Park City Institute’s 20th Anniversary Season looks back and presses forward | ParkRecord.com

Park City Institute’s 20th Anniversary Season looks back and presses forward

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The Park City Institute will present Monica Lewinsky on Jan. 6. She will give a presentation about cyberbullying and online shaming. (Courtesy of the Park City Institute)

Twenty years ago Teri Orr formed the nonprofit Park City Institute with the idea of bringing high-end performers to Park City.

Since then, creators such as Jeff Daniels, the Alvin Ailey Dance Company, DanceBrazil, Jessica Lang Dance and author Neil Gaiman have graced the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts stage.

Not only have they entertained, but they've also educated and illuminated the audiences, Orr said during an interview with The Park Record.

"A little while after we started, we did change our mission statement to be 'Entertaining, Educating and Illuminating,' Orr said. "It's that illuminating part that is like a cherry on the sundae."

To continue the mission and provide thought-provoking entertainment to town, the Park City Institute has announced its 2017-18 season.

Performances and appearances include award-winning musicians, theater productions and notable speakers, Orr said.

"We are celebrating our 20th anniversary, and I think we planned a season that represents the best of who we are," she said. "We have included some favorites from where we've been, and gave a hat-tip to the future as to where the organization is headed."

The season starts on Dec. 9 with five-time Grammy-winning and Blues Hall of Fame inductee Robert Cray.

"He'll bring his soulful voice to our stage for a night that draws the blues out of rock, gospel, pop, soul and rhythm and blues," Orr said. "What a way to kick off our anniversary season."

Five nights later on Dec. 16, the Park City Institute will welcome back MOMIX, the theatrical dance company led by Artistic Director Moses Pendleton. The company last performed in Park City in 2015.

"They are all about shadow, light and illusion, and it's definitely not your grandmother's dance company," Orr said. "We're hoping Moses will be able to join us this year."

Momix will return to the Eccles Center stage on Dec. 16. The last time the dance and theater company performed in Park City was in 2015. (Courtesy of the Park City Institute)
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy is ready to bring some holiday swing to Park City on Dec. 20.(Courtesy of the Park City Institute)

During the holiday season, the Institute will present the big-band swing sound of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy on Dec. 20.

The band has a couple of Christmas albums under its belt and its latest album, "Louie, Louie, Louie," is a salute to the music of Louis Armstrong, Louis Prima and Louis Jordan.

"They are really fun," Orr said. "We haven't had them on our roster for a while."

On Dec. 27, the indie-pop sound of Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band will help keep the end-of-the-year energy flowing.

The Grammy and Emmy-winning duo will perform two shows that day, Orr said.

"This is a children's band that plays and sings in both English and Spanish, and all of the words get interchanged in both languages," she said. "This is something that would be great for our community as a gift at Christmastime. I'm really excited for this."

New Year's Eve has always been a special night for the Park City Institute. Past performances have included Bernadette Peters, Kristin Chenoweth and Alan Cumming.

This year the night will be given to Grammy-winning multi-instrumentalist Rhiannon Giddens.

"She is known as the co-founder of the band The Carolina Chocolate Drops, in which she plays banjo and fiddle," Orr said. "She also performs in Yo Yo Ma's The Silk Road String Ensemble."

Orr tried to schedule Giddens for two years.

"I first heard her during a TEDx presentation with the Silk Road Ensemble," Orr said. "She is African-American and Irish and plays the banjo and fiddle, and has worked out her identity through music."

The Main Stage season continues in 2018 on Jan. 6 with a presentation by Monica Lewinsky.

"Twenty years ago, we were impeaching a president and this woman was 'patient zero of cyberbullying and shaming,'" Orr said. "When the Internet was just starting out, her affair with President Clinton was the big story, and she will talk about that and all the things that people said about her."

Orr likes that fact that Lewinsky persevered and earned a master's degree from the London School of Economics, and spends her time talking to parents and children about how to tackle the "empathy crisis" of cyberbullying.

"Her TED Talk on the topic has received more than 11 million views, and while she's in Park City, she will give a talk to high-school age young women during a student outreach," Orr said.

On Jan. 13, the Park City Institute will celebrate the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Center's 20th anniversary properly with loads of events, and the night will culminate with a party featuring the jazz and classical music of Pink Martini.

The last time Park City Institute presented the band was in 2007 during the St. Regis Big Stars, Bright Nights concerts at Deer Valley. The band's singer Storm Large performed last year.

Grammy winner and Blues Hall of Fame inductee Robert Cray will kick off the Park City Institute's 20th anniversary Main State season on Dec. 9.(Courtesy of the Park City Institute)

"Pink Martini will be the anchor artist for the evening," Orr said.

Heather Menzies Urich, wife of the late actor Robert Urich, will emcee the party.

"Robert was our emcee when the Park City Institute, then known as the Park City Performing Arts Foundation, first opened," Orr said. "He has since passed away."

Menzies Urich, a Park City resident, portrayed Louisa in the film "The Sound of Music."

"We will announce more events for the anniversary party later," Orr said.

The season will continue Feb. 3 with award-winning author, Internet sage and TED Speaker, Anne Lamott.

Lamott, who last came to Park City in 2002, is known for her honesty and willingness to tackle the tough stuff of her own life‹sobriety, faith, motherhood, Orr said.

"She has more than 20 books, and in one of them, she wrote about the time she came to Park City," Orr said. "So it will be really fun to have her back."

Two weeks after Lamott on Feb. 17, the Eccles Center stage will welcome Bob Garfield, co-host of NPR's Peabody Award-winning program, "On the Media."

"Bob is the author of five books, and will perform his one-man show, 'Ruggedly Jewish,'" Orr said.

The 90-minute, multi-media show is a narrative that is equal parts raw, wistful, hilarious and disturbing.

"This is a brand new, one-man show and it really takes the audience through some heavy stuff, but also some fun stuff," Orr said.

February's performances will continue with singer, songwriter and author Dar Williams on Feb. 24.

"Dolly's Bookstore gave me an advance copy of her book ("What I Learned In A Thousand Towns") this past summer," Orr said. "It turns out Dar is a city-planning geek, and the book is about what it means to be a community. She'll sing and talk and sing and talk, which will be great."

March's performances will kick off with the Trinity Dance Company on March 10.

The troupe fuses the vibrancy of traditional Irish dance with contemporary American innovation, Orr said.

"This will get everyone ready for St. Patrick's Day," she said. "They are those beautiful fly-in-the-air Irish dancers."

St. Patrick's Day, March 17, will be the day for Park City Institute's Saints and Sinner's Ball fundraiser gala. The event will be held at the St. Regis Deer Valley, and more information will be announced soon.

Poetry fans will get a chance to hear from award-winning slam poet Shane Koyczan on March 24.

Koyczan is known for his viral video "To This Day," but also for a piece called "For the Bullied and the Beautiful," which he performed at TEDx.

"I was fortunate to see Shane present at TEDx," Orr said. "He is a powerful slam poet who we know will appeal to a variety of audiences. We will also have him do unique student outreaches."

"It's been fun putting this season together because we were able to think about where we've come from and where we are going," she said.

The March 31 performance of LA Theatre Works' "The Mountaintop" will change the Main Stage season's pace.

The Olivier Award-winning production is a two-person play that commemorates the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

"It's a fictional account of how Martin Luther King, Jr., spent the last night at the Lorraine Motel before he was assassinated," Orr said. "It's about King and the hotel maid Camae, who reveals herself to be an angel who has come to prepare him for his death."

The April presentations start on April 3 with American Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Anthony Romero.

"He's the first openly gay and Latino [man] to serve in this role," Orr said. "He is also one hell of a speaker. If ever there was a time to think about what it means to be an American and what democracy needs to look like, it's now."

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Wrapping up the 2017-18 season is rock band OK Go on April 7."It's been fun putting this season together because we were able to think about where we've come from and where we are going," she said.

"The band inspire creativity and curiosity with their science-infused rock music videos," Orr said. "They will come in the day before and talk with the Park City High School students about the science and physics in those videos, and then they'll perform Saturday night." Orr said the Park City Institute will announce two more shows, Feb. 1 and March 3, in a couple of weeks.

"It's been fun putting this season together because we were able to think about where we've come from and where we are going," she said.

Tickets for the Park City Institute's 20th anniversary 2017-18 Main State season will go on sale for members on Friday, Sept. 29. Tickets for the general public will go on sale on Thursday, Oct. 5. Visit the Eccles Center website.

Editor's note: Teri Orr is a columnist and former editor of The Park Record.