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Back in Session: UNCW bills a multitude of exciting events

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The dog days of summer are coming to a close and that means UNCW is jumpstarting its fall semester. Like every year, their myriad organizations and departments—from UNCW Presents to UNCW Master Series—have culled together an abundance of culturally enlightening events.

“I think what is most enriching is the collaboration between the arts and the academic departments,” Stefanie Mancuso, interim associate director of Campus Life Arts and Programs, comments. “I believe the entire university is invested in connecting our students to an array of performing arts and enhancing our student’s out-of-classroom experience.”

Wilmington’s distinctive quality of being a college town permits the community at large to enjoy their offerings, too. This year will bring the likes of  Molly Ringwald, Piper Kerman, and Jon Lithgow to the Port City. Here’s a glance at some not-to-be-missed happenings.

Russell Crotty: Surf Works
Sept. 4th, 5:30 p.m.
UNCW Cultural Arts Building

Having been a surfer for over 40 years and a showing artist for over 30 years, Russell Crotty married his passions for his upcoming exhibit at UNCW. Utilizing a ballpoint pen and color washes, “Surf Works”— co-sponsored by the Cucalorus Artist Residency—comprises surf drawings, surf and map books, surf sequence panels and seascape/text mobile. 

“‘Surf Works’ is something of a parallel to my main body of work,” Crotty describes. “While I became known for globe drawings and books with astronomy or landscape themes, as a lifelong surfer, I’ve continually invented very personal, obsessive and ongoing fantasies of surf spots, wave formations, and imaginary characters, along with a surf-lingo morphed from surf media and local vernaculars.”

An opening reception will be held Thursday, September 4th from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., followed by a lecture 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The show hangs through October 3rd.

Mark Morris Dance Group
Saturday, September 13th, 8 p.m.
Kenan Auditorium
Tickets: $25-$45

The Brooklyn-based Mark Morris Dance Group will make their first appearance in southeastern North Carolina next month thanks to UNCW Master Series. Headed by American dancer, choreographer and director Mark William Morris, the dance company revels in expressive, contemporary dance. Accompanied by a live music ensemble, the world-renowned troupe features diversified pieces, such as “Italian Concerto,” which  is performed to the music of Bach, and “Tamil Film Songs in Stereo,” a piece infused with Indian flair. 

An Evening with Molly Ringwald
Wednesday, September 17th, 7 p.m.
Kenan Auditorium
Tickets: $5-$35

While many remember her as the late John Hughes’ cinematic muse, Molly Ringwald began singing well before she ogled Jake Ryan in “Sixteen Candles.” She started performing in her father’s jazz band when she was only 3 years old. 

Ringwald will kick off UNCW Presents’ season, singing selections from her jazz album, “Except Sometimes.” “UNCW is incredibly excited to host a true talent, Molly Ringwald,” Mancuso says.  “Her voice and performance are sure to be a great way to start our season off well.”

The Doctor in Spite of Himself
Sept. 25th-28th and Oct. 2nd-5th, 8 p.m. Sun.: 2 p.m.
Mainstage Theatre (UNCW Cultural Arts Building)
Tickets: $5-$12

Kicking off this season of UNCW theatre will be “The Doctor in Spite of Himself.” Directed by Anne Berkeley, the French comedy by Molière was first performed in 1666. In the play Sganarelle makes life unbearable for his family, so his wife convinces a wealthy family that he is a famed doctor. Hijinx ensues as Sganarelle is forced to help the family restore their daughter’s voice. 

This year’s lineup also includes “Middletown” (Nov. 13th-16th, 20th-23rd), “Hamlet” (Feb. 19th-22nd, Feb. 26th-Mar. 1st) and “Rosencrantz and Guildernstern are Dead” (April 16th-19th, 23rd-26th). 

Thurs. Nov. 6th, 8 p.m.
Kenan Auditorium
Tickets: $8-$20

BASETRACK, a team of photographers and journalists, began compiling photos and stories on their Facebook page that illuminated the life of marines and their families in 2010. The popularity of their social-media depictions have resulted in the troupe touring the country throughout 2014 and 2015. They focus their attention on the plight of returning veterans by encompassing multimedia projections, spoken word and live contemporary music to convey their message. The show highlights the emotional turmoil of being separated from one’s family and the issues that arise when being reunited with American society. They will come to Wilmington thanks to UNCW Master Series and En Garde Arts. 

UNCW Wind Symphony and Chamber Winds with special guests
Friday, December 5th, 7:30 p.m.
Kenan Auditorium

Presented by the Department of Music, conductor John P. LaCognata will direct another noteworthy performance by the UNCW Wind Symphony and Chamber Winds. The performance comes as part of the yearly UNCW Honor Band Festival and will welcome faculty guest soloists to the stage. 

Visions Film Festival and Conference
Date: April TBD
Tickets $10
Lumina Theatre in Fisher Student Center

Helmed by local documentarian Shannon Silva, Visions Film Festival and Conference is a student-run cinematic event held annually. It compiles scholarly papers and films rendered by undergraduates across the globe. As well, it boasts a keynote speaker from the industry. They will begin accepting submissions this fall. 

“The event gives student (and Wilmington) film lovers of all kinds a chance to share their passion for cinema,” Film Studies Department head Dave Monahan says. “Visions participants are treated to a wide variety of perspectives on the movies.”

Stories by Heart
Friday, April 17th, 8 p.m.
Kenan Auditorium
Tickets: $45-$65

Presented by UNCW Master Series, John Lithgow (”3rd Rock From the Sun,””Footloose”) will perform his one-man show, “Stories by Heart.” The prolific actor has performed on Broadway in musicals such as “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” for which he received a Tony Award nomination for Best Leading Actor, and has written several books of poetry. 

“Stories by Heart” premiered in 2008 at the Lincoln Center Theater in New York City. He now traverses the country with his show. Throughout the performance he highlights the importance of storytelling. With an armchair as his only prop, he acts out various family stories. New York Times hailed “Stories by Heart” as a “breathtaking tour de force.”

Piper Kerman
Tuesday, March 3rd, 7 p.m.
Burney Center
Tickets: $10

Netflix bingers can rejoice as UNCW Presents will host “Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison” author Piper Kerman this spring. She wrote the memior in 2010 to recount various experiences and individuals she met after pleading guilty to money laundering and drug trafficking. Kerman subsequently spent a year in prison. Her book emphasizes the humanity of a normally stigmatized sect of the population. 

The Emmy award-winning creator of “Weeds,” Jenji Kohan, adapted her book into a Netflix original series in 2013. With the platform Kerman garnered from the acclaimed book and series, she now advocates bettering the prison system and routinely speaks to federal probation officers, public defenders and formerly incarcerated people.

Jekyll and Hyde
Wednesday, March 18th, 7 p.m.
Kenan Auditorium
Tickets: $5-$35

UNCW Presents closes their season of entertainment with Broadway’s “Jekyll and Hyde.” It will stand as the first full-scale Broadway production to come to Wilmington. 

The pop-rock musical brings the classic Robert Louis Stevenson novella to life onstage. It came to the stage per a book by Leslie Bricusse, with music by Frank Wildhorn. Wildhorn, Bricusse and Steve Cuden combined efforts to create the production’s lyrics. It premiered at the Alley Theatre in Houston, Texas, in May 1990, and made its Broadway debut in 1997. 

The musical tells the good-versus-evil story of Dr. Henry Jekyll as he vacillates between his virtuous personality and the evil Edward Hyde.

All tickets can be purchased on the UNCW website (

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Encore Magazine regularly covers topics pertaining to news, arts, entertainment, food, and city life in Wilmington. It also maintains schedules and listings of local events like concerts, festivals, live performance art and think-tank events. Encore Magazine is an entity of H&P Media, which also powers Wilmington’s local ticketing platform, Print and online editions are updated every Wednesday.

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