The popular Curtains Up Series may have missed a year thanks to the pandemic, but it certainly hasn’t skipped a beat.

On Friday, officials with Connect2Culture announced the five musical acts for the 2021-2022 season, the fourth in the popular series. Curtains Up showcases a variety of national touring artists Joplin area fans to enjoy, said C2C Director Emily Frankoski.

“Connect2Culture’s mission has always been to ‘ignite a passion for the arts, culture, and entertainment,’ and we hope the Curtains Up Series does just that,” she said. “We want people to enjoy themselves, as well as leave each performance with a new or expanded love for the arts and culture.”

The last Curtains Up concert — The Choir of Man, playing to a sold- out Memorial Hall crowd on March 10, 2020 — took place mere days before COVID-19 gripped the nation; and just a few weeks prior to the nationwide lockdown. After that, silence — as far as live musical concerts were concerned — until this year’s Farewell Angelina concert and the JOMO Jammin’ music series in July and early August.

“After an impressive list of artists in 2019-20, we anticipate the (new) performances will fulfill or exceed our expectations and the expectations of our patrons,” she said.

Similar to prior Curtains Up seasons, the 2021-2022 version welcomes musical acts of various genres to Southwest Missouri.

“While we did not focus on a specific genre for this year’s series, we concentrated on diversifying our lineup. An emphasis on variety enables us to appeal to a broader audience and offer a variety of genres unlike anything Joplin has seen before,” Frankoski said.

Overall, “I’m really proud of the range this season embodies.”

The first concert, taking place at 4 and 7 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 20, at the Joplin High School Performing Arts Center, will be Schoolhouse Rock Live. Geared toward a younger audience, ages 6 to 10, this pop culture musical phenomenon will bring to life such beloved songs as “Conjunction Junction,” “Just a Bill” and “Three is a Magic Number.” Tickets range from $15 to $25.

Next up will be the Dallas String Quartet, playing a holiday show — “a fusion of classical and contemporary music on traditional and electric strings,” Frankoski said — at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 11, at the Ozark Christian College Chapel. Think of this group as “Bach meeting Bon Jovi,” she said, Tickets range from $30 to $40.

Acclaimed jazz musician Charles McPherson, a Joplin native who moved to Detroit at the age of 9, will perform the third Curtains Up concert, a free 7 p.m. show on Saturday, Feb. 19, 2022, at Central Christian Center in Joplin. The free concert is just one piece of a larger homecoming celebration that will span nearly a week; there will also be a ticketed, fundraiser performance by McPherson scheduled for Feb. 18, 2022, at the Joplin Empire Market.

The TEN Tenors, one of Australia’s most popular live musical acts, will return to Southwest Missouri for a 7 p.m. concert on Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022, at the Joplin High School Performing Arts Center. The group — which does tributes to both great classical composers as well as contemporary music’s most popular artists — last played in Joplin on Dec. 13, 2018. Tickets range from $40 to $55.

Rounding out the series will be Las Cafeteras, a band from east Los Angeles, which will perform at 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 2, 2022, at the Joplin Empire Market Courtyard. Through its music, members spin modern-day yarns featuring Latino and immigrant lives while playing traditional Son Jarocho instruments such as the quijada (donkey jawbone) and tarima (wooden platform). Songs are sung in English, Spanish and Spanlish, melding styles of rock, hip-hop and rancheras. Tickets are $20.

Both the Schoolhouse Rock children’s theater musical and Las Cafeteras are two new genres debuting this year.

“Both promise to be fresh, exciting performances that break the mold of live entertainment in Joplin,” Frankoski said of the two concerts. The Schoolhouse Rock Live performance, she added, is a show “the entire family can enjoy, from the parents to the kids.”

Single concert tickets will go on sale on Friday, Oct. 8 and will be available exclusively at www.connect or by calling 417-501-5550. Season tickets, which offer a bundle of discounted tickets to all performances, are on sale now.

“We encourage everyone to attend at least one of the performances. It’s a great opportunity to enjoy high-quality, live entertainment without pricey tickets or traveling long distances,” she said.

Kevin McClintock is features editor for The Joplin Globe.

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