The Alberta Bair Theater has put together a season that includes Tony Award winner “Jersey Boys,” Grammy Award winning musical acts Bonnie Raitt and Bela Fleck & Brooklyn Rider, and a rare performance in the region by the Dance Theatre of Harlem.
The ABT announced its 30th season Thursday. It opens with the concert by singer-guitarist Raitt on Sept. 6.
Executive Director Jan Dietrich complimented programming director Jody Grant for working with a committee to put an exciting season together.
Dietrich described the 2016-17 season as transitional after the departure in July 2016 of longtime executive director William “Woody” Wood. The theater is also in the midst of a $10 million capital campaign to renovate the building, including upgrading the lighting and sound system to adhere to national standards.
“We’re excited to move into the future. It’s no longer if, but when,” Dietrich said.
The renovation will also expand the lobby, increase the number of restrooms and make repairs to the roof, which Dietrich said is leaking.
To illustrate the need for upgrades, Dietrich said the theater crew is scrambling to put up a third spotlight to accommodate the production of “Jersey Boys” on Dec. 8.
“The need is to satisfy our artists and provide the best experience we can for our audience,” Dietrich said.
Grant, who also serves as ABT marketing director, said Wood worked for years to bring in the Dance Theatre of Harlem, but the multi-cultural dance group rarely travels west of the Mississippi. They will perform on Oct. 6, and conduct four educational outreach programs as part of their visit.
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Billings native Kristin Korb, who sings and plays bass, will bring her trio to the ABT on Sept. 29, and members of the Billings Symphony Orchestra will play with vocal group Gentri on Oct. 27.
The Tony Award winning Broadway musical, “Rogers and Hammerstein's Cinderella,” will be performed Nov. 13, the 20th anniversary tour of "Rent” plays the ABT on Jan. 11, 2018, and “Cabaret” follows Jan. 28.
The ABT is experimenting with outreach, presenting the family musical, “The Wizard of Oz” at Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark on Dec. 3.
Larry Martin was acknowledged Thursday for serving 30 years as a board member. He is also part of the programming committee.
“He is a beacon for the theater and for Billings,” Grant said.
Martin said the ABT’s mission has never wavered from the early years when the goal was to bring the performing arts to Billings.
“The most rewarding thing is the community really embraces the theater,” Martin said. “It wouldn’t be Billings without the Alberta Bair.”
Single show tickets go on sale July 8 at 10 a.m. at the box office and at noon online at albertabairtheater.org or by phone at 406-256-6052.
Season subscribers can renew their subscriptions in mid-June and new subscribers can purchase tickets beginning the last week in June.