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'Annie,' Second City and blues legend Robert Cray among the BCPA's season highlights

A brick masonic temple sits atop a grassy hill.
The downtown Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts is owned and operated with Grossinger Motors Arena by the City of Bloomington.

After years of staff changes and pandemic struggles that plagued all arts presenters, the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts resumes a full season of shows under new management beginning this fall.

The venue, which is owned and operated by the City of Bloomington, presents a mix of magic, comedy and musical acts in the coming months. Tickets go on sale in person and online Aug. 25.

Among the highlights is an appearance by Grammy Award-winning blues guitarist Robert Cray Oct. 5 and a two-day stop for the "Annie" national tour March 11 and 12, 2024. Chicago's Second City improv troupe, the Glenn Miller Orchestra and a Fleetwood Mac cover band are also scheduled to appear.

The return of bagpipe band Red Hot Chili Pipers, “Trailblazing Women of Country,” Broadway’s Chryssie Whitehead and the inimitable Charo are on the lineup, plus magician Vitaly and steampunk-inspired Cirque Mechanics-Pedal Punk.

Anticipating an uptick in audience attendance, the city has advertised available jobs for stagehands, bartenders and production interns to fill out staffing at the BCPA and Grossinger Motors Arena, both of which are managed by Director of Arts and Entertainment Anthony Nelson.

Nelson has expressed a commitment to repairing workplace culture after several high-profile departures, accusations of a toxic work environment and an embarrassing cancellation under prior management. Before that, previous managers stole city funds and the arena generally failed to turn a profit. Nelson became interim director during a protracted search for the newly created position managing both venues, and later accepted the job.

Resident opera company MIOpera recently relocated its season to the BCPA, filling a portion of the vacancy created when the Illinois Symphony Orchestra moved its primary concert series to Illinois State University’s Center for Performing Arts. The ISO’s Concerts for Kids program remains at the downtown Bloomington venue.

MIOpera’s fall and spring lineup includes "Don Giovani," "A Christmas Carol" and Gounod's "Romeo and Juliet," which was due to premiere last month and postponed when partner company Springfield Ballet closed.

More information and tickets is available at artsblooming.org.

Lauren Warnecke is a reporter at WGLT. You can reach Lauren at lewarne@ilstu.edu.