Avenue Q

The Empire Theatre Company presents AVENUE Q July 30-August 3 and August 6-10.  Join us for this laugh-out-loud modern musical featuring a group of twentysomethings searching for their purpose in the big city. The performers utilize “Sesame Street”-esque puppets as they tell their tale with adult themes, humor, and song. This production is not appropriate for children. Avenue Q was the 2004 Tony Award winner for best musical and ran for six years on Broadway.

Tickets are $17 ($15 for students or Empire Arts Center members) and are available via phone 9:00am-3:00pm weekdays at 701.746.5500 or anytime at www.empireartscenter.com.


The Backstage Project

Now that summer’s finally here, what better place to celebrate than downtown Grand Forks?  Downtown Grand Forks truly becomes a hub of activity once summer starts, and this weekend is no exception.  If you’re looking for a cool new way to spend your Saturday night, check out the Backstage Project at the Empire!  Austin Winger will be taking the stage at 8:00pm.  After drumming in several groups around the Grand Forks area, Austin Winger began to work on his “chops” for guitar, keyboard, and vocals. Now, he plays mostly in numerous local groups that perform classic rock, acoustic, pop, folk, originals, and other music styles. On this concert, Austin will be joined by fellow percussionist Daniel Johnston. Besides original music, the duo will perform music by the Beatles, Tom Petty, the GooGoo Dolls, Justin Timberlake, Maroon 5, CeeLo Green, and more. Bring your friends for an evening of smooth tunes!

The Backstage Project is designed to utilize creative, urban spaces for live music performances by local and regional artists.  Bar provided by Rhombus Guys and coffee by the Urban Stampede.  The cover fee is $5 at the door (use the back door), and no tickets are sold in advance. The Backstage Project has turned out to be a popular event series at the Empire, and we have many different local artists lined up for the coming weekends.  Here’s the rest of the schedule for summer 2013:

  • July 6:  Sam Rocha (latin-infused originals)
  • July 20:  Sneaky Wild Oats (jazz standards)
  • August 17:  Fancy That (folk duo)

Also, stay tuned for the release of our fall Backstage Project series!

The Backstage Project

Join us for the Backstage Project this Saturday, April 27!  Chase Burkhart will be playing original music as well as jazz standards beginning from 8:00pm.  The cover fee is $5 at the door, and the only entrance is through the back door (in the alley accessible from 5th Street).

Our first Backstage Project earlier this month was a huge hit!  Local favorites Jazz On Tap performed.  The ambiance at the Backstage Project is best described as a cross between the fun energy and casualness of a bar and the laid-back feel of a coffeehouse.  Rhombus Guys serves beer and wine, and Urban Stampede provides coffee.  Classic Empire concessions, such as popcorn, are also available.

Jazz On Tap performed at The Backstage Project on April 5.

If you’re looking for something new to do this weekend, check out the Backstage Project!  It’s unlike anything else in Grand Forks.

Walkin’ Shoes Tour

Full of humor, music and surprises, Walkin’ Shoes brings together Kevin Kling, one of Minnesota’s most significant storytellers, and Dan Chouinard, accordionist, pianist and writer, for tales from the roads they’ve traveled.  Throughout their journeys, Kling and Chouinard kindly rely on the strangeness of others to inspire stories and songs.

Kling, who is in his second year of a three year stint as MPR’s Artist-In-Residence, will also participate in an educational workshop at the East Grand Forks Senior High School in March.

Kevin Kling is a well-known playwright and storyteller. His plays and adaptations have been performed around the world.

About Kevin Kling:  Kevin Kling is a well-known playwright and storyteller.  His plays and adaptations have been performed around the world.  Kevin Kling is best known for his popular commentaries on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered and his storytelling stage shows like Tales from the Charred Underbelly of the Yule Log, which deliver hilarious, often tender stories.  Kling’s autobiographical tales are as enchanting as they are true to life: hopping freight trains, getting hit by lightning, performing his banned play in Czechoslovakia, growing up in Minnesota, and eating things before knowing what they are.

About Dan Chouinard:  Pianist, accordionist and occasional storyteller Dan Chouinard is a Minneapolis native who plays, tours and records regularly with an ever-expanding roster of musicians and writers.  Dan regularly creates special programs which blend storytelling, interview and music, many of these for Minnesota Public Radio, including “Cafe Europa” and “Mambo Italiano” which have been aired on Twin Cities public televison and broadcast statewide on MPR, as have his frequent radio collaborations with Ann Reed, Peter Ostroushko and Patricia Hampl.  He has performed on A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor and was rehearsal accompanist on the movie set of the Robert Altman-directed movie “A Prairie Home Companion.”


The Walkin’ Shoes Tour

Thursday, March 21, 7:00 p.m.

Empire Arts Center, 415 Demers Avenue, Grand Forks

Tickets: $12 (general admission); $10 (MPR members, military, students, seniors).

For tickets, call 701-746-5500.

Reception:  There will be a reception following the concert performance.

Empire Theatre Company Announces Auditions for THE OFFICE PLAYS

Auditions will be held February 12 and 13 from 5:30-7:30pm for the Empire Theatre Company’s (ETC) April production of The Office Plays.  Auditions will be held in the Empire Arts Center basement rehearsal room, and those auditioning should use the backstage entrance.  The audition will consist of cold reading from a script.

The production of The Office Plays will run April 17-20, 2013 at the Empire Arts Center.  The production consists of two smaller plays, “The Receptionist” and “The Thugs.”

“The Receptionist” Synopsis:  At the start of a typical day in the Northeast Office, Beverly deals effortlessly with ringing phones and her colleague’s romantic troubles. But the appearance of a charming rep from the Central Office disrupts the friendly routine, and as the true nature of the company’s business becomes apparent, the receptionist raises disquieting, provocative questions about the consequences of complicity with evil.  Cast:  two males and two females.

“The Thugs” Synopsis:  The Obie Award winning dark comedy about work, thunder, and the mysterious things that are happening on the 9th floor of a big law firm centers around a group of temps who try to discover the secrets that lurk in the hidden crevices of their workplace.  Ultimately, they realize they would rather believe in gossip and rumors than face dangerous realities.  Cast:  two males, six females.

For more information, visit www.empireartscenter.com.

Myra Jazz Festival

The annual Myra Jazz Festival, a chance for students to play their music and work with top clinicians, will be Tuesday and Wednesday at the Grand Forks Empire Arts Center, including a free performance Wednesday by the Myra Jazz Arts Group.

Clinicians will be international trumpeter and Yamaha performing artist Rex Richardson and Mike Blake, director of jazz studies and instructor of applied percussion at UND.

Richardson has played for the chamber group, Rhythm & Brass, and for Joe Henderson’s quintet and sextet. He teaches trumpet, jazz improvisation and chamber music at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Blake has studied with artists such as Mike Mainieri and Gary Burton and is a clinician for Ludwig/Musser, Paiste Cymbals and Latin Percussion and performs as well.

The Myra Jazz Arts Group, adults musicians fro the area, will play from 1 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. Wednesday at the Empire. They will be joined by Richardson and Blake. The public is welcome and admission is free.

Middle School Festival Day will be from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday with bands from East Grand Forks Middle School and from Grand Forks Schroeder, South and Valley middle schools. The clinicians will play from 2:05 to 2:30 p.m.

High school bands will play on Wednesday from 8 a.m. to noon, and from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m., including ensembles from East Grand Forks Senior High School, Grand Forks Central and Red River high schools; Langdon, N.D.; MayPort CG in Mayville, N.D.; Norman County West High School, Halstad, Minn.; Roseau, Minn.; and Thompson, N.D.

Upcoming Events @ the Empire

  • Join us on Monday, January 21 as we host the Grand Forks community’s first-ever Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration!  This event is brought to you by the Era Bell Thompson Multicultural Center in partnership with the University of Minnesota, Crookston, the Grand Forks Air Force Base, UND’s Black Student Association, and others.  The program begins at the Empire at noon, and it will be followed by a community social.  More more information, click here.
  • Put on your trendiest outfit and head downtown for Downtown Fashion Night 2013!  This event is co-sponsored by the Grand Forks Good Girls Club and TruYu Aesthetics Center.  Both organizations wanted to host an event in downtown Grand Forks to celebrate the exciting growth and changes downtown.  Tickets are $15, and proceeds from the event go to the Infant Bereavement Program at Altru Hospital.  For more information, visit their website.
  • It’s time for the North Valley Arts Council’s annual meeting.  The meeting will be held at the Empire Arts Center on Wednesday, January 23 at 6:00pm.  Elections will be held for open positions on NoVAC’s Board of Directors, and any NoVAC member can vote.  View nominees’ biographies here.

We’re Back!

After a blogging hiatus, we’re back to posting on our Area Voices blog!  Here, find updates on everything that’s happening at the Empire:  concerts, films, plays, events, and more.  We’ll also blog about the arts scene in Grand Forks and what makes our city a great place to live, work, and play.

Have suggestions for a blog post?  Let us know!  In the meantime, check out the video linked below.  Have you visited the current UND Art Collections exhibit in the Empire’s gallery?  Don’t miss it!  Gallery hours are 12:00-5:00pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and 10:00am-3:00pm on Saturdays.

UND Art Collections @ the Empire