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Anniversary parties

The Symphony turns 40, the Rep celebrates 30.

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Violinist Corey Cerovsek will help the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra celebrate its 40th anniversary on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 17-18, but the entire year has a special feel for the ASO, with pops concerts featuring the likes of Michael McDonald in March, its Chamber Music Series’ move to the Clinton President Center, and music director David Itkin’s continued tweaking of his popular “Yuletide Spectacular.” The opening Stella Boyle Smith Masterworks shows with Cerovsek are at 8 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday at Robinson Center Music Hall, with Cerovsek performing Brahms’ soaring violin concerto. The “40th Anniversary Celebration” show will also include Berlioz’ “Roman Carnival” overture and Antonin Dvorak’s Symphony No. 7. Tickets range from $16 to $46 and are available through the ASO’s box office at 666-1761. Season subscriptions also are available. The chamber music series has now been dubbed River Rhapsodies, and the setup at the Presidential Center will afford concert-goers an early evening view of the Little Rock skyline as one of the ASO’s three chamber groups performs. The first River Rhapsodies concert is Oct. 11. The first Pops, Live! concert stars Peter Schickele in his PDQ Bach routine, putting a humorous spin on baroque sounds Oct. 7-8. That’s followed up by “Bailey and Beethoven Five” on Oct. 22-23. Ballet Arkansas and the ASO combine forces Dec. 10-11 for the annual “Nutcracker” show at Robinson Center, and Itkin has reserved Dec. 17-18 for three shows in two days of his “Yuletide Spectacular,” which sells out well in advance. Call 666-1761 for tickets or more information. The Arkansas Repertory Theatre has already jumped into its 30th season with “Steel Magnolias,” which will continue through Sept. 25 and features six actresses with regional and national credits, including local actresses Candyce Hinkle and Judy Trice. The Rep opens “Of Mice and Men” on Oct. 14, running through Oct. 30. The theater’s seasonal holiday extravaganza is Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” running Dec. 2 through Jan. 1. Highlights in 2006 include Lawrence Hamilton’s return to the Rep as director of “Crowns” in January. Call 378-0405 or 866-684-3737 for ticket information. The Wildwood Festival of Music and the Arts, which has been focused in June for the past 15 years, will now be part of the fall as well, expanding to a year-round program, according to executive artistic director Ann Chotard. This year’s schedule will be launched on Sept. 23 with the one-woman cabaret show “Out of Bounds,” with comedienne Sharon Douglas. The 8 p.m. show at the Lucy Lockett Cabe Festival Theatre will spoof the local culture scene. Wildwood will have its usual summer opera again this season with “Carmen” being performed in June, but the venue is adding another opera for fall with the presentation of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Patience (or Bunthorne’s Bride)” at 8 p.m. Oct. 21 at the Cabe Theatre. Wildwood offers a holiday opera production of “Amahl and the Night Visitors” by Giancarlo Menotti on Dec. 2 at 8 p.m. at the Cabe Theater. More cabaret is planned through 2006, including Adriana Zabala performing “Sondheim at 75” in March. Other features of the new season include the After Dinner Opera Series, the Jazz Supper Club and the Family Series, geared toward families with children ages 5-12. For more information or tickets, call Wildwood Park at 821-7275. Central Arkansas had a mostly quiet concert season during the summer, but music will be cranking at all decibels in Alltel Arena starting with Motley Crue, featuring bad-boy drummer Tommy Lee and vocalist Vince Neil, on Sept. 23. A little softer sound can be heard Oct. 29 with bluegrass stars Alison Krauss and Union Station, featuring Jerry Douglas. They were originally scheduled for March 19 in Alltel. In between those shows are the power Christian rock group Casting Crowns on Oct. 14 and the fabled Southern jam band Widespread Panic on Oct. 22. Even more shows could be coming Alltel’s way in the fall because of problems in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina. An Elton John show in early November and a Nine Inch Nails show at about the same time are possibilities, since those acts have nowhere to play now. Louisiana’s problems have also sent a comedy show our way. Comic actor Vince Vaughn, who starred in the recent smash hit film “Wedding Crashers,” will emcee a show with four performers from Los Angeles’ Comedy Store on Sept. 26 at Robinson Center. “Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show” tour, hitting 30 cities in 30 days, will star Bret Ernst, John Caparulo, Ahmed Ahmed and Sebastian Maniscalco. Tickets are $32 through Ticketmaster or the Celebrity Attractions ticket office at Third and Spring Streets.

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