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Ray Charles lovers unite

Fayetteville’s Walton Arts Center slates “I Can’t Stop Loving You.”

by and

  • RECREATING RAY CHARLES: In Fayetteville.

There’s more to Fayetteville than the Razorbacks, and the Walton Arts Center can take credit for that: art, music, dance and festivals. This fall, fans of the music of Ray Charles will be treated to the touring show “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” which debuts in Fayetteville on Oct. 24.

The Walton Arts Center will roll out the red carpet on opening night and its paparazzi will snap photos of all those who come out to support the theater. A champagne reception will follow the performance.

“I Can’t Stop Loving You” is a revue featuring the music of the late singer/composer with an on-stage orchestra and company of singers and dancers. It will run through Oct. 29; tickets are $40, $36 and $32.

The Walton Arts Center wasn’t able to book as many touring shows this year — larger cities are showing declining interest in such shows. But it plans to keep the big names coming, by doubling the number of single-night shows from four to eight, which has assured that some of the best touring acts in the nation will come to Fayetteville, and more folks will have a chance to catch them.

That means the fall season, which kicked off Sept. 12, now includes twice as many performances of the four-time Tony Award winner “Aida.” Elton John and Tim Rice, composers of Disney’s “The Lion King,” created the Grammy-winning score, and the Walton Arts Center has the honor of launching this Nubian musical love story’s national tour. Performances are at 7 p.m. Sept. 14, 8 p.m. Sept. 15 and 16 and 2 p.m. Sept. 16 and 17. Tickets are priced at $46, $42 and $38.

Maybe the three greatest things on earth converge in Fayetteville Sept. 27-30: Bikes, Blues, and BBQ. This “fastest growing motorcycle rally in the world” is expecting attendance of 250,000 over four days. There will be BBQ cook-offs, more than 150 vendors, giveaways, the Parade of Power, and plenty of motor revvin’ and music, on and around Dickson Street. All proceeds go to charity. Last year the group was able to donate more than $125,000.

October opens with a celebration of Hispanic Heritage month at the Walton Arts Center with Ballet Folklorico de Mexico de Amalia Hernandez. This performance showcases traditional Mexican dance, music and costume and a mariachi band. The company regularly sells out shows in Mexico City; it’s performing at 7 p.m. Oct. 10. Ticket prices are $20, $16, and $12.

Look for children’s favorite and the Arts Center’s best seller Jeff Corwin on Oct. 22 when the Emmy Award-winning host of Animal Planet’s “Corwin’s Quest” and “The Corwin Experience” entertains alongside his animal friends. Tickets are $20, $16, and $12 and sell out quickly.

The Arts Center closes out one of its busiest months with its 15th anniversary celebration and a concert by Grammy Award-winning country singer Vince Gill on Halloween night. Tickets are $100, $75, $65 and $55. The show will be followed by a reception.

November will be the month for victory dances in Fayetteville, maybe on the football field but certainly on the stage. The gymnastic dance company STREB, created by Elizabeth Streb, performs at Walton Arts Center on Nov. 10-11. The troupe defies gravity by performing on trampolines and with bungee cords, scaffolding and a trapeze. Ticket prices are $26, $22 and $18.

The Ozark Lights ceremony on Nov. 18 is the official beginning of the holiday season in Fayetteville. Carriages will take riders on a tour of decorative lights. The Christmas transition is complete on Nov. 30 with the opening night of the Moscow Classical Ballet’s “The Nutcracker,” which will run through Dec. 2. Tickets for this holiday classic are $38, $34 and $28.

Where to eat, sleep and drink in Fayetteville

The Clarion, 1255 S. Shiloh. Easy in and out off I-540 west of the UA campus. There’s a spacious inside courtyard and a dining room within the arboretum as well. About 10 minutes to downtown. 479-521-1166.

Radisson, 70 N. East Ave. Just off the town square, it’s an easy walk to the Dickson Street restaurants and hangouts as well as the Walton Arts Center. 479-442-5555.

The Inn at Carnall Hall, 465 N. Arkansas Ave. The restored women’s dorm includes the fine dining restaurant Ella’s. 800-295-9118.

Bordinos, 318 Dickson St. Fine Italian food amid the pubs and college nightlife of Dickson. 479-527-6795.

Theo’s, 322 Campbell St. Fayetteville’s best restaurant, with steaks and other fine-dining entrees. 479-527-0086.

Emilia’s Kitchen, 309 W. Dickson St. Dining with a Mediterranean twist near the square. 479-527-9800.

Tiny Tim’s, 21 W. Mountain. In a college town, trust the college kids when looking for a great slice of pizza. This is where they go. 479-521-5551.

Pesto Cafe, 1830 N. College. Not an imposing place, but there’s good Italian here, and you won’t see an imposing check at the end of the meal, either. 479-582-3330.

Brewski’s Bar, 408 W. Dickson St. A classic wine and beer bar. 479-973-6969.

Blu Lounge, 339 N. West Ave. For dancing and maybe the best patio in town. 479-442-5040.

George’s Majestic Lounge, 519 W. Dickson St. This classic has been around nearly as long as Fayetteville itself, it seems, and you can always count on some good contemporary music here. 479-442-4226.

Grubs, 220 N. West. A younger hangout with good music. 479-973-4782.

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