Our Top Picks of the Month's Events
B-Day AT THE ESSENCE FESTIVAL
In 2013 Beyoncé’s massive empire continued to grow with an HBO documentary, lucrative endorsement deals, a lip-syncing scandal that gained lots of press and an explosive Super Bowl halftime performance suspiciously followed by a power outage. The pop juggernaut returns to the scene of Superbowl XLVII to headline the Essence Festival, which features a slate of local and national R&B, pop and hip-hop stars. Other artists include Maxwell, New Edition, Charlie Wilson, Janelle Monae, Jill Scott and Beyoncé’s sister Solange. The festival also hosts free “empowerment sessions” at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center lead by politicians, religious leaders, entertainers and others. The festival takes place July 4-7. Information, EssenceFestival.com
From Johannesburg to New Orleans comes Africa Umoja, a spirited musical celebration of indigenous South African sounds. The 40-plus-person cast –including dancers, singers and musicians – performs Todd Twala and Thembi Nyandeni’s show, conceived as a colorful pageant of South African history to educate the country’s youth. More concert than traditional musical with a narrative through-line, the show depicts vignettes of South African life, many during the apartheid era. The show, which has a home at Johannesburg’s nonprofit Victory Theatre, has been hailed for the performers’ infectious energy. Africa Umoja runs at the Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts July 9-14. Information, MahaliaJacksonTheater.com
Tales of the Cocktail, which has travelled to Vancouver and in April stops in Buenos Aires, returns for its flagship festival in New Orleans. This year’s event features seminars on everything from Parisian drinks in the 1920s to what cooks can teach bartenders, plus a new slate of tasting events including ones pairing premium spirits and craft beers and another deconstructing the gin and tonic. There is also the usual dinners, competitions, certification courses, tasting rooms and more. The festival is July 17-21. Information, TalesOfTheCocktail.com
After a major renovation that was not without controversy, Le Petit Théâtre’s long-awaited return is finally near. The full season, which includes Lombardi, Hair, Golda’s Balcony, Death of a Salesman and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, doesn’t begin until September, but the theater hosts a “lagniappe production” of Nora and Delia Ephron’s Love, Loss and What I Wore, directed by Carl Walker, July 19-28. The theater’s executive director Cassie Worley, a longtime arts educator, actress and former Le Petit board president, talks about the production.
Why did you choose this show? When we were looking at productions for the re-opening of the season, I was intrigued by Love, Loss and What I Wore because I had seen it in New York on an off-Broadway stage. It’s a very simple production – it’s five women sitting on stools doing a reading. In our season we’re doing Death of a Salesman and Lombardi, and those are kind of male-heavy. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a woman show? ... It’s not just a women’s show, but I could see groups of women coming and having a good time connecting.
What’s the idea behind a “lagniappe production”? The idea was ... what show will be sort of the easiest to be the first one in our theater as we get used to the lights and the staging? And we thought, this one’s … very small, very manageable, intimate, elegant. And it gives us, the people behind the scenes running the theater, a chance to welcome an audience and get used to the flow of the theater and the space that we’re sharing [with Dicky Brennan’s Tableau restaurant] That’s why we called it lagniappe: it’s not billed under our season shows, it’s a smaller extra.
What do you want to do with Le Petit that’s different from the past? I’m very excited about our community engagement and our educational outreach program. We’re going to be bringing in students from schools that don’t have arts programs, and they’re going to be taking classes in the theater as part of their curriculums. Le Petit hasn’t done that in the past, and this board and I are really committed to what can we do for the community.
For more information on the show and the theater, visit LePetitTheatre.com.
Through July 14. “To Paint and Pray: The Art and Life of William R. Hollingsworth Jr.;” Ogden Museum of Southern Art. Information, OgdenMuseum.org
July 6-Sept. 22. “Tank Drama: Deliberations from the Wet Grave;” Contemporary Arts Center. Information, cacno.org
July 11-27. The New Orleans Shakespeare Festival at Tulane presents Romeo and Juliet; Tulane’s Lupin Hall. Information, NewOrleansShakespeare.Tulane.edu
July 11-14. Tulane Summer Lyric presents A Little Night Music; Tulane’s Dixon Hall. Information, SummerLyric.Tulane.edu
July 11-14. San Fermin en Nueva Orleans, featuring the Running of the Bulls; various locations. Information, NolaBulls.com
July 11. Comedian Pete Holmes, Tipitina’s. Information, Tipitinas.com
July 12-14. Bastille Day in New Orleans; various locations. Information, AF-NewOrleans.org
July 13. New Orleans Beatles Festival; House of Blues. Information, HouseofBlues.com
July 17. Robert Plant and the Sensational Shape Shifters in concert; Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts. Information, MahaliaJacksonTheater.com
July 25-28. The New Movement presents The Megaphone Marathons improv comedy festival; Café Istanbul. Information, TNMComedy.com
July 30. “American Idol” Live; UNO Lakefront Arena. Information, Arena.uno.edu
Aug. 1-4. Satchmo Summerfest; Old U.S. Mint. Information, fqfi.org/SatchmoSummerfest
Aug. 1-31. COOLinary New Orleans; various locations. Information, CoolinaryNewOrleans.com
Aug. 3. White Linen Night; New Orleans Art District. Information, NewOrleansArtsDistrict.com