Welcome 2011

‘Evening of Effervescence’ promises orchestra, gourmet meal and chance to help Clayton Center

Flamenco dancers are set to “wow” Clayton Center guest in February.

Flamenco dancers are set to “wow” Clayton Center guest in February.

For revelers wishing to swing into 2011 with a gourmet meal and the sounds of a world-renowned orchestra, the Clayton Center for the Arts is the place to celebrate on New Year’s Eve.

Robert Hutchens, Clayton Center for the Arts executive director, said “An Evening of Effervescence” is a memory-making way to welcome a new year. As the Clayton Center celebrates its first season as a dramatic new venue in Maryville, supporters, fans and those who just need somewhere elegant to go on New Year’s Eve now have the opportunity to ring in the year at the center.

The party starts at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 31, in the Grand Foyer and ends shortly after midnight.

“There will be a very gourmet meal from First Fruits,” Hutchens said. “The menu is the kind you would find at one of the finest restaurants in this area.”

Staged in three segments, the menu includes two times where the hors d’oeuvres are passed and a separate sit-down elegant dinner. There will be a cash bar available and a complimentary champagne. Tickets are $125 per person.

The menu for the passed hors d’oeuvres includes shrimp canapé, mini crab cakes, tomato phyllo canapés and mini-Spanakopita. For the main course, there is a salad, rosemary mint rack of lamb, crab imperial beef filet, Parsienne garlic whipped potatoes, steamed asparagus hollandaise, herb-stuffed roma tomatoes, buttered croissant and Chocolate Decadence Mousse Cake with Raspberry Colis. At midnight, butlers will be passing pimento cheese finger sandwiches, chocolate-dipped strawberries, cheddar sausage balls and Boston crème puffs.

Entertaining and providing music to dance to is the Sentimental Journey Orchestra of Atlanta.

“They have played for President Carter, for Ted Turner. and they were chosen to play for the 75th anniversary of the Fox Theater in Atlanta,” Hutchens said. “They alone would be a great concert, even if it weren’t a great party.”

Hutchens said guests can enjoy the dance floor in addition to the surroundings of what has become popular event venues in Blount County “This is one of the most beautiful venues you could imagine anywhere. For almost a year now, this has been a very popular place,” he said. “Thousands of people have come through here and hopefully thousands of people have formed attachments to the place. Being here to bring in the new year during our very first year should be very exciting and memorable.

Tickets are $125 each and reserved tables of six to eight are also available. “You can be with people who are closest to you and share something special on so many levels - from the entertainment and food level to the silent auction level to the community level,” he said.

The executive director said the gala event is a fundraiser for the Clayton Center for the Arts. Planners are hoping to raise $5,000 or more for the center. Now in a phase of operations where costs other than capital costs need to be met, events like “Evening of Effervescence” make other programs for schools, families and the community possible at the center.

Guests can make reservations by calling 865-981-8590. The box office will be closed from noon on Dec. 24, Christmas Eve to 9 a.m. Monday, Dec. 27. “We’ll be checking messages daily if someone is not in the box office. People can call 865-981-8590 and we will confirm that their place is held.”

Contact the Airport Hilton Hotel at 865-970-4300 for a special room rate of $79 that includes free 24-hour shuttle to and from The Clayton Center for the Arts.

As the new year dawns, the Clayton Center for the Arts will finish out their first season with eight more productions still to go in the Clayton Center Presents series.

The shows offer the public a way to enjoy a variety of performances at the Clayton Center for the Arts.

Patrons can enjoy everything from chainsaw jugglers with “The Passing Zone,” the songs of Elvis with “All Shook Up,” spirituals from the American Spiritual Ensemble and a show called “The Aluminum Show” that features an Israeli dance troupe that presents such a unique program that it is simply hard to describe, says Hutchens.

The first Clayton Center for the Arts presentation for the New Year is the American Spiritual Ensemble. Performing at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 15, in the Ronald and Lynda Nutt Theatre, the performance is part of the county’s Martin Luther King, Jr., celebration.

Those who attended the opening night gala of the Clayton Center will remember the spellbinding singing of Maryville College graduate John Wesley Wright, who is one of the members of the American Spiritual Ensemble. The ensemble is a group of professional soloists who combine their voices in a chorus of tribute to the soul-stirring spiritual.

“The Aluminum Show” features shapes and colors in a performance that is similar to the Blue Man Group.

“It isn’t difficult to figure out how The Aluminum Show came to be in the 2010-11 season. What may be difficult to figure out is what The Aluminum Show is,” Hutchens said. Like Pilobolus and The Blue Man Group, the Israeli troupe of dancers has defined its own genre.

Clad in imaginative, often bizarre, structures of recycled aluminum, the performers execute a choreography of shapes and colors that surprise, intrigue and enchant. They appear at 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 21, in the Ronald and Lynda Nutt Theatre.

Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana showcases ballroom dancing on Tuesday, Feb. 1.

“Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana has the passion, rhythm and flamboyance currently so popular in ballroom dancing shows, but all the dancers are professionals, celebrating the national dance and songs of Spain,” Hutchens said. The dancers take the Nita Eckles West Stage in the Ronald and Lynda Nutt Theatre, at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 1.

From flamenco to the shaking and rocking of Elvis is just a few days apart as the musical “All Shook Up” comes to the Clayton Center on Friday, Feb. 11.

“All Shook Up” features the songs of Tennessee’s own Elvis Presley. The story of a teenage rebel shaking up a small town is told through such numbers as “Jailhouse Rock,” “Hounddog,” “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Teddy Bear” and many more favorites. The show will be in The Ronald and Lynda Nutt Theatre, at 8 p.m. on Feb. 11.

In March, the Acting Company of New York City brings a Shakespeare’s play to life.

“The Acting Company of New York City is one of the most respected touring repertory theatres in the country,” Hutchens said. “It has produced such famous performers as Kevin Kline and Rainn Wilson, who plays the character Dwight on television show ‘The Office.’” The company will perform Shakespeare’s “The Comedy of Errors” on the Ronald and Lynda Nutt Theatre at 7:30 p.m. on March 9.

Guests will see all kinds of things -- including chain saws -- flying through the air during “The Passing Zone,” a juggling act of buzzing chainsaws and people.

“The Passing Zone” is a juggling act and a comedy team who has performed on “The Tonight Show,” “The Today Show” and have been invited to perform at the White House. “Among the things they juggle are buzzing chainsaws and humans -- not at the same time,” Hutchens said. “Their repartee is as sharp as the things they juggle.” They appear at 7:30 p.m. March 19 in the Ronald and Lynda Nutt Theatre.

“Groucho” comes to town in March and changes the Grand Foyer into a dinner theater. Frank Ferrante, critically acclaimed actor in New York and London, transforms himself before the audience’s eyes into an uncanny reincarnation of Groucho Marx for “An Evening with Groucho.” This dinner theater production will be in the William Baxter Lee III Grand Foyer of the Clayton Center for the Arts at 6:30 p.m. March 26.

The season ends with one of the most famous names in jazz: Brubeck.

Chris Brubeck, son of legendary Dave Brubeck, joins Joel Brown and Madcat Ruth in “Chris Brubeck and Triple Play.”

The show features blues, rock, folk and jazz and is set for 8 p.m. April 8 in The Ronald and Lynda Nutt Theater of the Clayton Center for the Arts.

To purchase tickets for any of the events, call 865-981-8590 or come by the Clayton Center for the Arts box office from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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