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Haunting oud music perfect complement to "Letters from Iraq"
Iowa City Press Citizen - Thursday, February 14, 2019
Iraqi-American political refugee and musician/composer Rahim AlHaj is one of the finest oud players in the world. AlHaj started playing the oud (pronounced like food, a pear-shaped, lute-type fretless stringed instrument) at 9-years-old in his war-torn homeland. The trance-like instrument captivated him when a school teacher first introduced it to him. AlHaj went on to study under two of the world’s best oud players at the Institute of Music in Baghdad, graduating with numerous awards. On Saturday, Feb. 17 at 7:30 p.m., AlHaj will be bringing his oud, Arabian percussion and a string quartet to Hancher Auditorium to play songs from his stirring new album “Letters from Iraq” (Released in April 2017 via Smithsonian Folkways). The eight gripping tracks are intricate musical interpretations from actual handwritten letters by citizens of Iraq.
Back-story makes 'Jersey Boys' more than a jukebox musical
The Gazette - Wednesday, February 6, 2019
Four blue-collar boys from New Jersey fought off the British Invasion with a winning sound that continues to resonate with audiences around the world. And now that sound is riding into Hancher Auditorium in Iowa City from Friday (2/8) to Sunday (2/10) with the national tour of “Jersey Boys.” Even though it’s classified as a jukebox musical, the show that swept up four 2006 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, is much more than that.
Iowa Profile: Brohan brings experience, love of collaboration to Hancher
The Gazette - Saturday, January 12, 2019
IOWA CITY — At a time when unrest and upheaval have called into question the relevance of arts education and financing, upholding the arts has become even more important, “precisely because there are so many problems going on in the world,” said Paul Brohan, programming director at Hancher Auditorium in Iowa City. “Practically every culture on the planet have proved to us that the human voice raised together in song, that the beat of a drum, that the expression of a character onstage, that the right combination of composition and color on a canvas have ways of teaching us things, of connecting to our deepest sense of who we are as humans and of our deepest sense of who we are together as a community — that the arts are always available to us as a leader and a salve and a joy and an entertainment,” he said.
  14 New Year's Eve events in Iowa City
Press Citizen - Wednesday, December 19, 2018
One of the biggest stars in recent Broadway history will be gracing Hancher's stage on New Year's Eve, and will help the audience usher in 2019. Kristin Chenoweth, the Tony Award-winning star of the smash musical hit "Wicked" will perform at 9:30 p.m. New Year's Eve on Hancher's stage. She and her quintet will bring a one-of-a-kind New Year's Eve celebration to Hancher. After her performance, a complementary champagne toast will be served afterwards and a fireworks finale will take place beginning at 11:50 p.m
‘Les Misérables’ — An Iowa City favorite returns to the Hancher stage
Little Village - Thursday, December 6, 2018
Les Misérables, the epic musical based on Victor Hugo’s expansive 1862 novel, returns to Hancher this week. The play has a long and popular history in Iowa City. First performed at the Hancher during the 1989-90 season, the musical returned during the 1991/92, 1994/95, 1996/97, and 1999/2000 seasons. Nearly 93,000 have seen the show at the Hancher during this time. Now, after almost 18 years (just shy of Jean Valjean’s 19 year imprisonment for stealing a loaf of bread), Les Miz is back and 1,250 more locals attended the opening night performance on Tuesday, Dec. 4. The basics of the plotline are likely familiar to most potential viewers, but summarized here: Before the play begins, prisoner Jean Valjean has stolen bread to feed his starving sister and his sentence has been extended to 19 years. We first see him toiling as a galley slave on a ship.
Review: 'Les Miserables' takes on new life
The Gazette - Wednesday, December 5, 2018
If you think you’ve seen “Les Miserables,” think again. I’ve seen the musical multiple times, and yet, so much of the national tour’s opening night Tuesday at Hancher Auditorium felt completely new. Emerging from the shadows of the award-winning 1987 Broadway production is a re-imagining of scenery and staging that breathes new life into Victor Hugo’s 1862 heart-wrenching journey through crime, hope, love and redemption. So many scenes take on a heightened level of intimacy — even in the large, group setting.
Longest running Broadway musical lights up Hancher
Daily Iowan - Wednesday, December 5, 2018
Les Misérables, the world’s longest running and arguably one of the best musicals created in the 20th century, opened at Hancher Tuesday night. Seats filled up fast in the belly of Hancher’s main auditorium, and a large screen with a ship weathering a storm loomed over the stage. The “Prologue” song began with force filled with the beauty and strength needed to withstand prison for 19 years. The year is 1815, and Jean Valjean is being released by Inspector Javert and put on parole.
The staggering numbers behind staging 'Les Miz' at Hancher
Press Citizen - Tuesday, December 4, 2018
Jack McLeod stood in front of a dark stage inside Hancher Auditorium. Dozens of people were testing lights, one standing on a fully-extended cherry picker on the set, a team setting up a row of costumes behind the stage, a group putting together a drum set with almost 50 different drums or instruments to strike. "This is a normal day, a laid back one where everything is going right," McLeod, the production stage manager for the visiting tour of "Les Misérables," said Tuesday, around eight hours before curtain on the first showing of the musical playing all this week in Iowa City.
Les Misérables visits Iowa City once again, ready to perform for a new generation
The Daily Iowan - Sunday, December 2, 2018
A little over 30 years ago, the Broadway production of Les Misérables made its debut, transforming the world of musical theatre for one day more. The massive production makes its way to Hancher for the sixth time, now in a sparkly new Hancher and with a new generation of Les Mis fanatics. Les Misérables premieres on December 4 and will perform through December 9. Because of its large set and cast size, the production performs for a minimum of eight times at a single venue. Chuck Swanson, executive director of Hancher, recalls a memory leading up to Les Mis first performance at Hancher. Swanson had to remove a load of bricks at a loading dock in order to move the giant barricades into the building.
Canadian Brass brings the holiday season to Hancher
The Daily Iowan - Saturday, December 1, 2018
The five brass players entered through a side entrance, unnoticed at first by the audience. They had already begun to play; heads searched frantically, entranced by the smooth sounds coming from their golden instruments. They walked casually through the audience, and slowly made their way to the stage. They swayed side to side to the rhythm of the music. Their instruments were a part of them, an inseparable extension of their body.