Fairfield University's Quick Center previews fall season line-up

The 2014-15 season at Fairfield University's Quick Center promises to deliver a mixture of international artists with performances in music, theater and dance, bringing back some of the arts center's popular series in addition to new productions. These include the lecture series Open Visions, family entertainment, high-definition broadcasts from the Metropolitan Opera House, and the National Theatre Live from Britain.

The season opens at 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 19, with "Broadway's Next H!t Musical," from New York City. "Broadway's Next H!t Musical," is an award-winning improvised comedy. The comedy troupe will turn a favorite song into an improvised musical -- complete with memorable characters and witty dialogue. Ticket prices are: $45, $40, $35 and $5 for students.

The Hot Sardines play at the Quick Center at 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 20. The Sardines invoke the music of a near-century ago with foot-stomping jazz that's in step with the current age. Their front woman, "Miz Elizabeth" Bougerol was born and raised in Paris and writes songs in both languages. The band sold out Joe's Pub in New York City 11 times in a year, headlined at Lincoln Center's Midsummer Night Swing, and opened for the Bad Plus, Lulu Gainsbourg and French gypsy-jazz artist Zaz. Ticket prices are: $45, $40, $35 and $5 for students.

David Gregory, the anchor of NBC's "Meet the Press," speaks at the first Open Visions Forum Lecture Series of the season at 8 p.m. Monday, Sept.22. As a veteran political reporter who has covered both presidential and mid-term elections, Gregory gives audiences a glimpse inside the often-impenetrable halls where Washington's power players operate. Although his coverage is serious, Gregory is widely knonw for humor as well. Tickets are $45.

National Theatre Live presents "A Streetcar Named Desire," by Tennessee Williams at 2 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 25 and an encore performance at 7 p.m. The high-definition broadcast from London stars Gillian Anderson, Ben Foster and Vanessa Kirby. Tickets are $25 regular admission, $20 for seniors and $15 for children and students.

The Wien Experimental Theatre inside the Quick Center will be the setting for "The Pirate Plays" on Wednesday, Sept 24 through Friday, Sept. 26, at 8 p.m. Steve Bonnet, gentleman pirate, and Anne Bonny, pirate queen, relive their colorful lives in Fairfield University lecturer Steve Otfinoski's award-winning play, based on historical fact. A faculty panel will follow each performance. General admission tickets are $20; $5 for students.

"Medea," by the Greek playwright Euripides will be staged in a new version by Ben Power in a National Theatre Live production on Thursday, Oct. 2, at 2 and 7 p.m. Tickets for the broadcast are $25, $20 for seniors, and $15 for children and students.

"The Berenstain Bears Live in `Family Matters: The Musical' " is family fare on Sunday, Oct. 5. This Matt Murphy Productions performance is recommended for ages 4 through 8. Adapted from the classic children's book series by Stan and Jan Berenstain, this show weaves together three of their most popular books: "The Berenstain Bears Learn About Strangers," "The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Junk Food" and "The Berenstain Bears' Trouble at School." Juice and cookies will be served after each Family Fun Series performance. Tickets are $15 for adults and children.

New York Times op-ed columnist Frank Bruni, and the Times chief television critic, Alessandra Stanley, will be on stage for "Two From The Times -- Stanley & Bruni At Large" an Open Visions Forum on Thursday, Oct. 9. The duo will discuss culture, politics, and the art and anxiety of rendering judgment. Tickets for the 8 p.m. event are $45.

Sound Bites: a free lunchtime series at the Quick Center features music professor Jeffrey Johnson on Friday, Oct. 10, from noon to 1:15 p.m. Johnson is the author of "Opera's Thrift Store; Coats, Pins, Books and the joy of unexpected objects." Sound Bites is a new Lunch Series at the Quick Center's Wien Experimental Theatre. Participants can bring their lunch; beverages are provided or patrons can have their lunch waiting for them at the Quick Center that day by ordering in advance through Einstein Bros. Bagels. To order a discounted lunch, call 203-334-5906, ext. 3 and mention the Sound Bites lunch offer. Orders must be made a minimum of 24 hours in advance.

On Saturday, Oct. 11, "The Met: Live in HD" presents Giuseppe Verdi's "Macbeth" at 1 and 6 p.m. There will be a pre-performance talk with Jeffrey Johnson at 12:15 p.m. Tickets are $25; $20 for seniors and $10 for children and students.

Julian Sands in "A Celebration of Harold Pinter," directed by John Malkovich, goes on stage at 8 p.m. Friday, Oct.17. British stage and film actor Julian Sands presents a personal tribute to a passionate, opinionated, and enigmatic man -- Harold Pinter. With personal anecdotes and reflections drawn from their work together, Sands combines Pinter's poems and political prose to create insights into the Nobel laureate's literary legacy. Nominated for a 2013 Drama Desk Award, "A Celebration of Harold Pinter" reveals Pinter as poet, playwright, husband, political activist and Nobel Prize winner. Ticket prices are: $45, $40, $35 and $5 for students.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's beloved "Le Nozze di Figaro," will be broadcast at 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 18, live with an encore presentation at 6:30 p.m. by "The Met: Live in HD." Tickets are $25; $20 for seniors and $10 for children and students.

On Thursday, Oct. 30, just in time for Halloween, National Theatre Live presents "Frankenstein." The 2 p.m. broadcast from London features Jonny Lee Miller as the creature and Benedict Cumberbatch as Victor Frankenstein. It will be re-broadcast at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25; $20 for seniors, and $15 for students. The presentation is appropriate for ages 16 and up.

On Saturday, Nov. 1, "The Met: Live in HD," broadcasts Georges Bizet's famous work, "Carmen," live at 1 p.m., with an encore performance at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $25; $20 for seniors and $10 for children and students.

Join Orin Grossman and Friends for "An Afternoon in Paris" at 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 2. The afternoon of chamber music features pianist Orin Grossman and his collaborators for a celebration of some of the great composers of Paris: Ravel, Debussy, Faure and Milhaud. Tickets are: $35, $30, $25 and $5 for students.

Jazz pianist Nick Sanders, raised in New Orleans and now living in New York City, will play with the Nick Sanders Trio for two shows on Friday, Nov.7, at 7 and 9 p.m. in the Wien Experimental Theatre. Nick recently signed with Sunnyside Records. His inaugural album, "Nameless Neighbors," was recorded with his trio, Henry Fraser on bass and Connor Baker on drums. Tickets are $30 and $5 for students.

National Theatre Live will broadcast "Skylight" from London on Thursday, Nov. 13 at 2 and 7 p.m. The play by David Hare stars Bill Nighy and Carey Mulligan and is directed by Stephen Daldry. Tickets are $25; $20 for seniors, and $15 for children and students.

The Vijay Iyer Trio entertains at 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 15. The Grammy Award nominated trio was Downbeat Magazine's Jazz Group of the Year in 2012 and received a 2013 MacArthur Fellow "Genius Grant." Iyer is joined by Marcus Gilmore on drums and Stephan Crump on bass. Tickets are $40, $35, $30 and $5 for students.

A free Young Artists Series performance at 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 16, will feature a classical piano concert featuring a young musician (artist to be announced). Free tickets are available at the Quick Center box office.

The president and CEO of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, Caryl M. Stern, will speak on "I Believe in Zero: Learning from the World's Children" on Wednesday, Nov. 19. Stern, a longtime child advocate and civil rights activist, has worked with the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice in crafting national education policy, and has participated in several White House education and anti-bias initiatives. Tickets for this Open Visions Forum are $45.

On Thursday, Nov. 20, at 8 p.m., the Toure-Raichel Collective brings together Malian guitar virtuoso Vieux Farka Toure and Israeli performer Idan Raichel to create works of collaboration and improvisation. After a chance meeting at an airport in Europe in 2008, the two artists forged a friendship that led to an impromptu recording session and album, "The Tel Aviv Session," hailed by the media as "an intercultural free form acoustic masterpiece." Tickets are $25; $20 for seniors, and $15 for children and students.

"An Appalachian Christmas" kicks off the holiday season at 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 7, with Mark O'Connor and Friends. O'Connor, a Grammy Award-winning violinist, is a contemporary American composer and fiddler, incorporating many musical styles into his performances. Tickets are $55, $45, $40 and $5 for students.

"The Met: Live in HD," will feature Rossini's masterpiece, "Il Barbiere di Siviglia," on Tuesday, Dec. 9. There will be two broadcast performances at 1 and 6 p.m. Tickets are $25; $20 for seniors, and $15 for children and students.

WVL Radio Theatre presents the classic holiday favorite "It's a Wonderful Life," at 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 12. The production harkens back to the Golden Age of Radio in the 1940s with humor, warmth, and attention-grabbing live sound effects. Tickets are $35, $30, $25 and $5 for students.

A pre-performance talk at 11:15 a.m. with music professor Jeffrey Johnson on Tuesday, Dec. 16, is a highlight of the Met: Live in HD broadcast of Richard Wagner's "Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg." The event begins at noon. Tickets are $25; $20 for seniors, and $15 for children and students.

Single tickets, group tickets and subscriptions to the Quick Center season events are available online at www.quickcenter.com and at the box office: 203-254-4010, or toll-free 1-877-ARTS-396. The Quick Center is on the campus of Fairfield University, 1073 North Benson Road. For more information, call 203-254-4010.