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In the Spotlight!

The Commanders Jazz Ensemble arrives Jan. 20.
The Commanders Jazz Ensemble arrives Jan. 20.

Wide mix of touring shows highlights Fox’s annual national, international lineup

Pat Metheny, Savion Glover, the Shaolin Warriors, the Mario Bros., and John Steinbeck (at least in spirit) are all on the way to the Martin Woldson Theater at The Fox for the 2012-2013 season.

They’re part of the Spotlight! Series, The Fox’s annual lineup of national and international touring shows. Spokane Symphony general manager Don Nelson, who booked the series, said his primary goal was simple: “to bring world-class artists to Spokane.”

Another of his goals: to present a wide variety of artistic genres. The series will include jazz, Chinese martial arts, a cappella vocals, an orchestral video-game extravaganza, a stage drama and dance.

Here’s the lineup:

Pat Metheny Unity Band, Sept. 12, 7:30 p.m. – Metheny has been one of the biggest names in jazz fusion for more than three decades – he even scored a Top 40 hit with David Bowie in 1985. This guitar prodigy has won a ridiculous number of Grammy Awards (19 at last count) in categories ranging from rock to jazz to New Age. Metheny will bring his latest ensemble, featuring three hot young jazz virtuosos: saxophonist Chris Potter, bassist Ben Williams and drummer Antonio Sanchez. Here’s hoping Metheny will also bring his 42-string Pikasso guitar. $30, $40.

Chanticleer, Sept. 30, 7:30 p.m. – These guys have won their share of Grammys, too. They are the world’s best-known male a cappella chorus – a 12-man “orchestra of voices” based in San Francisco. They cover just about the entire spectrum of vocal music, from classical to jazz to gospel to Renaissance. They even show up on the new soundtrack to the video game hit, “Halo: Combat Evolved.”

They played a sold-out show at St. Aloysius Church in Spokane in 2003. $22, $27, $32.

Shaolin Warriors, Oct. 8, 7:30 p.m. – They are a renowned kung fu troupe from China, but kung fu does not adequately describe their act. It’s almost like a fully choreographed dance show, or a “Cirque”-like acrobatic spectacle. These Shaolin-school-trained performers use their kung fu discipline to stage a series of whirlwind stunts involving spears, swords, feet and fists. They will bring a templelike set and some stunning costumes and lights. And, yes, there will be chanting. $27, $32, $37.

Video Games Live, Nov. 10, 8 p.m. – This is where the Mario Bros. come into the picture, not to mention Zelda. The Spokane Symphony and a portion of the Spokane Symphony Chorale will perform music from popular video games, while scenes from the games play on big screens. And there will also be lasers, lights, costumed characters and plenty of opportunities for live gaming.

Nelson said “gamers will know this music” because they have grown up with it all their lives. The producers call it an “immersive concert event,” and it has been a hit all over the world. $25, $33, $37.

“Of Mice and Men,” Nov. 12, 7:30 p.m. – Here’s a rare chance to see a nationally touring live drama: John Steinbeck’s powerful tale about the friendship between two migrant workers, George and Lennie. It will be staged by the Acting Co., the great New York institution founded by John Houseman.

It’s unusual for a touring production of a nonmusical to hit Spokane. “We hope there are enough people who want to see a top-class professional company do a masterpiece,” said Nelson. $25, $35.

Celebrate New Year’s with Beethoven’s Ninth, Dec. 31, 7:30 p.m. – This is the Spokane Symphony’s annual performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 (aka the Greatest Piece of Music Ever Written), which has now become a sold-out New Year’s Eve tradition. $16, $22, $27.

The Commanders Jazz Ensemble, Jan. 20, 3 p.m. – This 18-piece big band is part of the U.S. Air Force Band of the Golden West. They’ll play a variety of jazz styles, from traditional to bop, along with Broadway tunes and patriotic pieces. And you can’t complain about the price. It’s free, although you must reserve your free tickets through The Fox box office.

Savion Glover’s SoLe Sanctuary, March 2, 8 p.m. – Those who have seen Glover perform live, when his “Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk” came to Spokane in 2003, will not argue with the notion that he’s the best tap-dancer alive. This new show promises to show off his artistry and the larger possibilities of tap and dance. The show, performed in front of an “altar” to tap, includes only two other performers: another dancer and a person who “silently meditates” throughout the entire 80 minutes. $25, $35, $40.

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