent discount. Tickets for individual shows will go on sale Dec. 1.

“Big Sky is now a destination for excellence in the arts,” Zirkle said. “And we’re going to see that over and over again this season. Quite simply, the bar has been raised.”

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